Flying a drone in winter

Winter is in full force here in British Columbia which means aerials just got complicated. Capturing a winter landscape is a challenge but not impossible with a little thought and preparation. Here are some tips for flying a drone in winter that could help with the safe return of your drone.

Battery Life

In colder temperatures, your battery life is going to be shorter. Keep this in mind when building your flight plan and how you handle the batteries. If you are hiking to your take-off location, we suggest packing your batteries in your jacket. This way your body heat will help keep them warm. Once you reach your destination, begin by starting the motors and letting the drone hover for over a minute to warm up. Keep the drone in close proximity especially in cold temperatures as the voltage may drop. If you’re concerned about temperatures being close to the threshold avoid taxing the voltage which is caused by excessive maneuvering.


British Columbia has lots of moisture even in the winter. It can be snowing one minute and raining the next. Winter, in particular, is full of airborne moisture which is not friendly to the motors. One of the biggest issues is moisture on your lens which takes away from the line of sight and ultimately the intended visuals. If you’re working in snow or rain use the hood that comes with the controller and tilt to protect the phone.

Exposure and White Balance

Snowy landscapes can result in underexposed pictures with the snow looking gray. This is a result of the camera being tricked into thinking that the scene is over-exposed. Before flying your drone set your exposure manually by 0.3-0.7 stops over the metered value. Doing so will help the camera interpret the snowy landscape. If you are presented with a sunny day, set the white balance to 6500K and always shoot raw!

Gear up the Pilot

The drone is only as good as the pilot operating. If your pilot is at the mercy of the elements make sure he is equipped with layers, transmitter mitts or touchscreen friendly gloves. We feel the transmitter gloves are the best way to keep the pilot flying in the winter months. A warm pilot is more creative and more likely to stick it out to get the shot!

There are some advantages to flying a drone in the winter. Believe it or not, winter presents smoother air for flying a drone which means longer shutter times. Winter has the benefit of less convective heating helping you achieve more stable footage.

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Written by noravera
January 24, 2017