Drone Photography and ON1 Photo RAW 2018

Drone Photography and ON1 Photo RAW 2018

John Rawlins is a QA Engineer here at ON1 and enjoys landscape, sports, real estate and aerial photography. He’s also into gadgets. A little over a year ago he started looking at drones. The combination of photography and a nifty flying gadget were too much for him to resist. The newer portable drones sealed the deal because he wanted something to take with him when traveling. As you can see from the photos below, he’s had a lot of fun over the last year with his drone photography. Whether shooting panoramas of the Cascade mountains or chasing water skiers at the lake, John’s been having a blast. Of course, when he gets home, it’s ON1 Photo RAW to organize and finish his shots.


The popularity of drones has exploded over the last couple of years.  Prices are falling making them more accessible for both professional and amateur photographers.  I jumped on the bandwagon about a year ago when I got my DJI Mavic Pro.

Since then I’ve found a bunch of features in ON1 Photo RAW 2018 that work well with my aerial photos.

First, the Import feature is great for downloading and organizing my photos and videos.  During the import process I can do things like:

  • Automatically create backup copies to my external drive
  • Add keywords that identify the location (e.g., Lava Butte) or job (e.g., 123 Main St.)
  • Add copyright information to the metadata
  • Automatically organize my photos into folders by capture dates

Another thing that is useful is lens correction.  The wide angle lens on my drone creates noticeable distortion on the edges of photos. ON1 Photo RAW 2018 has a built-in profile for the lens on my Mavic that automatically corrects the distortion.  For drone models where a built-in profile isn’t available it is easy to make manual adjustments using the Lens Correction pane in the ON1 Develop module.

I enjoy shooting panoramic photos with my DSLR.  Now it’s one of my favorite things to do with my drone.  I use the ‘Pano’ feature in the DJI Go application to automatically shoot the photos.  After importing the images, I stitch them together using the Create Panorama feature in ON1 Photo RAW 2018.  The results are awesome.

Another feature I use with my drone all the time is Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB). DJI’s application lets me choose whether to shoot a set of three or five brackets.  Using this feature I get a base exposure, and several additional photos of the same scene exposed a little more or a little less.  I can pick the one I like best, or even better combine them into an High-dynamic-range (HDR) photo.

Combining the exposures using the HDR feature in ON1 Photo RAW 2018 reveals more details in the highlights and shadows.  You would lose these details when using a single exposure.

I combined five bracketed photos into an HDR then added a few filters in the below picture.

There are several filters in the ON1 Effects module that I frequently use.  They let me quickly and easily improve my results.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we get a lot of cloudy days that can result in dull photos with overcast skies.  Adding the Sunshine filter makes a huge difference in these cases.  Flat images look brighter and more vibrant with just a few mouse clicks.

The Color Enhancer filter is excellent for improving the appearance of grass and trees.  The ‘Foliage’ style in the Color Enhancer turns them vibrant dark green.  There is typically no need to create a complex mask when doing this.  The filter automatically targets only the green colors.

To get vibrant blue skies, I add a second Color Enhancer and select the ‘Sky’ style.  It intelligently applies to just the blue areas, so you don’t get color contamination in the rest of the photo.

When the skies need help, typically on the overcast days, I add a blue Photo Filter. The ‘Blue Grad’ style limits the effect to the top of the photo.  I frequently add a luminosity mask to constrain the effect to only the highlights. Adding that mask takes just two mouse clicks and zero brushing.

The Dynamic Contrast filter is another one of my favorites.  It brings out the fine details in photos.  I also use it to reduce haze.

In the next photo, I made some necessary tone adjustments in the ON1 Develop module first and then added the Dynamic Contrast filter in the Effects module.

The following photo was taken on a cloudy day.  The house is North-facing, so it was backlit.  Initially, I combined five bracketed photos into an HDR.  The sky was too gray for the Color Enhancer to be useful, so I went with the blue Photo Filter technique.  However, I did use the Color Enhancer with the Foliage style to pretty up the lawn, trees, and bushes.  Lastly, I threw in the fake sun using the ON1 Layers module just for fun.

My DJI Mavic Pro is one of the most fun toys, I mean essential pieces of photography equipment, I’ve acquired in years.  It takes excellent photos and with a little editing in ON1 Photo RAW 2018 they are even better.  For my needs, ON1 Photo RAW occupies the sweet spot between not having quite enough features (Adobe Lightroom) versus being overly complicated (Adobe Photoshop). Now, whenever I travel, I always look for opportunities to take photos with my drone. There are more panos, HDR images and lighthouse shots to come!


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