Shooting low-light photos with DJI Spark

August 27, 2018

This little DJI Spark is a wonderful “toy”! For such a small drone, it’s very stable in flight even in windy conditions. Also, it takes good photos and videos. The camera is mounted on a gimbal  with a 25mm lens. It is able to shoot in low light up to a 2 seconds shutter speed at iso 100. That to me is a technical feat for such a “entry” level drone.

Usually, the 10 megapixels image is good enough for casual snaps but for the more serious shooters, it is definitely not enough.

But one way to get a bigger image file is to go closer and shoot wider images in a panoramic sequence. We do need some help of image apps to complete this task.

 

THE WORKFLOW

What you will need is a DJI Spark (or whatever drone that has a gimbal) with controller and Photoshop or similar app that can do photo stitching.

(Do note that not all drone cameras can pull this off nicely. The DJI line of drones have cameras with good rectilinear distortion which makes it easy to process panoramic photos.)

Usually, to take a photo of this church, I would have to fly the Spark way further back away to get the full structure in the frame. But for this case, I hovered the Spark much closer to the church and at the height I wanted. I took 3 photos with different angles for a vertical stitch by simple adjusting the gimbal dial on the controller to move it looking up and down.

Since I am unable to shoot this in RAW, I have to make sure all the settings are properly set to the values I wanted before shooting. For these 3 images to look consistent, I set the camera to manual mode, 2 seconds shutter speed, ISO100 settings and white balance set to incandescent to give that gothic look.

Do remember to take multiple shots at each angle as a form of insurance in case any of the photo is blurry due to the strong winds that causes camera shake.



EDITING

Once I am done with the shoot, I continued to the photo editing.
I opened these photos in Adobe Photoshop and photomerge them using the command:

File>Automate>Photomerge

Once these files are selected, set the layout to Auto, click OK. Photoshop will start stitching up the photos for you.

The result should looked like this after stitching. Usually it will looked out of wack but don’t worry.

I then merged the 3 layers together using Ctrl-E.

Next I use the perspective tool from Edit>Transform>Perspective to correct the look of the image. You may also use Distort and Warp function from the Edit>Transform section to help correct the image further if needed. You can hit Ctrl-‘ to turn on the grid lines to give you a guide to help align the buildings straight and neat. I then re-scale the image upwards to get right look followed by cropping it.

I then toned the image accordingly to my liking.

Here you go!! My image is ready in an estimated 16 megapixel size with much more detail.

Hope this simple tutorial helps you to improve your drone photography.