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Beginner Drone Photography

Lesson 14 of 26



Beginner Drone Photography

Lesson 14 of 26



Lesson Info


I'll start with Peter Dunfy online who says, "Any estimate of flying time "to get comfortable with flying?" Ooh, that's really good. So it's so interesting. People that are, having a gaming background, I literally will, I'll be like, forward, I hand 'em the control and they're, like, doing, trying to do figure eights. They literally skip over the box. They skip over, they're just, like, going to figure eights. And it's something about that hand-eye coordination where you can look and you can just do this. And then other people who are more nervous, you know, they take the 180, you know? It's very slow, right? And then the yaw comes. And that's totally cool, everyone's different. So I'm gonna say it just depends, like, how are you with maybe games or some video games? Do you feel really good, you're the person that, you know, in Super Mario World, you can do, like, ABAB, you know, and jump around all crazy. And, but, you know, what I would say is, I can get people up to speed on this ...

in just an afternoon. If I had one, if I had a session with one of you, you'd be up to speed really quickly. So the learning curve is easy. I think the way that we broke it down where we talked about the sticks, the right one does this, the left one does that, and then we gave you some exercises to try to focus on, that's really where the key is, because it's not just like you're flying around willy-nilly. I mean, you would actually pick that up pretty quick. But to really have control of it, though, where you're drawing something, that's really where it comes in. So again, I've literally handed someone the remote and they're already trying to do figure eights, and then I've had someone just do it in an afternoon setting. So a couple hours. Great. Questions in the studio? Yeah, great. Just wonder if you could talk to, as far as learning to pilot your drone, at what point, I guess it might not be standard for everybody, but at what point do you start to focus less on controlling your aircraft and more on, let's say tracking an object? At what point do you introduce, you know, motion video to your regimen here? Yeah. I think the key is, like, for me, I think I really felt comfortable is when I completely face the opposite direction and I'm just looking at my monitor, so I'm focused on my monitor, and I'm trying to do all those moves, and where I'm like, yeah, I could do it. 'Cause everything's flipped, right? That's the key is it all flips. So when I felt comfortable being able to do those things, I felt like, yeah, I can, I'm ready. The other thing that I wanted to mention with regards to that is even though I feel really comfortable flying, and I just encourage you, like, face the other way and try it. I am comfortable with that and I can do that. But if I can tell which way my drone is, I always try to face it. And so I'll do this, and it's not because I don't know what I'm doing. It's because I don't have to do any, there's no extra thinking. There's no flipping, there's nothing. It's just, so I'll just kind of, like, even if it's really far away, if I know it's pointed that way, I'll just, I'll rest this way. And when it's over there, I'll just, I'm just kinda pivoting back. And it's not a huge deal 'cause I can still do it, but it's helpful. And you guys saw one of the images I shot was on the boat. I shot a whale, right? So to be comfortable in a situation like that means you have to be really good at flying, right? You have this moving boat, and it's rocking, and in some cases it's moving 'cause we're chasing a whale, right? And it's really easy to get disoriented. I actually, you know, I would be staring at my screen and doing this, you know, and I had to take a little break, you know? I was not feeling good. But even as experienced as I am, I have to be extra on it, and I would never have attempted that if I didn't feel comfortable with flying. But I had to be extra on it because we could start going in the boat that way and then my drone is way over there, and because I wasn't necessarily paying attention to it, I'm not sure which way it's facing, and then I'm like, okay, look at the radar, and then we're even further, and it gets messy fast, right? So I think the flipped is the answer to your question, and you're gonna be looking good, yeah. Any other questions in here with any other exercises, the left stick, the right stick? We've got some more questions... Yes. ...from the folks online. So the question, and I think you talked about this, but Brooke Spollen had asked, "Can the sticks be adjusted to make slower moves "better for video shoots." Yeah. And how do you approach differently if it's still images that you're creating versus video. Oh, such a good question. I mean, I guess it's a great time to kinda introduce this idea. I mentioned to you guys that when I was showing you guys the DGI screen and I pointed out that it was in GPS mode and said that's the mode that you'll probably mostly be flying in, That's represented on the controller with this P, and the reason why it's a P is 'cause that stands for positioning. You're relying on the positioning. And that means that the drone's connected to the two satellites and knows where it is and it's gonna keep it in place when you let go of the sticks. To counter that real quick, I'm gonna tell you that we have ATTI mode, and on here it's an A, and that stands for ATTI mode, and what that means is no longer is GPS holding it in place. If some wind comes by, remember I mentioned that, the drone will start drifting with the wind. It doesn't care about holding it in place. So with that being said, it's the same thing on the Mavic. It's our switches here, P, actually, the Mavic doesn't have that ATTI Mode. Only the Phantom does. But the setting I skipped over on purpose is the S mode, and that is sport mode, and what that basically means is the drone has, like, an extra added boost. When you go forward, it goes vroom! It goes, it takes off. Everything's extra aggressive. It's fast. I remember the first time when I was flying my Phantom 4, it has obstacle avoidance on the front, the back, the sides. I was like, sweet. Kicked it into sport mode, you know, it's going 45 miles an hour. I'm just like, this is so fun. Let's try the obstacle avoidance. I start heading for a hill, and next thing I know my screen's crumbling like, what? Oh, it crashed. I hit the hill. Why? Because obstacle avoidance doesn't work at full speed. It's like, read the manual. Like, don't be like me. You just take it out and you're like, I know how to fly a drone. It doesn't work at full speed, okay? Now I know. That's the thing I can preach to you. But I'm getting to the answer. It's a long way of getting there. Things are extra aggressive in S mode, sport mode. So that's awesome because, to answer her question, if I'm flying here and getting my shot and then I see, like, a train coming, I'm gonna switch it to sport mode, fly over to get that shot, to make sure I get it, and then kick it back to positioning so it holds in place and it's not so squirmy. Because in sport mode, if you just barely tap on it, it wants to go quick. So when I'm trying to get a shot, I'm usually in P mode, if that's for a photo or a video. If I'm racing against something, it's in sport mode. If I'm chasing a car, I'm probably in sport mode 'cause it's going fast. And then one other thing, then, kinda to answer that question, inside the DGI GO app, there is a setting that you can play with called the expo settings. E-X-P-O, exponential. And what that means is you can adjust the exponential curves of your remote controller. I actually have a newer tutorial on my website that shows you exactly how to do this and what it means. But here's the gist. If I go forward on my sticks, you guys saw, like, the drone would go forward and kinda match that. You can change the expo settings within the DGI GO app to make it really, really sensitive or really dulled down. So some people, maybe they have twitches, or maybe they just get really nervous so they apply too much pressure. You could dull down the stick so much that to get any movement, there's no movement, no movement, no movement, and then this starts to lunge you into the shot. So, okay then, that's a couple ways how I'd address that question. I do have a tutorial on that specifically addresses the expo settings and how to adjust the exponential curves, which is probably more specific to answering her question. But when I'm in photo mode, I don't care if I'm squirrely, as long as I got the shot. When I'm in video mode, things need to be smooth and gentle and ease, right? So I actually have, what's cool about the DGI GO app is you can have a couple different settings, and so I can make a setting really dulled down and a setting really aggressive, and I can switch to it if I'm doing photo or video. So I don't have to keep adjusting it every time. It's just one or two. So really, really handy, yeah. What's the ATTI mode and how do you use it? Yeah, so ATTI mode, you can't switch it on this drone, but on this drone and on the Inspire, you can kick it over, and that means now you have to be fully in control of your drone. If you let go of the sticks, it's not gonna hover in place. So, like I said, a gust of wind can come and you'll just see your drone going and you're, like, not doing anything. So you could counter that and bring it back or you could, like, and it stops and it holds. But the reason why some professional filmmakers like to fly in this mode is because you'll, you probably picked it up when I was doing the box. I draw the box and it, I let go of the six and it goes, eh. It brakes, right? I turn, go forward, eh. As soon as I let go of the sticks, it breaks, it holds, 'cause it's like I'm holding your drone in place, which is awesome. But sometimes when you're filming, you wanna ease into that. You wanna ease out of that. So kick it over to ATTI mode, fly forward, and you're flying, you let go of the sticks, and it starts to slow down, and it's just gonna stop whenever it loses momentum, right? Or if you pull back to counter it. So you have to manually provide that braking. So that could be really great for getting smooth, easy shots that are nice and smooth, yeah, is the word. Does that make sense to you? Yeah. So definitely that's an advanced thing, I would say. You're not gonna be busting ATTI mode, like, day one, right? Your first time flying the drone. But maybe something to work towards. You're like, all right, I'm gonna try it. And switch it over, see how it goes, yeah. But you gotta remember, like, you're fully in control, so when your drone's getting close to a tree, you have to counter that to bring it away. It's not just let go of the sticks and it hovers.

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.