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A guide to drone photography in Queensland

Queensland’s wide open spaces, remote rainforests, colourful reefs and artist-palette waters are best appreciated with a bird’s eye view.  

But it no longer requires a chartered doors-off helicopter flight or lengthy hike to a lookout to capture unforgettable content.

There’s no denying the popularity of drone photography in Queensland. The new kid on the block is here to stay. And so are the travel photographers and adventurers flocking to take advantage of the stunning landscapes that await. 

With drones now cheap and portable enough to include as a carry-on travel accessory, here’s the basics on drone photography in Queensland for your next adventure to the Sunshine State. 

Equip yourself

1. A travel-friendly drone

Looking for a drone to take epic photos on your next holiday? With gear available to suit every level and budget, go for one that has at least a 12-megapixel camera and is portable enough to carry in your backpack on day trips or hikes. 

2. Spare batteries

Most drones will give you around 20-30 minutes flying time which means adding at least one extra battery is a good investment.

3. Filters

Invest in polarising lens filters to reduce glare from water and other reflective surfaces, as well as add colour depth and vibrancy to your images.

Rules to know

Drones can be a safety hazard if you don’t follow the rules. Check out this blog post with 8 drone rules you need to know for more information.

The current basics for beginners with drones weighing less than 2kg, and without a license, looking to capture their travels from above are:

  • Don’t fly higher than 120 metres above the ground and keep your drone within visual line of sight
  • Keep a separation distance of 30 metres to people
  • Controlled aerodrome/airports have a 5.5km exclusion zone 

It’s all in the timing

Lizard Island Tropical North Queensland | Drone photography Queensland

As with most landscape photography, sunrise and sunset are typically the best times to capture stunning drone shots with softer light and nice shadows to play with.

But given that the low-light capabilities can be tricky on portable consumer drones, photographers recommend shooting 30-90 minutes after sunrise to allow the whole scene to be illuminated. That way you’ll be sure to capture the vibrant colours of the ocean, reef and rainforest canopies Queensland is famous for.

Best spots for drone photography in Queensland

In search of a little inspiration for where to launch your drone? Check out these unforgettable Queensland locations.

Unlike many other national parks in Australia, Queensland national parks aren’t off limits to drones (but stay up to date with all the details here). From stunning coastlines and tropical rainforests to the red outback and rugged mountain ranges, here are a few of the best places to shoot in Queensland.

Unspoilt coastlines

Tangalooma Wrecks Moreton Island Queensland | drone photography Queensland

Whether it’s perfect curler waves of the Gold Coast, the islands of Tropical North Queensland or all the rugged coastline in between, drone photography along the east coast offers endless landscape opportunities.

Get a bird’s eye view of the Moreton Island wrecks or the coral cays of Wilson Island. Fly high above the coastline made famous by its daily sunrise kangaroo encounters – Cape Hillsborough National Park. Just south of the caravan park, you’ll find an empty beach and a perfect spot to launch the drone for an early morning flight and some amazing views.

Dense Rainforests

Babinda Boulders Tropical North Queensland | Drone photography Queensland

Queensland’s lush rainforests offer some spectacular photo opportunities beneath the canopy. But if you can find a clearing, the view from above offers a totally different perspective. 

Whether it’s a dense sea of green or a waterfall you’re chasing, getting high on your next camping adventure will certainly give you photos you’ll want to frame and hang for years to come. 

Rugged Outback

Lawn Hill Gorge Queensland | Drone photography Queensland

Endless straight roads, bright red soil and rugged mountain ranges of Outback Queensland are perfect for drone landscapes that showcase the vastness of the area, like this snap from Boodjamulla National Park

Towering peaks

Glasshouse Mountains Sunshine Coast Queensland | Drone photography Queensland

Photo by @britinbrisbane

Adventurous travellers: there are more than a few mountain peaks worth conquering (and capturing) on your trip to Queensland.

The Glass House Mountains on the Sunshine Coast is a local favourite, and the sunset from Mt Ngungun offers possibly the lowest hiking effort for maximum views reward.

Other peaks worth exploring include the Scenic Rim and Walsh’s Pyramid (amongst others) in Tropical North Queensland

Stand out from the crowd

75 Mile Beach Fraser Island Queensland | Drone photography Queensland

Symmetry – Aesthetically pleasing and eye-catching in anyone’s Instagram feed is a simple symmetrical look-down, like this snap over 75 Mile Beach on Fraser Island

Patterns and textures – Be on the lookout for natural textures and patterns that only an aerial perspective would allow. Shallow sandy rivers like the Noosa Spit or Tallebudgera Creek offer lots of interesting textures.

Thorsborne Trail Hinchinbrook Island Townsville Queensland | drone photography Queensland

Include people for scale – Queensland’s endlessly dramatic landscapes, like Hinchinbrook Island, often benefit from a sense of scale. The best way to do it? Include people in your shots. Who needs a selfie-stick when you have a drone?

Post-process your photos – It often takes just as much time editing the image as it did to go out and shoot it. Colour-correcting and accentuating light can really make an otherwise flat image pop.

Road trip Cape Gloucester, The Whitsundays Queensland | Drone photography Queensland

Photograph the journey, not just the destination – Drones are the perfect road-trip companion and can allow you to get some really cool shots along the way. Consider investing in a car-charger to make sure you’ve still got some battery charge when you reach your destination.

Bonus tips and tricks

1. Scout for new locations and opportunities on Google Earth
2. Stay up to date with CASA and be aware of any restrictions where you’re looking to fly.
3. Pan with your drone to take multiple images to stitch together in post to create larger megapixel images and panoramas.
4. Use exposure bracketing to increase the dynamic range of your image.