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Beginner Drone Photography

Lesson 2 of 26

How Dirk Got Started With Drones


Beginner Drone Photography

Lesson 2 of 26

How Dirk Got Started With Drones


Lesson Info

How Dirk Got Started With Drones

So a little bit how I got started. Just to give you guys some background, I've been taking photos since about 2007, I actually started with my iPhone, believe it or not the first iPhone. It had a decent camera on it and I always had it with me so I was always taking pictures. And, I got really into photography from that. It was actually just a hobby for a few years but then I started to get more serious, I started to pursue it, and I got really into it. I had a lot of opportunities to work with clients like Nike and Toyota, and various brands. And it was about that I remember kind of getting a little bored with my own photography, to be honest with you, shooting on the ground. And I didn't-- I don't know what it was but I kind of got stuck, I felt like I was just shooting the same stuff, I wasn't super inspired, I was kind of posting to post online and get the likes and get the comments which is so funny because I never started photography for that reason. It was always because I want...

ed to capture an image and tell a story. So it was really interesting that things started to shift where I was taking pictures to get likes and to get comments and I was like, "Oh, what kind of place is this that I-- "I don't want to be in this place." And so I needed to mix things up, and I remember my dad, he brought home this drone called the Parrot AR, and you controlled it with your iPhone and this was mind blowing, because I actually, as a hobby, loved to fly little RC helicopters and airplanes, but I don't know if you guys know, flying those like, it's really hard and if you crash it can be very expensive, and so I was pouring tons of money into those hobbies when I was little. And so I remember when my dad brought this, we took it up, and the drone just kind of hovered, and I was like, "Whoa!" Like, I didn't have to constantly be on the remote control controlling it, it didn't crash. And I was like, "This is so rad." And this actually had a little camera on it, and so I was like, "What is this? Wow!" And I found out it was essentially a quad-copter. And from there, I started to do more research, and I eventually upgraded to the DJI Phantom. And this is back when this drone specifically didn't have a camera built into it. So, I had to put a GoPro on it, which is cool, 'cause the GoPro was a good camera. But what made things pretty difficult is I couldn't actually control the camera, so I would have to put it up there, and then put it in like a time lapse mode, to take a picture every five seconds. And so what was interesting about that is it became really hard to take pictures right, because the timing would be off. I would go fly somewhere, I would try to like, make sure I--I wanted to get like, say a surfer in the shot and I would hold and I would be like "One, two, three, four, five-- alright I think "I might have got it. Hope, cross my fingers right?" But I remember really early on, with this same set up, I got this image of a surfer and I got home, I checked it out, my mind was blown. I'm like, "He was, like perfectly in the center, "He had like a cool form." I'm like, "This is my new passion." Like, this is what I want to pursue. I want to learn everything I can about aerial photography. And, really this like changed my life because I got super excited. So then from there it became about, now what could I do? So you guys know, maybe, in Chicago there's the bean, a famous landmark. And I remember like after that surfer shot it was like, "Oh, what could I shoot?" And this popped in my head, and the reason why is because this is my photo and I've seen lots of photos like this, but I never saw what the top of the bean looked like. And I'm like, "I'm gonna do that. I'm gonna wake up early, "I'll do sunrise before anyone's there." And what was crazy to me is-- can you guys see the buildings in the reflection, and they're all angled in? And this was like, oh my gosh. This is so cool. It truly is a completely new angle considering how much photography we process every day right, I never have seen this image. And so I got really excited, and now I just wanna show you guys some of my work, some of my drone work. So this is a beach down in SoCal. This is out in the desert in Glamis. Another beach in SoCal. I've never really seen this angle too, where you're looking back at the shore, you know, maybe the closest you could get is on a pier, but then the pier would be in the shot. This is a skatepark. Lombard, San Francisco. And I knew that this was a really crooked street but you know, seeing it from this angle it's like "Wow, that's so interesting, the flow of that." There's that pier. This is out in Salton Sea. And I just started shooting... People, like let's see what we could do with this. And to me like, what's interesting is This like looks like a really tiny land, you know? It looks like a tiny little playground and it's like, just taking that drone up a few hundred feet completely changes the feeling of the setting, right? This is out in Arizona. I really like to take pictures of roads. It's like a fascination of mine. This is in Iceland. I've seen the black sand beach with the big chunks of ice, but I've never seen it like looking down and this is one of my favorite shots I got in Iceland. This is up in Canada. This is back in Iceland, travelling through like a, glacier lagoon, something like that. Tiny little surfer right there. And what's cool to me about shots like this is like, it allows me to get higher than the trees, and in this case higher than the fog, right? You know, and you can see the sky and that's one of my favorite images right there. And then just looking for cool patterns and I started to see like, oh this harbor I always pass by. This has an interesting shape to it, interesting pattern. It's interesting to me like how shadows start to play out when you're looking down and it's flat. Got to shoot some wildlife. And it's like, how else would you get this shot, right? You can get close to it, you can get a profile in a boat and stuff but like that top down, really difficult. And plus I'm high enough I'm staying away, hopefully not disturbing wildlife when I'm shooting, that's always my goal. I thought this was so interesting. You have the divide of the two colors, right? It's not, there's no photoshop tricks on that. I brought up the green, brought up the yellow but a natural divide there and it's like wow! I don't know that I would have saw that on the ground. And then I would have fun, this was early on after watching the movie Inception. Any fans? I was like, oh space! And I'm like, "What if I use my on the ground camera to do "long exposure with the drone's lights?" And, these were some explorations I did. Kind of created this like, Sci-Fi something. And then I would just create these little short videos that they don't have a whole lot going on but I just found them to be interesting just because of what the drone could do. [Airy Music] And again, it's just like a short little clip but it's like Oh, so cool! And I remember my friends were like What in the world, right? Seeing themselves so tiny as the drone would go further away And I noticed looking at this really close that there's some shake and it's because the old drones the gimbels weren't as solid to keep that camera smooth so it's interesting to see how things have advanced. Another little video I did at local skate park early on. [Instrumental Piano Music] [Skateboards Rolling And Clapping] Again, just these little vignettes, right? There's not a whole lot of story telling, something crazy but it's like, this angle is so mind blowing to me. And then, we had some--we had a little surprise that we wanted to share with some family and friends so my wife and I, we made this video. [Upbeat Whistling Music] So just having a little bit of fun with it and trying to explore new ways to share news, like we're having a baby. And now I just wanna share with you guys my aerial reel. And this is just a compilation of some of the places I've been, some of my drone footage compiled into one single video. [Calm Instrumental Music] [Waves Crashing] [Birds Chirping] [Waterfall Cascading] [Waves Roaring] [Car Driving By] [Wind Rushing] So yeah, that's a little bit about my work and my story of getting into drones. I now want to talk to you a little bit more about the name, From Where I Drone. So, when I first started shooting with my drone, one of the things that is interesting is I came up with this name called From Where I Drone, and it's really a play, it was to be a joke on a very popular hashtag called #fromwhereistand Maybe you've seen this online. People will look down and they'll take a picture of where they're standing, "from where I stand." They look down and they take a picture, it's usually they have cool shoes, it's a nice floor, something like that right? And I remember taking my drone up and I was looking down I'm like, "Oh, from where I drone." It was totally a joke right? So I put that on some of my early drone photos when I posted online, and I would get some chuckles. People are like, "Oh!" They got it, thought it was funny. So I just kept putting it. Well one day I actually decided to click on it. I never clicked on the hashtag. So I clicked on the hashtag, and I remember it was just maybe three months after me using it. I remember finding about 400-500 photos that people used that hashtag and they tagged their own photos with it. And I was like, "What!" That blew my mind because in the early days of drones, it was really hard to find someone that also had a drone. There weren't really any websites. There weren't training places that you could go to. I literally did not have a friend or even an acquaintance, anyone I could ask about "How do you do this?" "Which one do I buy?" "What does this mean?" And so, the reason why that was so cool to me is I could click on that tag and there was all these people all around the world that, we had a shared thing, right? And, I started connecting with them. I would comment, I would like. I would follow, I made friendships. And, I was like, you know what, I'm going to start an account. I'm going to call it @fromwhereidrone So I started that account and I'm like I wanna share these people's media, all the things they're capturing with their drone and I want to share it with the world. I want to help spread this message of, "Look what we can do with a drone! Be inspired!" Because I was absolutely being inspired. So it started off as a joke but now it's like, it's my brand and it's our community and it's a way for us to connect with other like minded people. What's really interesting is the hashtag on Instagram alone just passed 750,000 tags and that's not including YouTube and Twitter and Facebook, that's just Instagram. So 750,000 tags on the way to a million. Super cool. And if you guys click on that hashtag you're gonna find so many people doing amazing things all around the world. And I have literally found-- I have friends because of this hashtag. It's so amazing how that can connect people, right? And just as a little side note: You guys need to find a community, get a buddy that you can fly with, click on this hashtag, see if there's someone local and maybe you guys can link up you can learn from them. It's so important to have support. I encourage you guys to find community, you can absolutely find it through the hashtag as well, gotta do a little bit of digging. Please, utilize that. So from there, like I mentioned I started @fromwhereidrone and really cool, this community, this page specifically is the page where I feature really awesome work from that hashtag. So, if you wanna possibly featured on here, tag your work. I'll go through and each week I'm going through I'm finding new stuff to share, to feature, to inspire the community and to help other people learn about the drone pilots out there that are taking really cool photos and videos. So this is @fromwhereidrone and as of right now has over 200,000 followers and the reason why I share that is just because it's interesting to me that something that started off as a joke no big plans, has built into something that, what I think is pretty cool, really inspiring. I'm inspired everyday by the people that I'm meeting through this tag and through this account, so please check it out, join the community, it's so easy. You just hashtag your stuff. Super easy. So, of course when I started this account in the early days I was getting tons of messages, people saying, "How are you doing that?" "How are you getting this angle?" "What is a drone?" Like, what do you mean, what is that? "What model should I buy?" All these questions, and I would literally reply to all of them. And I remember thinking one day like, "It might be a little easier if I just started a website "and I could post a link to the page "and they can go find it on their own." And so from there, after that started to build up a little bit, in I launched and this is my website, and I literally created it for you guys, for people that are interested in drones. I have tutorials on there for beginners, for intermediate users, and for advanced users. And my sole purpose is just to help you take better photos, take better videos, and to share the things I'm learning. I'm learning things all the time. The reason why I thought my website was a really cool resource is because there weren't a whole lot at the time. There weren't really any books, like I mentioned, not a lot of classes, and so this became a place where I could steer people. I actually have guests post and I would learn from them, like, "Oh that's such a good point! "I'm glad you posted on my website!" I get double benefit there, but I was learning from the community. It's really all about us sharing, learning, growing together pushing each other. So From Where I Drone has taken off as a cool community resource, but it's also given me a little more visibility. I've had an opportunity just this year to create a drone calendar. So this is on Amazon. If you guys have any interest and you're looking for a new calendar. I've put my URL right there, just to make it real easy to get to. So if you were to type in you can go right to that page. This is the 2019 calendar, it just launched on Amazon. What's really cool is we're already working on the which I'm like, "Man 2019 hasn't even come yet and we're talking about 2020?" But really cool, and then another exciting thing is I have a drone book coming out in Spring 2019. I'm so excited, especially because I'm working with a great publisher in New York called Rizzoli, and it's gonna be like a coffee table book. So keep your eyes out if you're interested in that, again what an awesome opportunity. Just because I've been into this hobby, I've gotten really excited about it, it's become a passion and now have really cool opportunities like being here with you guys.

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.