Drone Advice chats with Adam Scarf, a diverse and passionate photographer & videographer based in Sydney, Australia. Adam has worked on projects for David Jones, The Australia China Business Council, Sydney Opera House, Bridge Climb, Carefree, Telstra, St George, Spotify, Fliteboard, Bausele, Bitzer, Commonwealth Bank, RedBull, Street Art Murals Australia and Amnesty International to name a few.

Adam has also worked with artist’s on music video’s, interviews and photo shoots – with such names as TYGA, L Fresh, The Lion, Borns, Hermitude, Method Man, Redman, Miya, Blackstreet, Atmosphere, Thundamentals and Sticky Fingers. Diversifying into weddings, fashion, commercial/corporate, aerial, video, landscape & music has expanded his love for the art form.

DroneAdvice: What was it that got you started flying drones and what model are you flying? Do you have any drones on the shopping list?

Adam: I started to take a real interest in drones at about the general time they were becoming widely available. I found them so fascinating because they offer a completely new perspective in film and photography for everyday people. As a full-time photographer & videographer, I used to hire drone operators to collaborate with me on my video projects while it was still a niche thing. Eventually, I took the next step and bought my first drone (a Phantom 3 Pro) which was the newest release at the time. I am now using the Mavic Pro, which I personally prefer because it’s lighter and easier to travel with. I can literally fit the Mavic Pro inside of my camera bag amongst all of my other gear. I did have my eye on the Phantom 4 Pro for a while. However, the technology has been advancing so fast, so I figured that a product in a smaller build with the same or even better quality would eventually come onto the market, and that’s the Mavic 2 Pro. I’ll be buying one as soon as I can.

Sydney Coastline Panorama
Sydney coastline (Bondi Beach – right)
DroneAdvice: What have been a couple of highlights from some of the drone work that you’ve completed? Have there been any major challenges?

Adam: One of my biggest highlights has been Australia.com, along with some other platforms, sharing my drone work to millions of people. That helped me grow my following and further expand my customer-base to people all around the world who are now purchasing my prints. It’s sometimes a challenge to find the right time of day to take the nicest looking shot but I guess that’s part of the thrill. Late afternoon/dusk/the golden hour is usually best if you don’t want casting shadows.

Abandoned train track
DroneAdvice: Do you have any specific post-production workflow techniques and are you using any special software to process images and footage?

Adam: It’s been a learning curve trying to get the most out of my photographs and videos. With my landscape photography, the best way to go about it, in my opinion, is by using the technique (HDR) which is bracketing your images in three to five different exposures and stacking them together in Lightroom or Photoshop. It will bring out all of your highlights and shadows to make your landscape look even more complex and alluring. For panorama’s, I’ll always switch the camera to portrait mode and take photos from left to right and then stitch them together in Lightroom. I also bracket the individual panorama photos. With video, I use ND filters with a D-log or D-Cinelike colour profile so I can colour grade it in postproduction and get the most out of each scene.

My video settings:

  • Manual Mode
  • ISO set from 100 – 200 with the (PgyTech ND filters)
  • Shutter always double the frame rate
  • 4k 25fps for the most cinematic
  • .Mov file
  • Style – custom (0,-2,-2)
DroneAdvice: Your entire professional photography portfolio is top-draw and your aerial landscape shots are no exception. How much of the process would you say is “art” and how much of it would you say is “science” in terms of getting killer aerial shots like these?

Adam: Firstly, thank you for saying that, I appreciate it! About half and half, I’d say. I am always stoked when I can envision a potential photograph or video before even getting to a location and then having that vision actualised. I feel like there’s an art in that. When I am hovering over a new area, I try and scope something that’s out of the ordinary, something with a workable composition and good lighting. There’s a science to knowing how to capture the right light when you’re racing the day. With a drone, most places look completely different than what you’d expect from the ground. Having access to an entirely different perspective is a big privilege.

Adam Scarf
Sydney coastline during the golden hour (Tamarama – right)
DroneAdvice: Do you have any advice or tips for any photographers who might want to elevate (excuse the pun) their game by adding drone photography to the services they provide?

Adam: If you’re already a working videographer or photographer, adding drone photography to your services can absolutely work in your favour. Offering a different viewpoint of a scene or location can completely change the mood of a shoot. A change in perspective is an incredible thing to offer a client!

* You can get in touch with Adam via his website or on Facebook or Instagram.

Thanks for reading!

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Photos by Adam Scarf.