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Minimalist Photography

Lesson 21 of 27

Arctic Drone Flight Image Review

Curtis Jones

Minimalist Photography

Curtis Jones

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Lesson Info

21. Arctic Drone Flight Image Review
Why certain images work when others don’t. The importance of planning for light and weather, and a comparison of Curtis’s favourite drone images from our adventure on the sea ice.

Lesson Info

Arctic Drone Flight Image Review

I want to go over some of the drone footage, the shots that I took while I was out there and why I, why I wanted to do these shots in the first place and what I was looking for a while. I was out there. I've opened up four images here in Photoshop for this drone shoot, two in color too in black and white. I want to go over the collar ones first and then we'll talk about the black and white. Why ultimately decided that I like the black and white more. So this first shot was taking, taking pretty early on. I've got Torsten and his team over here and I've got this fun little ice feature up to the top left and I think that this has some of the elements of what I was going for. It has a bunch of negative space. It has good direction. I feel like it has good energy and it feels balanced with the visual, wait here in the visual wait here and then just letting the rest of the frame be filled with negative space. The color for me is it's not oversaturated, it's not too intense. So it's not that...

much of a distraction, but it is a little bit off. I was using a filter, an nd filter on my lens on the drone and so I think there was a bit of a color cast, like a magenta, almost teal in some places and the way that the light at that time of day being so low and it was bouncing in and out of that. The filter off the lens, I think we got some weird color play, which ultimately was one of the reasons why I went with black and white. Here's another shot from a little later. Son was a little lower. You can see that the Shadows are a little softer. It's not taken from the top down. Uh, I also wanted to make sure while I was out there that I got a few shots that weren't exactly, completely 90° down and a little more birds II guess. And that was one of these. I just wanted to highlight tourist and his team a little more against the vast empty arctic and I really, I actually enjoy this one in color because it feels a little bit warm. I think that without the color, if it was black and white, it would feel more isolating more desolate, colder and that's not really how the evening felt. It felt warm and friendly and inviting. So I actually like this one in color. The fact that it's not completely top down and there's some context. You can see like mountains and things like that on the horizon really help with that as well. And almost giving like the image a sense of destination, compare that to the black and whites. Here's one of the first black and white. So this is a complete top down and this actually this and the next one. We're almost exactly what I had in mind when I was going out. So I'm really, really happy with these. I want it 90° straight down. I wanted to be black and white stark, just this classic minimal photograph of the dogs and Torsten and I've taken lots of photos of dog teams and dogs and I haven't had a chance to take much with the drone. So I was really, really excited. We had to wait quite a while to get the right night, the, you know, the right light, low wind and all that stuff and the team and everybody's availability to go out and pull this off. And to be honest, when I drew this on a piece of paper and explained it to my friends what it was I was looking for. This is pretty close. It's pretty bang on. I've got really nice long shadows. Uh I think that Torsten and his team being the central piece are super obvious. Uh It's center frame. You know that that's what I want you to look at. I love that they're so small. I love all this negative space. I love that. The lines are kind of offset from the direction of travel. And all this pattern and shape and form is just beautiful. It really looks like a northern shot. It looks like exactly what I had in mind. Just like the second shot in black and white. Again, it's very similar except I've placed him in a different position. It's not centered, it's further or higher, higher up, so I'm further away, so he's much smaller in the frame. It's it's very graphic and I think that the placement here with this much space works incredibly well and I'm gonna be super happy to print this guy up and put them on the wall. I will likely end up printing the first black and white as well, but this is the one that I really am excited to to put up and I love that he's placed in the lower bottom, right, and you've got all of this like sort of lead into the direction of travel. One of the final things that I wanted to mention was how I wanted the dogs direction of travel and where they were going to be very obvious, and it's not always super easy to figure all that out, especially if you've got a drone up in the air and you're dealing with dogs and you're working with somebody on the sled and you're, you know, kilometre away flying a drone. So it was really important to have our plans, sort of, our game plan worked out ahead of time towards them. And I talked about the route that we were going to take a lot of the paths and trails up there are there put in early in the season, snowmobiles, dog teams, skiers. Um, and so everyone kind of uses the same trail systems and so it's very obvious once you're out there, the top down, you can't really tell it sort of blends in. But when you're out there, you know where the trails are. And uh, so we picked the trail that we wanted. Uh, I knew that would have sort of the clean ice I was looking for. It was important to get a certain distance away from the local airport, so we didn't want any other snowmobiles, any other dog teams, nothing that was going to interfere. So we worked all that out in advance and made sure that when we got out there, uh Torsten just had to basically stay on the trail, We stopped maybe three or four times. Just had a little back and forth. I told him what worked, maybe what didn't work if he had to go faster or slower. And then it was basically just up to me to get in position, get ahead of him and usually have the drone up as he passed and then follow with the drone, pass him by, turn around, wait for him to come back into frame and just do a couple passes till the batteries died and repeat that as many times as we could before the sun went down. Mhm. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Mhm.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers. 


  • Understand and apply the fundamentals of creating strong minimalist compositions.
  • Use negative space with intention. Establish mood, control balance in your frame, and elevate your subject from the visual clutter.
  • Avoid common traps that can lead to flat or boring minimalist images.
  • Explore how much information to keep and how much to take away from the image before it loses impact.
  • Understand common gear and technique choices that complement the minimalist style.


Do you ever wonder why certain photographs linger with the viewer long after they see them? Why sometimes the smallest point of interest makes the biggest impression? How so much “nothing” can feel so compelling in a scene? Minimalism photography techniques can add a powerful storytelling element to any genre, they can evoke emotion, and bring balance to your frame. Using Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic as his backdrop, this class will outline Curtis’s approach to creating stronger images with a minimalist mindset.

Learn to use the creative techniques of minimalism to intentionally account for every inch of your frame. Discover how to minimize clutter, work with negative space, and master visual balance to boost the overall impact of your compositions. Working in a clean visual style students will learn to look for strong anchors, shapes, and lines while eliminating visual distractions. Curtis will share his experiences and images from some of the world’s most remote destinations to help kick-start your journey toward simplified, cleaner photographs that capture the essence of our world.


  • Beginner and intermediate photographers interested in outdoor and landscape photography.
  • Photographers who want to understand and create with elements of minimalism to help capture the strength and essence of your subject.
  • Photographers looking to create cleaner, simplified images that leave an impact on the viewer.


Adobe Lightroom Classic (8.4.1)
Adobe Photoshop CC (20.0.8)

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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This is a brilliant course which I can highly recommend. I have done some Minimalist photography but still found the lessons very interesting. I enjoyed the discussion on colour vs. B&W. My favourite part was to learn how long it takes to plan a shoot, wait for the right conditions, even change the subject if the initial idea doesn't work and see the other images taken during the shoot before (or after) the final image. The presentation is excellent - love the cat :-).

Bradley Wari

Great Job! Great course! loved the bloopers, had a few laughs. I really enjoyed how he showed a little of how he worked the scene of a few of his images. showing multiple images and how he got to THE shot.

Deb Williams

Great class, good length and easy to follow along. A fantastic way to challenge yourself to look at composition differently and a course full of useful tips to try out.