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Beginner Drone Photography

Lesson 21 of 26



Beginner Drone Photography

Lesson 21 of 26



Lesson Info


Let me first share with you a couple slides that I want to share with you with regards to my accessories. So I have a landing pad that you guys saw out there, and I like to use this for taking off and landing my drone. And it does a few things for me, it protects my drone from the elements. So I can use this when I take off in the snow. I can use this when I take off at the beach. Even too, when its really rocky, I can set this on the rocks and I at least have a somewhat slightly flat surface. So this could be really helpful. It has 2 sides. But, this could be great too if you get one of the ones with the bright color. Because you can see it from far away when you are trying to find yourself or whatever. But I definitely think you should get some type of landing pad, take off pad. I will say that you could just do like the poor man's version and just get cardboard. That totally works. I did that for actually quite a while. But this is a handy accessory that I think would be worth looki...

ng into. They have them on Amazon. They have them on Adorama. So check out those, a great resource. I want to encourage you to always have an extra battery and this is because even though I was kind of joking about like the 31 minutes of flight time, that is a lot for like a single flight. But if you go out on vacation and you're hiking around for the day and you're bringing your drone, that 31 minutes will go fast, in terms of like being there for the day. So you wanna get an extra battery. I recommend like at least three, get three. If you're doing something with DJI, you can do the fly more combo. That gives you a little carrying case, a charging hub, a couple extra batteries. So that could be a good way to go. Look that up they have them for each of the drones. Next is the charging hub. This is really handy, because right now all the drones, they charge individually. So I have to plug it in, wait for about an hour-ish, go back check it, make sure it's charged, and then swap out the batteries. The charging hub lets me, depending on which one you get for the Inspire, the Mavick, the Phantom. You can put multiple batteries on that charging hub, and then it doesn't charge them all at the same time, but you don't have to keep checking back. I just know like in 3 hours they're probably all going to be charged. So really handy to get that charging hub. Especially if you're on vacation, you go out, you shot all day, you come back to the hotel for the night, and you're like, oh I gotta charge my batteries. You don't want to wake up at like 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, you're just like let it charge, right? Okay get some type lens cleaning kit, just like you would for your DSLRs. Get one of those kits, throw it into your camera bag, wipe off that lens beforehand. I made the mistake of not checking my lens and I've had specs on there, so its a tip to get one of those. You can also get a lens hood. So this is when I used to shoot a lot with my iPad mini. I would put my iPad mini into the controller, so I... My phantom has the built-in screen. But if you don't get that one, then you're gonna have to put a cell phone or tablet in here. And you can adjust it by pushing this button. And it raises up and you insert your iPad. If you just have a cell phone, no big deal, just pop out these little arms and you can set your cell phone right here. But what I used to do is I would have my iPad and then I'd have my lens hood over the iPad. So I'd be like this, like looking at it, right? Cause it gets really hard to see. Like the iPads aren't really super bright outside. That's why I really like this built-in screen. There's also an even better screen that you can get on the DJI website. It costs a pretty penny but it's even brighter than the one I have, it's even bigger. So there multiple options for you. But you might wanna look into getting one of these, they make them for the Mavics. So they can even make them for your phone. So really handy maybe to get a lens hood, this is a great accessory. Definitely recommend you guys getting extra props. So there will come a time I'm sure, where you're gonna have insect guts all over this thing, literally. Cause they're just attracted to it, but then they get too close, and they're goners. So you want to get extra props. But also too, you wanna pay attention to like nicks on here. So if they get, like you hit something, you got really close to a tree and the drone didn't crash, but it got a little nick, you're gonna wanna replace these eventually. And the thing that I always do, is I'm always bringing at least a full complete set and when I'm doing a commercial shoot I'm bringing like four. Like just extra safe, extra careful. So definitely wanna check out getting extra props. And then next up the ND filters, which I know a lot of people have questions about. So if you don't know what a ND filter is, I'm gonna pull out mine. There's various brands. I specifically use Polar Pro I really like the Polar Pro ND filters, and they make a few different versions. And they come in these cases and if I open the up, you can see what ND filter I have by looking right here. This one says ND 64. So this would be for a pretty bright day. And why do I say that? Because the easiest way to think of ND filters, is to think of them as sunglasses over your lens, that's the easiest way. So it's literally, as if I took a pair of sunglasses and held them up in front of the lens, it's gonna be darker, right? So if my lens is letting in less light, because there's something blocking that, I need to open up my camera, right? And this is a real big advantage for those that are shooting video. And why do I say that? I say that because let's say we go out, you guys come with me to So Cal, right, it's a little sunnier down there, you got that warm So Cal sun. And I'm like let's go shoot, right. And you're like, first of all, you're gonna have your glasses on and you're gonna be like where's the shade, right. The sun's beating down on you. I know that's something you guys probably aren't used to. But what you're gonna do though is you're gonna realize, like oh I gotta like kick my shutter up really high, to like 2,000, something like that, right, 4,000. But then you're gonna be like oh but Dirk said I need to keep my shutter, I need to double my shutter. So if I'm shooting 30 frames per second, my shutter needs to be at 1/60. How do I go from having the shutter at 4, because it's so bright, to all the way down to 1/60? Well the way you do that is with ND filters. You put the sunglasses in front of the lens to block out the light. So I have a few versions here. I have, I'll walk you through this one real quick. Woops. ND 256, that's stopping a lot of light, super dark. Let me show you the difference real quick. I put one on already, but I just wanna show you the difference. This is the default UV filter that comes on the Phantom, so clear. It shouldn't have any light being blocked right. And then the 256. And you probably can't even see my face. Yeah, but you can see my face right. If I go with something not so dark, like maybe my ND 8, can you guys still see my face? It's a little darker though, right? So this one's letting in more light, but it's still blocking light, right? So once you guys start to understand that, you start to be like oh, okay, so I can put up one of these lenses and then I can kick the shutter down to something really slow like 1/60, right. You guys already know from shooting with your bigger cameras, that 1/60 will give you some blur if you took a photo, right. But blur is good for video, so we want that blur. So it's really finding that balance. So you may be like, why do you have a 256? This one's obviously blocking a ton of light. I have it because I could shoot waves crashing, high-noon and get like a long exposure of all those waves going and take a photo and I can just like set it to like three seconds and it captures all the light and I get a cool effect, right. So this is a really cool lens. The next one I have is my ND 128, ND 64. You're tracking huh? And then over here I have my ND 32, my ND 16, and the one on there right now is a, I think it's my ND 4. Yep, my ND 4. So, a quick note, when I'm shooting with my ND filters, I don't wanna go through all these calculations of F-stops and blah blah blah. So a cool tip for you guys is to download the Polar Pro app. It's a free app. I'll switch to my screen real quick and ... Sorry, I'm gonna switch to my keynote, I meant that. Polar Pro, this is a great app, it's free. Because all you have to do is just import your frames per second and you put it at what your current shutter speed is and it figures out what ND filter you need. It makes a suggestion for you. So you don't have to do a whole bunch of figuring out, like what is it, you're confused, you're like I have all these lenses, I'm so confused, just let the app do the work. Really handy and super cool. Back to this slide. And just to let you know that if you were to go get your first batch of ND filters, you probably just need the one. You know, like a four, an eight, and a sixteen, something like that. All these are just for like really getting shots that I don't get all the time. It's to get that slow-mo of waves, right, at high-noon. That's not a shot you're getting all the time. So if you're looking at these, I'm not saying, go buy all these lenses. It's like, you probably just need, kind of like the starter pack. It really depends on where you live and where you're shooting. Down in So Cal, I'm probably needing an ND 64 and ND 32, like, that's pretty typical, bright, sunny days. Here, you guys got cloud cover, a ND 16, an ND 8, depending on that, right. So that's just something to keep in mind. Now one thing I'll let you know is I do have ND filters, like this one is an ND 8PL, so I have a polarizer built into that. If you're not too familiar with what a polarizer does, is it reduces glare and it increases the color saturation and the contrast. So this is really helpful, you've seen a lot of my photos, I like to shoot over the water. That can be really helpful to me because the glare on the water can be really annoying. It can like, really ruin the shot. Now, do you have to have one of these to get photos of water? No, you can always just change your angle, your drone angle, and find the angle where the glare isn't too bad, but I like to have, I like to, you know, get the shot if I can, and not worry about changing my angle, because I'm usually really specific. I'm like, this is the angle though, I don't want it to go this way, the angle's like right here. So this is a huge benefit. So the ND filter, it blocks out light, the ND filter with the polarizer, NDPL, has the ND and a polarizer built-in. Can I take a question? Yeah. So are you setting your polarizer before you go up? Yeah, so I'll look on my app, I'll turn on my drone, I'll have it face like the sky, what's the general angle of where I'm gonna shoot, to get an idea of the exposure, and then I will adjust from there. So, one thing to note with, and I'm gonna actually show you guys, try to show you a little demo. Is, if I have my ND filter with the polarizer, let's see if I can get some of this desk in here, see if this works real quick. Okay, that'll work, okay. Close this. Getting cramped up here. Okay, alright we'll make it work, we got this, okay. So I pull up the app. Well first what I do, I go to video, I figure out what's my size, just say we got a fast computer right now, we'll do 30 frames per second. So based on that, my shutter should be 1/60, awesome. So there's my shutter. My ISO is cranked up, and again, in this situation, it's dark, I wouldn't be throwing an ND filter on in this kind of light, so we're just kind of pretending. But, I'm just gonna dial this in, take up my, 400. So I'm gonna punch my settings into that app I just told you about, I'll then get my ND filter, and it's on my drone, and if I have the polarizer built-in, let's see if, like pay attention to this area right in here. What I do, is I turn this ring right here on the lens, my finger is in the way. Do you guys see how the screen's showing up? I'll turn it some more, look at the desk. There's the screen. So I look out and I'm like, do I want my sky to be darkened, do I want the bottom of my image to be darkened? So I start there. Dial in, my settings are good, I then take off. So that's kinda how I work the ND filter. Does that make sense? One thing to note, if you have an adjustable aperture, like on the Phantom and the Mavic, you can obviously adjust how much light is coming in. So you could go all the way up to like, you know, F and you've really closed down the aperture, so not a whole lot of light is coming in. Will that be enough for you to go to 1/60 of a second? I don't know, it depends on your scene right? So not all drones have the opportunity to do the aperture, so it's definitely something that's gonna be case-by-case, right. Okay, when I am shooting though, I can just use a circular polarizer, so a CP. And that can just be to not really block any light, but just to help me with the glare. So you could throw that on and it doesn't really block any light, it's just helping you with glare, color saturation, and contrast. One of the things that I'll say about the filters is they, depending on which one you get, they will either screw on like mine, so I'm just gonna screw this, my hands are slippery probably because I'm nervous. I know I didn't put it on too tight. Alright, well, I must've put it on too tight. My hands are pretty slippery. But basically it just screws off and it screws on. If you have maybe one of the original Mavics, it kind of more just goes over the lens and snaps. So it just depends. They make them for the Mavics, they make them for the Phantoms, they make them for the Inspires. So look it up, you can do some research on it, see people's examples of what they say. And it's interesting, I don't really know what's going on online, but there are some debates about pros and cons. If I'm doing photos, I'm definitely not doing my ND filter. I don't want a slow shutter. I wanna snap it and I want my motion to be crisp. If I'm doing video and I'm in So Cal, that might be a different story. I'm probably gonna be throwing on a a filter, right? So everyone's different, that's what's great about all this stuff, right? It's like what works for you.

Class Description


  • Confidently fly a drone
  • Understand basic legal requirements
  • Execute simple to intermediate drone maneuvers
  • Adjust settings for aerial photography
  • Simultaneously adjust the drone and the camera
  • Use drones to capture a variety of still and video perspectives
  • Edit aerial photography and aerial videography


Sure, drone photography looks just like playing a video game, but controlling an unmanned aerial vehicle while simultaneously working a camera takes essential know-how and practiced skills. Take off with confidence and capture aerial photography and videography at angles you never thought possible. In this beginner's class, learn essentials like safe drone flight, essential photography settings, and basic post-processing.

Work with award-winning aerial photographer Dirk Dallas as you learn to control your drone. Whether your drone is collecting dust or you've just opened the box, this class provides the essentials to fall in love with drone photography and videography. From legal restrictions to selecting and operating a drone and accessories, this class covers all the basics of aerial photography with a drone.

Explore a drone's controls, then learn exercises to help hone your flight skills. Flag potential legal restrictions in the United States. Learn settings and tips for capturing great aerial photography, then incorporate motion with video. Finally, work in image processing and video editing to fine-tune your captures. Whether you want to capture aerial images for real estate, environmental studies, commercial advertising, independent movie production, land-use planning or simply creative photography, start flying with confidence.


  • Any user new to drone flight
  • Photographers looking to expand to aerial photography
  • Videographers eager to add a new angle with drones
  • Drone newbies that want to learn new moves and tricks


FAA licensed drone pilot Dirk Dallas uses drones to capture new angles in his commercial photography and filmmaking. Also a speaker and professor, Dirk is the founder of and the host of the AdoramaTV series From Where I Drone With Dirk Dallas. Along with his creative work, he enjoys teaching and inspiring new drone pilots.


  1. Class Introduction

    Meet your instructor and find inspiration from amazing sample aerial imagery with an eagle's eye view.

  2. How Dirk Got Started With Drones

    Learn how a hobby flying RC helicopters and a newfound passion for photographer merged into a love for drone photography. Dig into the brief history of aerial photography with drone technology and see how UAVs have changed from simple tools to essentials for aerial photographers.

  3. What is a Drone?

    Before diving into aerial photography with a drone, what exactly is a drone? Learn drone basics, as well as other terms frequently used for drones like UAS, UAV, and quadcopters. Explore the different types of camera drones available, many with the best camera built right in. Walk through the different drone options from the biggest drone manufacturer, DJI.

  4. Registering Your Drone

    Aerial photography with a drone has several legal restrictions. The first step is making sure to register your drone with the FAA. Walk through the simple, inexpensive act of registering and learn to avoid scams. This lesson covers registry in the United States.

  5. Drone Terminology

    Like learning photography, aerial drone photography comes with a long list of new terminology. Dig into aerial photography jargon and learn the tools of the trade. Pick up terms like gimbal, GPS and propellers.

  6. DJI Go App

    Controlling your drone starts with an app, a controller, or both. Learn the basics of DJI's Go App and decipher what all those symbols on the screen mean. Navigate the app and get started controlling a DJI drone using the DJI Go App.

  7. FAA Drone Rules

    Aerial photography requires responsible flying. In this lesson, learn the essential FAA rules to understand before you fly. Determine No Fly Zones and avoid collisions with other drones with air traffic rules.

  8. Apps for Flying Drones

    Find all the data you need to fly a drone daunting? Apps can help simplify drone flight. Learn about apps that tell you where you can fly, the flying weather predictions, visibility conditions, drone news, and more.

  9. Pre-flight: Drone Flight Checklist

    Prep for the flight to ensure a safe, successful aerial photography shoot. Go through a checklist to make sure the area is safe and your drone is ready to fly. Make a plan for the flight -- and a backup plan.

  10. How to Fly Overview: Take off, Hover & Land

    Begin learning to fly with this overview. Cover the different drone controller controls. Practice with exercises designed to help you make drone flight feel like second nature. Learn automatic and manual methods for taking off and landing with in-field demonstrations.

  11. Straight Line & The Simple Box

    Continue honing your flight skills with exercises and skills for flight paths. Learn how to fly straight and how to fly in a simple box shape using just one stick on the controller.

  12. The 180 & The Box With Yaw

    Add in the second control stick and learn how to turn your drone around completely, called "yawing." Then, fly in a box shape with a yaw turn. Learn tricks to working with the controls like flipping the controls when the drone flips.

  13. Drawing Shapes

    Expand your drone flight exercises with additional advanced tasks to further build your flight skills. Fly in diagonals, then use both controls simultaneously to fly in a perfect circle. When you've mastered those shapes, try the figure eight exercise and orbiting.

  14. Q&A

    Find answers to the most frequently asked questions on drone flight. Students like you pose questions during the live class, while Dirk digs in and explains.

  15. DJI Intelligent Flight Modes

    DJI builds several different intelligent flight modes into their drones that allow for different flying techniques using remote sensing systems. Learn the different main flight mode options, what route they fly, and how to use the different available options. Master tricks like controlling the drone with gestures, "follow me" mode, and preset flight paths.

  16. DJI Go App: Photo Settings

    Now that you're comfortable using a controller and app to fly, what about that aerial camera? Get started on capturing digital imagery with your drone by learning the different settings. Learn how to turn the camera off auto, as well as how to manually adjust aperture, shutter speed, and aperture. Adjust settings like burst mode, bracketing, white balance, and RAW shooting. Master focus options to get a sharp, high-quality image.

  17. Tips for Capturing Drone Photos

    The perspective of aerial photography is unique -- but impressive aerial imagery is about more than just perspective. In this lesson, gain some essential aerial photography tips, like why you may want to use a low altitude instead of a high one. Learn to work with instead of against the sunshine. Consider composition and height and other aspects for the best drone photography.

  18. Creating Panoramas

    Aerial photography isn't limited to a standard aspect ratio. In this lesson, learn how to import images into Lightroom. Then, build a panorama from several overlapping aerial photos using the same software.

  19. Post Processing for Drone Photography

    Like shooting with two feet on the ground, aerial photography can often be improved with a bit of editing. Walk through the process of adjusting images inside Lightroom. Work with exposure, adding style, and color correction.

  20. DJI Go App: Video Settings

    Step from aerial photography into aerial video. Get started with drone video with the DJI Go app settings for video in a live demonstration. Learn essentials like resolution, frame rate, and shutter speed.

  21. Accessories

    Drone accessories can make flights easier and improve the quality of photos and video. Learn the ins and outs of different drone photography accessories, including landing pads, batteries, hoods, and ND filters. Explore what each one does, which ones are essential, and what's just optional.

  22. Tips for Capturing Drone Video

    Build on your aerial video capabilities with video tips for drones. With the added dimension of time, add in effects like fly over moves. Learn ways to create more dynamic video from a drone in this lesson, as well as tips to expand simply by doing more exploring.

  23. Camera Moves

    Add drama to aerial video by recording while doing cool drone moves. Learn the camera movement that's possible with aerial video using a UAV. Integrate tricks like slowly revealing the subject, using a top-down bird's-eye-view, playing with altitude, circling a subject and more to create a more dynamic video.

  24. Post Processing For Videography

    Video editing is quite different from editing still photos. Work With Adobe Premiere Pro for a few basic video edits, including importing video, then working with cropping and motion effects.

  25. Simple Color Correction For Footage

    Like with still photos, drone videos can benefit from color adjustments. Learn how to use the Lumetri Color tools inside Premiere Pro to correct colors or add style or drama through color correction.

  26. Adding Music & SFX

    Finish the class by learning to add music and sound effects to aerial footage -- since the sound of a buzzing drone isn't exactly pleasant to listen to, if your drone records audio at all. Work with basic audio in Adobe Premiere Pro. Learn how to add and adjust audio. Then, gain some final input on drone photography and videography with a brief Q&A.



Dirk really did a nice job taking new students thru exercises to gain confidence. The work in Lightroom and Photoshop was helpful, but I wish more time could have been focused on flying or tips. Dirk has presets that he offers. It would have been helpful to see the results using those presets. Looking forward to the free which Drone to buy class and the advanced class


I definitely recommend this course if you are thinking about getting into drone photography looking for the fundamentals. I now feel pretty confident I can get started and that my learning curve will be greatly shortened thanks to the technology available today and a great roadmap of getting started. If you are already started... follow up with his advanced topics... I know I will.


Super class. As a beginner I had little idea what to expect and never got started because of all the talk of people crashing drones right and left and losing a fortune. Dallas made it seem simple. So I bought a Tello beginners drone (great starter by the way), got hooked and am now flying a DJI Mavic Pro 2 and studying for a commercial license. Not sure, this is a great class to start with.