How to master the basics of editing drone photos for real estate?

This tutorial will discuss editing aerial photos. In other words, images that are shot with a drone.

Because drones always move, taking a series of bracketed exposure is impossible – as a tripod does. Because of this, they are taking the same shot is impossible. As a result, editing aerial photos are different, but the product is similar to the usual exterior images.

With aerial photos, it is relevant to note that lens correction cannot be enabled.

First, open the raw file and do several basic editing. Remember that every photo is different, so edit the image for it to look best.

Next, import and duplicate the edited raw photo into Photoshop. Like in regular exteriors and twilights, the first layer will be the foreground, and the second layer will be the sky. Optimize the edited areas of the sky’s layer. Turn its temperature cooler into a deeper blue and decrease the foreground layer’s exposure.

After editing the two different layers, duplicate them. Later on, mask the deep blue sky into the warmer foreground,l usually including the property’s house and sections. Like in editing stock exterior photos, use an inverted layer mask on the sky layer, then use the paintbrush tool to color the sky.

Once again, merge the two layers. Apply Dfine 2 – which can be found in the Nik Collection’s Filter menu – for noise reduction. After reducing the noise using Dfine 2, clicking the Viveza plug-in is optional if you aren’t finished already.


Aerial photos are shot from a high viewpoint from a drone. And since the drone is always moving a little bit, the photographer can't take a series of bracketed exposures for HDR fusing like they do from a tripod.

So there will only be one raw file for each photo.

As a result, the aerial editing process does a little bit different, but you still want the end result to look similar in quality to the normal exterior photos.

First, open the raw file in camera raw, and do a number of basic edits.

Here is a basic breakdown of the types of edits you'll likely do for aerial photos in camera raw.

Remember that every photo is different, so you will want to use your discretion and make edits to make the photo look best.

It is worth noting that unlike the rest of the photos you will be editing, you will not enable lens correction for aerial photos.

Next, import your edited raw photo into Photoshop and duplicate.

Like regular exteriors and twilights, your first layer will be for the foreground, and your second layer will be for the sky.

Open your Sky layer in camera raw, again, and edits optimize the sky of the photo.

Specifically, make the temperature cooler and a deeper blue and decrease exposure from the foreground layer.

Once you have these two different layers, duplicate them.

Now that you have your foreground and sky layers duplicated. Mask the deep blue sky into the warmer foreground. Which will, in most cases, include the house and sections of the property. Similar to regular exteriors, create an inverted layer mask on the sky layer and then paint the sky and using the paintbrush tool.

Once your mask looks good merge these two layers. Next, you'll apply Dfine 2 for noise reduction. This plug-in can be found in the Filter menu under the Nik Collection same as Viveza.

After you reduce the noise and Dfine. You can do any remaining edits if necessary in Viveza. However, you may be finished already.

Here are some examples of well-edited Aerial Photographs.

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