Creating a Sense of Depth With Aerial Photos

To craft impressive aerial photography, it is crucial to create a sense of depth with your shots from the sky. Read on to learn the tips and tricks to ensure your images are truly one of a kind.

Compared to cameras and smartphones, drones can have a wider field of view, making them perfect for nature and landscape photography.

Lofoten Norway ©ezumphoto  | Equipment: Mavic 2 Pro

Shoot from different heights and angles to create a variety of creative shots.

The Dutch Pyramid ©Cuno de Bruin | Equipment: Spark

Usually, a down-facing lens creates flat shots, while an oblique lens creates a stronger sense of depth.

A flower boat on “the clouds” ©caokynhan | Equipment: Mavic 2 Pro

Catching snails on the “cloud” river ©caokynhan | Equipment: Mavic Pro

Even shots with a similar angle can evoke different feelings by utilizing water reflections to manipulate space as seen above.

If you are interested in improving your images with a sense of depth and space, here are six tips to try:


How to Create a Sense of Space with Aerial Photography


  1. Look for a Foreground and Background

Depending on the distance between the target and camera, we can divide the space of a frame into the foreground, subject, and background.

On top of Lofoton ©Young Lee | Equipment: Phantom 3A

The foreground, as the word itself implies, is the element in-between a camera and the subject, while the background refers to the elements behind the subject.

Villa Del Balbianello ©Luca Cornago | Equipment: Mavic 2 Pro

The foreground and background naturally create a sense of depth that makes an image more appealing.

Mountains in spring ©Rune Wold | Equipment: Inspire 2

You can hide part of the subject behind the foreground to create a clear sense of depth.

Sunset in Ban Gioc waterfall ©TuấnNguyễn | Equipment: Mavic 2 Pro

Additionally, remember to include a background to accentuate depth in your photos.

  1. Convergence Lines

When composing a photo, you can use lines to attract the audience’s attention. Lines can also help to create a sense of depth.

Pulkkilanharju ©Joonas Syrjälä | Equipment: Mavic Air

Lines extending to or converging on a horizon or boundary can significantly accentuate depth in a photo.

Fishing in Yen island ©dean_nph | Equipment: Mavic Pro

Rivers, roads, bridges, and many other line elements such as elongated shadows can also be used to draw people’s focus to subjects or certain aspects of an image.

Aerial view of epic light rays over the fields ©Lukas Jonaitis  | Equipment: Mavic Pro

  1. Blur Your Photos

Perspective does not only refer to images with objects that are larger in the front and smaller at the back. It also refers to the relative sharpness of these objects in different dimensions. For a DSLR camera, to blur the background, you only need to apply a larger aperture and utilize manual focus.

This is my home town ©krauzevision | Equipment: Mavic Pro

However, for aerial photography, since drones are usually flying a distance away from the subject, it is difficult to blur anything by adjusting aperture and focus. In these cases, resorting to nature is a safe alternative.

山村秋韵 ©程政 | Equipment: Phantom 3 Professional

Fog, clouds, or even the smog from urban areas can add a sense of haze and romance to your photo. Test your creative limits by experimenting with natural resources to give your aerial shot that extra touch.

Foggy Mornings ©carlostigs | Equipment: Mavic Pro

4. Color Contrast

In addition to playing with the foreground and background, a sense of depth can also be created by using color contrast.

Fredvang Bridges. ©Yuriy Shevchenko  | Equipment: Mavic 2 Pro

Usually, warm colors reduce the sense of distance, while colder colors do the opposite. According to this method, using warm colors for the foreground and cold for the background can maximize the depth in your photos.

Squeezing in the last runs ©Ain Raadik  | Equipment: Mavic Pro

Colors also influence people’s perception of space in an image. Lighter colors make an object seem larger and closer to the audience, while darker colors make objects seem smaller and farther.

Tower of Chuderhüsi ©M.A.R.C. | Equipment: Phantom 4 Pro

Because of this, utilizing the contrast between light and dark colors can also add a sense of depth in your photos.

  1. Vertical Shooting

For two pictures with the same view and angle, a vertical composition creates a stronger sense of depth than a horizontal composition.

Twin Falls ©Fire & Ice  | Equipment: Mavic Air

Water Fall Adventures ©Fire & Ice  | Equipment: Mavic Air

This is due to how objects in vertical compositions are displayed in a different orientation with more details.

* Vertical shooting mode is only available with the Mavic Pro. For other models, users can use Pano mode to carry out a vertical shot.

  1. Turn Reality into a World of Inception

Post-processing is another way to add depth to your photos.

Vertical Things ©Pep Sanchez | Equipment: Mavic Pro

In the image above, the photographer distorted a normal 3D space with post-processing, creating a mysterious feeling similar to a scene from the movie Inception. Learn how to replicate this unique Inception effect.

Not a small HK island ©Panvelvet | Equipment: Phantom 4 Pro

Inspired by movies such as “Inception” and “Dr. Strange,” Panvelvet, one of the winners of the Architecture category in the 2018 SkyPixel Aerial Photo and Video Contest, took 43 photos of Hong Kong and composed them into a magical world.

stuck in sand dunes ©Panvelvet | Equipment: Mavic 2 Pro

Even though post-processing can be used to accentuate depth, not much can be accomplished if the original photo does not include the above tips. Take to the skies to test these tips and create photos with depth effortlessly!