Drones: Learn Aerial Photography and Videography Basics
4.4 (130 ratings)
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Drones: Learn Aerial Photography and Videography Basics

Learn how to safely setup and fly a DJI Phantom and configure it for FPV. Learn how to process aerial photos and video.
4.4 (130 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
2,158 students enrolled
Created by Mark Richardson
Last updated 5/2017
Current price: $12 Original price: $200 Discount: 94% off
1 day left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 2 hours on-demand video
  • 14 Articles
  • 1 Supplemental Resource
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Choose the right multirotor, drone, or aerial platform
  • Fly confidently and safely while obeying the laws
  • Add a video downlink system to your drone
  • Capture aerial shots that tell a story
View Curriculum
  • A computer will be needed to update and calibrate the drone that I recommend.
  • You may need basic tools (soldering iron, wire cutters, screwdrivers) especially when making customizations to your aerial platform.
  • This course is comprehensive - it will offer useful information to those who already have a multirotor as well as those looking to buy.

“Mark covers all the aerial photography topics in this course. Very interesting course over all, and great production quality. If you’ve ever wanted to get a quadcopter and use it to take cool videos and photos, you must take this course.” Scott Duffy

“This is a fantastic course, Mark has really gone over the top to put this together! Get this course Before you get a drone it will be your best investment! Thanks Mark! This Course will make a Great Gift!” MC Mason

Unquestionably, we are in the pioneering stages of a brand new "drone" revolution. Do a google search for this article from CNN Money: Drone Pilot Wanted: $100,000 Starting Salary.

Drones of all shapes and sizes are here to stay. Those people that know how to fly are about to have a whole new world of opportunities open up to them. The photography and videography trades alone have already and will continue to see major transformations as multirotors are used as flying cameras. Business is becoming aware of these options and paying attention to the additional dimension drone work can offer.

It's an exciting time to be a part of this new "drone" economy. Get up to speed and add the valuable and rewarding skill of drone-based aerial imaging to your skill-set.

Photographers and videographers! Do you want to take your images to the next level... literally? This video course is all about helping you to get started taking awesome aerial photos and videos with the use of multirotors (drones) as quickly as possible. At the same time, I’ll teach you to avoid the many pitfalls or problems you may face when learning to fly, choosing an aerial platform, and flying safely. This course contains concise video lessons, PDF guides and helpful links to help you get up to speed and up in the air.

What do you get?

Camera drones are incredibly fun to fly and will add a whole new dimension to your work. If you are a videographer, this course will help videographers and photographers gain the skills and knowledge you'll need to confidently add epic aerial shots to your video projects. Learn the best GoPro settings and post processing techniques to achieve the best video quality.

Still photographers can have just as much fun taking still photos from a multirotor drone. We'll cover taking and processing still photos with a GoPro, as well as stitching aerial panoramas into breathtaking masterpieces.

Real estate agents, farmers, miners, law enforcement officers, sheer hobbyists... the possible uses for aerial imaging are many. Cutting edge technology is making aerial photography and videography more accessible than ever. At the same time it's important to know the laws, rules, and best practices to ensure your success.

Easy Self-Paced Learning

Take this course at your own pace, come back and re-watch sections if you like, or watch the entire course in one go.

Who is the instructor?

Mark Richardson is a full time photographer and videographer who has built custom multirotors and has been capturing aerial imagery for over two years. He's traveled world wide with his current quadcopter, (a Phantom 2) and has mastered the techniques for getting stunning aerial shots while maintaining safety. Mark has hundreds of hours of multirotor flight time under his belt, with a zero crash record on the Phantom 2.

Who is the target audience?
  • This course is for photographers or videographers looking to get into the world of aerial imaging.
  • This course will lay out the various options and give experienced driven recommendations to allow you to start flying drones quickly and inexpensively.
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Curriculum For This Course
57 Lectures
Safety and Common Sense
7 Lectures 17:16

This video course is all about helping you to get started taking awesome aerial photos and videos with the use of multirotors, (drones) as quickly as possible, while avoiding the many pitfalls or problems you may face when learning to fly, choosing an aerial platform, and flying safely.

Preview 02:36

Part 107 - Commercial Use

If you live in the United States, The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has rules and regulations in place that govern how you can use model aircraft and unmanned aerial systems (UAS). This lecture goes over these rules. If you live in a country other than the United States, you will need to find out what the laws are for flying model aircraft where you live.

FAA Regulations

UPDATE - Updated Info

Effective December 21, 2015, anyone who owns a small unmanned aircraft of a certain weight must register with the Federal Aviation Administration's Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) registry before they fly outdoors. People who previously operated their UAS must register by February 19, 2016. People who do not register could face civil and criminal penalties.

Register at: https://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/

Preview 05:47

There are three main rules I live by when flying my quadcopter.

  • Don't be obnoxious.
  • Safety.
  • Respect Privacy.

This video explains these three rules of flying multirotors.

Three Main Rules to Follow

Keeping a log of your flights is important and may be required for commercial use. Here is an example one you can use. Also, if you are using a newer DJI drone like a Phantom or Inspire 1, the DJI GO app automatically records a flight log for you. It's awesome!

Flight Log
Flight Training
4 Lectures 09:49

I give my recommendations for what makes a good inexpensive quadcopter for learning how to fly. Note: Some quadcopter transmitters come in two different versions, Mode 1 and Mode 2. Mode 1 has the throttle and yaw controls on the right while Mode 2 has the throttle and yaw on the left. If you don't know which you prefer, get Mode 2.

Preview 03:11

A quick overview of the basic controls of a multirotor. Multirotor throttle, yaw, pitch, and roll controls explained.

Basic Controls

One of the hardest things about flying multirotors is maintaining your orientation. Here are some tips for how to overcome this difficulty.

Maintaining and Regaining Orientation

Here's a list of maneuvers to practice and master on your practice quadcopter before attempting to fly something larger and more expensive.

Maneuvers to Practice
Choosing an Aerial Platform
6 Lectures 23:56
DJI Mavic Pro Review

In this lecture I discuss the pros and cons of building a multirotor versus buying one that is ready to fly.

Build or Buy?

In this lesson we will go over the various motor, boom, and orientation configurations that are possible and the adnvantages/disadvantages of each.

Multirotor Configurations

A quick overview of the top ready-to-fly multirotors on the market.

The DJI Phantom Sweet-Spot

An overview of the various quadcopter options available from DJI.
DJI Phantom Versions Comparison

A quick look at the Phantom 3 Professional.

Sorry about the audio - apparently there is some interference from the WIFI siginal from the Phantom 3.

**UPDATED** DJI Phantom 3 Quick Look
First Person View (FPV)
2 Lectures 03:21
Quick demonstration of the Fat Shark Video Downlink system.
Preview 02:59

Longer range FPV systems are available. A couple of choices are listed in this lesson.

Longer Range Options (Dragon Link, LightBridge)
Phantom Firmware and Settings
5 Lectures 15:07
While this section demonstrates firmware updates with the DJI Phantom, almost any quadcopter will use a control board that may require firmware updates or setting adjustments from time to time.
Updating Firmware

Learn how to set the parameters for the Zenmuse gimbal using the DJI Phantom Assistant Software.

Gimbal Limits

An explanation of IMU and how to calibrate it.

Advanced IMU Calibration

Return to home and battery fail-safe settings explained.


NASA-M and IOC Modes Explained.

Advanced Modes
Recommended GoPro Settings
2 Lectures 01:50

These are the settings I use for recording video.

Video Settings

These are the photo settings I use with GoPro.

Photo Settings
Preflight Checklist, Takeoff and Landing
7 Lectures 11:29

A Pre-flight and Post-flight checklist to help remind you of all the little details to stay safe and have fun when flying your multirotor.

Preflight Checklist PDF
1 page

This lecture goes over the equipment check and packing the quadcopter for travel to the field.

Equipment Check and Packing

A demonstration of calibrating the compass sensor on the Phantom 2.
Compass Calibration

It's a good idea to do a low altitude hover check to make sure everything is working correctly before taking your multirotor higher.
Takeoff and Hover Check

This video demonstrates two handy landing techniques.

Preview 01:10

An example video of when Return-to-Home Fail-safe saved the day for a couple of my quadcopter pilot colleagues that were capturing aerial video in South Korea.

Fail-safe Demonstration

Fail-safes are great but there are certain situations they won't help you at all.

Situations Fail-Safe will Fail
Aerial Video & Photo Processing and Editing
3 Lectures 09:09

This is the workflow I use when post processing still images from the GoPro camera in Adobe Lightroom.

Lightroom Workflow

This is the workflow I use when post processing still images from the GoPro camera in Adobe Photoshop.

Photoshop Workflow

This is the workflow I use to import and edit 2.7k video from the GoPro camera.

Final Cut Pro X Workflow
Using Aerial Imaging to Tell a Story
3 Lectures 05:41
When going into a production, it is a great idea to create a shot list and include the aerial shots you hope to get.
Aerial Video Shot List

For best results, follow all of the other rules of photography. Vary the altitude. Think about composition.

Best Still Photo Tips

Example from a Road Rally. Aerials gave good establishing shots in each city as well as showed the long lines of cars on the freeway. Watch the full example video here: https://vimeo.com/105600724

Supplementing a Project with the Aerial Perspective
Traveling with your Quadcopter
3 Lectures 03:21

My recommended hard case supplier for traveling with your multirotor.

Best Cases for Travel

A few tips for traveling on the airlines with a multirotor.

Multirotors and Airline Travel

I've only ever had an issue with customs officers once when traveling with a multirotor. That was in Dubai. This is that story.

Preview 00:14
3 More Sections
About the Instructor
Mark Richardson
4.2 Average rating
433 Reviews
8,546 Students
4 Courses
Photographer and Videographer

Mark Richardson is a full-time professional photographer, videographer, and author of the Camera Stupid website. His job has taken him to over 30 countries where he has used DSLR's and drones to capture stunning imagery and aerial video for use in corporate and commercial productions. Mark has scratch built several quadcopters and hexacopters but now prefers the DJI Inspire platform for its ease of use and compact size for travel.

Mark's first love will always be great landscape photography but he is interested many different styles and subjects including architecture, food, portraiture, product, and of course aerial photography.

Mark studied photography, videography, and graphic design at BYU-Idaho where he received a Bachelors of Science. Since graduating in 2009, Mark has worked in the industry using photography and videography to tell brand stories.

Always quick to pick up new techniques and learn new technology, Mark has jumped into aerial photography and videography with both feet and has many hours of flight time under his belt.

Mark has another passion: Helping others find success and happiness in learning. Mark loves to teach people of any age and enjoys learning from students as well. Mark is good at explaining difficult or complicated concepts in a way that anyone can understand.