Contributor Jason Liu on drones, curiosity, and shooting in fog

Photo Stories

Licensing Contributor Jason Liu is a Brooklyn-based photographer that shoots raw textures and emotion in nature and portraiture, taking advantage of natural light to help accentuate the visual drama within his images. Browse his Licensing collection here.

Q: Tell us about yourself—how did you get started as a photographer?

A: I’m a freelance photographer based in Brooklyn, NY. My curiosity has always kept me on the move, and wanting to learn as much as I can. I hope to share as much of the world as I can with my audience through my work.

Projects by Jason Liu on 500px.com

Q: How do you shoot your images? Since they are drone shots, can you tell us what you love about drone photography?

A: I think a lot of people share the same fascination with flying and seeing the world from a bird’s-eye view. It gives the world such a fresh perspective—I often wonder what a lot of places look like from above. It also gives us a different vantage point on hard-to-reach places: some places are even inaccessible by foot.

One of my favorite things about drone photography is being able to get shots that aren’t possible with a handheld camera. A good example of this would be some of the shots I’ve gotten going down tight corridors in my video.

From Above by Jason Liu on 500px.com

Q: What is your favourite gear to use?

A: I currently use the DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone for all my drone footage. I started with the first DJI Mavic Pro because of its size, and how easy it is to carry around. I would’ve preferred the Phantom 4 Pro for its dynamic range, but that drone was too large for the traveling I like to do, and I wouldn’t have been able to bring along the rest of my gear.

For my camera, I use the Nikon D810. I mainly use my Sigma 35 lens and the Nikon 14-24mm 2.8, but I also have the Nikon 24-70mm 2.8.

HK Skyscrapers by Jason Liu on 500px.com

Q: When you’re setting up your shot, what are your go-to steps?

  1. Check conditions
  2. Before I go anywhere, I always check the weather. I’ve been to places where it can look completely different in 24 hours. Depending on the kind of mood you’re looking for, you need to know when to be there. A lot of my shots are usually taken around sunrise and sunset.

    I love sunrise the most—everything starts to warm up after a cold night, and it brings in amazing fog that complements the scenery. Even if the sun doesn’t come out in the morning, there can be great morning fog.

    Forest by Jason Liu on 500px.com

  3. Scout
  4. The best thing you can do for yourself is scout the area you’re shooting first. Make sure you give yourself enough time to look around before you get started. Be aware of your surroundings to ensure you fly your drone safely, and make sure you have a good space from which to take off.

  5. Shoot
  6. I love shooting videos with my drone, so the first thing I look for is a good “flow” that I can use for movement. A good example would be flying in the same direction as nearby traffic. It’s very appealing to the eyes and makes you feel like you’re moving with them. But don’t do that with fog!

    It looks a lot better to fly against the fog, while still maintaining your composition with the subject. Another good example is flying towards leading lines—know which path you’re going to take, and compose your shot accordingly.

Spiral by Jason Liu on 500px.com

Q: What is your favorite part of drone photography?

A: I’m always looking for new perspectives that not many people have done: like places that you couldn’t squeeze through previously, because it’d either cost way too much or because the technology wasn’t there yet. And now that the technology and methods are more accessible to photographers, we can bring our ideas into existence more easily. Through my drone photography, I want to push the boundaries of what’s possible and show how beautiful and diverse our world is.

Follow Jason Liu

500px: 500px.com/jsnliu
Instagram: @jsn.liu

Shadow by Jason Liu on 500px.com

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