Have you ever wondered how people take those pictures that look like they are shot above the legal limit of 400 feet (in the US)? Here is one solution.
1) Go to the IOS App store or Google Play and download the Drone Deploy app onto the device you use to pilot from.
I know it is annoying to have to register and sign up for another online account, but I haven't found a better method and Drone Deploy generously offers a one month trial of their 'Pro' subscription. Thankfully no credit card is required to sign up for this offer and after your trial month, you are automatically switched to a free subscription that allows you to make 5 images per month. Drone Deploy offers many cool services but this post will just focus on the image stitching feature.
2) Plan your flight.
A nice feature of this method is being able to plan flights in advance. Click on the + icon and select 'plan a flight.' Begin by entering an address or zip code or finding the location you want to shoot on the map. Then click 'plan here.' A blue square will appear with green lines showing the automatically generated route the drone will fly. Adjust this square to cover the area that you want framed. It is important to set the altitude to the legal limit to reduce the number of pictures generated and the time it will take to fly the mission. I usually set mine to 390ft if I am launching from the highest altitude point of the area I am flying in. The software does not account for elevation changes of the terrain you are flying so if you are in a hilly area you may encounter warning messages if you set the flight altitude for 390ft but then launch from an area that is for example 50ft below the top of an area you are shooting (390ft + 50ft = 440ft illegal altitude).
The program estimates the amount of time it will take as well as the number of batteries. If it will take multiple batteries you simply press the home button in the Drone Deploy app when your battery gets low. The drone will pause the flight, return to switch batteries, and then pick up where it left off when the new battery is in and you hit the fight button in the app.
3) Upload images and wait.
After you have completed the flight you need to upload the image set to Drone Deploy for processing. Hit the + icon again but this time choose 'upload images.' Once you have selected the images from your memory card you can begin the upload which can take a while depending on your internet connection. After that is complete, Drone Deploy will automatically begin processing the separate images into one map. This step usually takes at least a couple of hours and sometimes a lot more depending on the size of the area you've shot.
4) Export image.
5) Download and resize.
Once you have downloaded and decompressed the file, you may have noticed that it's very big. If the area you shot was large (100+ acres), it's likely the file will exceed the file size limit that some programs like Light Room have for importing (LR requires a file smaller than 512 megapixels or 65000 pixels per side). You can resize it in Photo Shop or a free option like Gimp. When you've got it to a more manageable size, you can then edit in LR, Instagram, or any other app.