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Beginner Drone Photography

Lesson 15 of 26

DJI Intelligent Flight Modes


Beginner Drone Photography

Lesson 15 of 26

DJI Intelligent Flight Modes


Lesson Info

DJI Intelligent Flight Modes

So you know how to fly, just like the takeoff, and learn to takeoff on your own, learn to land on your own. And then when you feel comfortable, do the automatic modes. Again, going back to the boat, you're going to find yourself in scenarios where you need to be on it. When I'm on the boat, my home point has changed because the boat has moved. So that return home is kind of pointless. I can reset it in the settings, but by default it's way over there where your boat was. So, I need to feel comfortable with bringing the drone close by and landing it either on the boat if there is enough room, or I can hand catch it, which sounds really dangerous, and it is. (laughing) Disclaimer. But if you feel comfortable with that, I have a tutorial on my website specifically on how to hand catch your drones. Check that out. The key for that is you're going to find yourself in a situation... Maybe not a but, but maybe you're at the beach and there is all this sand. You don't want to bring your drone ...

in and have all that sand kicking up into your props, getting in your motors, that's not good. I was at a location where it was all muddy. It was like, I'm not going to set my drone in the mud. So there is a situation where it's going to be helpful to be able to understand what's going on and to hand catch it. So checkout that tutorial if you want, its on But the key is is that you're comfortable with flying, comfortable with taking off, landing, now it's time to have some fun with the intelligent flight modes. And this is some really cool things that DJI builds into their drones that give you some added, advanced techniques, all with the push of a button, which is pretty cool. So I'm just going to walk you through some of them. The DJI Intelligent Flight Modes... If you remember when I first walked you through the DJI Go app, it was a remote controller button just like that and it was down on the left-hand side of the screen. So if you're like where are the flight modes? It's down on the left-hand side of the screen on that main screen that we were looking at. You push that, you're going to get a menu like this. Now depending on what drone you have, this might look a little different because the Mavic 2 Zoom has an intelligent flight feature that the Phantom and the Mavic 2 Pro don't, a dolly zoom. Why? Cause it has the zooming feature. The Mavic Air has a really cool boomerang feature that the Phantom does not have. But what I've done is I've basically taken the main intelligent flight modes. And again, if you are in this menu, you pop it up and you're like I just wanna go back to flying, click normal and you go back. So that's the quick way to get back. But I'm gonna walk you just through some of these and just kind of explain them. So we have the Draw feature. What you can do is you can enter the Draw intelligent flight mode, and you'll see what your camera's seeing. So if your looking out at a field, you can with your finger literally draw a box, and it'll show up and you can hit go, and it will fly that path. Or you can draw a line out to the sunset, and it will follow that path. So kinda cool. I don't really ever use it, but it's there. The next one, Gesture. I guess if you're alone and you want to take a selfie, something like that. You can do funny poses like this to take a picture, you could start the picture and count down 3-2- and then pose and it'll take a picture for you. (laughing) I guess that's pretty cool. I don't use it a ton, but you can do different things and it does different stuff. It can capture a picture of you, video, stuff like that. Interesting. Now, ActiveTrack, now that's a really cool one. So ActiveTrack. What I do for ActiveTrack is, if I want to track someone... These drones are smart. I can kind of, at least with these smaller drones, not the Inspire, I can kind of mimic the Inspire by having two pilots. So if my drone is tracking someone through ActiveTrack, I can then just focus on the camera. So I could focus on controlling the gimbal so I can move the camera down or up or whatever, and if my drone is tracking that person the whole time, I basically have a co-pilot. So that's a really cool feature. If you wanna try that out, it kind of feels like you have two pilots manning the drone. But one thing that's cool about that is you can track your friend riding a bike, a skateboard, a car. There's lots of options for that. And you'll be impressed, it is an impressive feature. Basically what happens is, you point your camera the subject, you push on your subject, it detects it, it draws a box, and you're like wow that's magic, and then you hit go, and it tracks the person. You can adjust the speed. If the person starts going faster, it'll pick up speed. So a pretty awesome feature, really interesting. Next we have TapFly. The cool thing about TapFly is instead of drawing on your screen, you can just tap off into the distance and then you can say go and it'll just start heading that way. And you can then just focus on gaining altitude or descending and it's flying that way. So its another way for you to feel like you have a second co-pilot because you don't have to focus on every single thing. The drone's kind of taking care of the movement. You can yaw. So pretty interesting. Tripod mode. This is a cool mode. So much so that DJI actually made the switch here on the Mavic 2 Tripod mode. So here on the Phantom, we have Positioning, Sportmode, and Adimode. On here, the Mavic 2 controller, we have Tripod, Positioning, and Sportmode. So its actually really cool that they added the Tripod mode. What Tripod mode does is it really slows down how fast your drone can go. So sometimes you want to... To kind of go back to that question I got earlier, if you want to really dull down the sticks, I believe it goes 2.2 miles per hour, but the drone won't go faster than 2.2 miles per hour. So even if you're like this, it's going 2.2 miles per hour. Why is that cool? Well I found that to be pretty interesting for when I wanted to fly through tree branches, it's a really tight spot. And I'm even kind of nervous in that situation. I'm like, am I gonna crash, right? Even if I go all the way like that, its not gonna... (vrooooom) hit the branches. It has to ease into those moves. So this can be really cool if you're trying to get a cinematic shot. That's when I'll switch over to it. I wanna go like around someone nice and easy and not worry about am I putting too much pressure on my sticks, finding that balance. When you guys are doing the orbit, you'll know what I mean. You're like finding the perfect balance. It's really helpful setting. And the one thing that that made me think of too is Adimode, just to go back to that for a quick moment. It can be really helpful if you're doing something indoors. Because like in here, I'm not sure if we're actually gonna get GPS signal. It might not... If we were to take the drone off, I don't know if it would hold. There is a good chance it probably wouldn't. So if I was flying something indoors like down a hallway of an architecture project I'm working on... I would kick it over into Adimode, and then what you can do is you don't have to worry about if you get close to the door, automatically it gets a GPS signal and your shock jerks. Cause its like, oh signal! Or whatever like that. But I do wanna note that these drones now, I mean the new drones they all have sensors. They can detect the ground. So there's ways around it if it doesn't have GPS signal. I don't think that's a huge issue, but definitely something I would do back in the day, is Adimode would be the mode I'd be flying with indoors, if that makes sense. Okay, Terrain Follow. This only works going uphill, but you can put it in that mode and because it has the downward sensors, it will detect the ground. And if the ground starts to get higher and higher, the drone will ascend on that path. So that could be a pretty cool shot I guess if you're not really sure how much to climb. You can flip it over into that mode, and it will constantly monitor the distance to the ground and keep ascending as the ground is ascending, if that makes sense. Okay, Point of Interest. This is the cheat one. I totally could have done it to trick you guys when I was doing the orbit, but I was all by hand. But Point of Interest is so cool, I actually use this the most. That, Tripod mode, and another one I'll tell you about in a minute. Point of Interest, why? Because I can get my arcs nice and perfect. Basically what I do is let's say I'm on a mountain cliff, I'm looking out at sunset and I want to get that epic shot of the drone sweeping around me. Well if I'm standing right here, I fly the drone right over me. I'm in Point of Interest mode. I then mark that as my Point of Interest, and then I fly the drone out to make the outer ring. So this is now the center of the circle. Then what I can do is I can make the drone go in a perfect circle, closer or further, and I can gain altitude and go lower in altitude. So really cool feature because it's perfect orbits. I tend to do any orbit shots with Point of Interest, so I'm definitely using that mode. I'm not gonna try to find the perfect balance when the software is perfect. So what that does is that allows me to get really cool sweeping shots where I can kind of start at eye level and then gain altitude behind and then descend and it's a perfect arc, such a cool feature. You definitely want to try that. Follow Me. You can follow... We can treat the remote controller as your point, so you can try that out. To kind of summarize that, the ActiveTrack, the ActiveTrack is another subject. I'll be honest with you, I don't use that too much. Waypoints. This is really handy. If you do any type of real estate stuff, you want to get a time lapse of a construction project. What you can do is you can take your drone, you can fly it to a spot and say right here is waypoint one, record GPS. Fly over here, this is waypoint two, record GPS. Three, four, five, six, seven, whatever. Then you can hit start, and your drone will go from point one to point two, to three, to four, to five, to six, to seven, and complete the path that you made with waypoints. Now why is this helpful? Well you can actually save the waypoint data. So a cool feature... I know one of our guests shoots 360 stuff. This is a cool feature for you guys. What you could do is you could be like... Let's say there is a new building being constructed. You're gonna do a drone time lapse of it. You can be like, I'm gonna take my drone up 100 feet, and I wanna get a full... I wanna record imagery around the whole building, the whole site. So you set all your waypoints. You capture all your data. The drone's going around and you're snapping pictures, taking video, whatever. You save that. You can come back next month, load it, it'll go to 100 feet, and it'll remember all those spots. Next month, next month, next month, and then you can, in post, cut to each clip and show the building progressing over time. Isn't that like so cool? Really cool feature. So if your thing is a little more automated, another project you could do, you know... Just set waypoints, you don't have to worry too much about automatically flying. It's a pretty cool feature. Home Lock. This is a cool one for you guys to think about. Sometimes... I will be confused on where my drone is. I'm like, I think it's over there, I think it's facing that way. And so I'm going forward and it's going further away, ah I was facing the wrong way. Home Lock is awesome, because what you can do is you can kick it into Home Lock and pull back on your sticks, and no matter where it is it's gonna come back. So if it's way over there, you just pull back. Even if it's facing the other way. Back is coming to you, or I should say coming to home. So if you're by where it took off, it'll come back. Super awesome feature. The same thing, if you go forward it'll go away from home. So that's super handy, especially when I get like, where's my drone? I just go Home Lock, pull it back, there, right there. Out of it, I know where it is, and I fly. That make sense? That's like a little tip for you guys. And then Course Lock, this is pretty cool. You can lock the heading of your drone, so which way the drone's facing. So if I wanted to do Course Lock, let's say straight ahead Course Lock, my drone will go forward, but I can yaw and face you guys, and it's still going forward. I can turn around and it's still going forward. So that's really handy. It's really cool for when you're filming. That's a great feature. So, some of my favorite modes in here is ActiveTrack, Tripod, Point of Interest, Home Lock, and Course Lock. But look at the features in your DJI drone and see what it has. Because like I mentioned, the Mavic Air has some extra features, like a really cool boomerang effect. It's really cool, I wish my drone had it. Some of the Mavic 2, it has features that maybe the Phantom doesn't have. So do some research, check it out, but these are the main ones. And what's cool is DJI keeps adding intelligent flight modes all the time. Why? Because essentially this is a smart computer that can fly. So they just program it and they make these really cool flight modes that make it simple for us to get some really cool, interesting shots.

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.