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The Photographer’s Guide to Drones

Consumer drones and quadcopters have become the hottest new gear in photography, whether you’re a professional photographer or an amateur shooter. These “flying tripods” have given photographers the ability to place their cameras virtually anywhere they want, creating still images and video footage that were previously impossible to capture. Many...
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  • Print and eBook Bundle: $49.99
  • Print Book: $39.95
  • eBook: $31.99

The ebook is available now and the print book is available for Pre-order. The estimated ship date is April 06, 2019.
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Colin Smith


252 pages


10 x 8in


Soft Cover





  • Chapter 1
  • Safety and Regulations
  • Safety
  • Regulations
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 2
  • Drones and Gear
  • Different Platforms
  • Filters
  • First Person View (FPV)
  • Batteries
  • Chapter 3
  • Flight School
  • Pre-Flight Check
  • FPV App
  • Control Basics
  • A Dozen Exercise Patterns to Fly Like a Master
  • Advanced Flight Modes
  • Self-Flying, Robotic Flying
  • TOAL: Takeoff and Landing
  • Chapter 4
  • Shooting Photographs with a Drone
  • Foundational Rules of Photography
  • Special Types of Photography
  • Chapter 5
  • Shooting Video with Drones
  • First-Person View in Video
  • Video Basics
  • A Word on Compelling Video
  • Video Movement
  • Chapter 6
  • Basic Photo Workflow in Lightroom or ACR
  • Media Downloading and Tips
  • Asset Management in Lightroom
  • Basic Lightroom Workflow
  • Local Corrections
  • Fixing the Bad Stuff
  • Finishing Techniques
  • Sharpen
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 7
  • Advanced Photo Editing
  • Panoramas
  • High Dynamic Range (HDR) Images
  • Photoshop Masking
  • HDR Panorama
  • Special Effects
  • Chapter 8
  • Editing Aerial Video
  • Free (Or Almost Free)
  • Trimming Clips
  • Photos from Video
  • Color Grading
  • LUTS
  • Plugins for Stylized looks
  • Fixing Common Aerial Video Problems
  • Encoding
  • Parting Words
  • Index

1 review for The Photographer’s Guide to Drones

  • It’s too easy to tear open the packaging of your new drone and view the plastic, toyish-looking device as just that- a toy. It seems similar to the Cox planes and Estes model rockets of yesteryear- an amateur’s way of enjoying flight. But drones aren’t toys- they’re heavily regulated, highly sophisticated, and potentially quite dangerous. And there’s quite a liability when an operator interferes with airspace of manned craft, breaks laws or causes personal/property damage. For all these reasons, Colin Smith’s The Photographer’s Guide to Drones should be mandatory reading for anyone before even considering the purchase.

    Smith does not cover each drone manufacturer and model, of course- your manual will be required reading, but his book approaches drones in general and cites examples of the more common consumer drones as illustrations. Chapter 1 is dedicated toward general safety with drones and the regulations that all operators, professional or hobbyist, need to know. The second chapter is a brief glance at the gear of two major companies, DJI and 3D Robotics. This chapter is already somewhat dated, as new models and features are pouring out from these manufacturers constantly- the background information is good but will require one seek current model and specs elsewhere.

    Perhaps the best part of the book lies in Chapter 3, entitled “Flight School”. Here Smith covers not only the academics of flying a drone, but provides actual lessons, flight exercises of increasing skill levels that need to be mastered before one should feel comfortable simply flying about. The exercises are aimed at developing skills in taking off, landing, and mastering movement in flight while utilizing controllers and the various flight modes that may be available on your drone.

    In Chapter 4, Smith changes hats, from pilot to photographer, and does a spectacular job of addressing the photography opportunities and challenges of shooting via drone. From lighting considerations to framing shots from aloft, the rules apply to all photography but shooting from a drone requires special considerations, and these are time-saving tips that will prevent a lot of frustration and wasted attempts. Even specialized techniques of creating panoramas and HDR images are addressed (it’s here that one sees Smith’s true professionalism with drone work, as these are quite advanced skills). Chapter 5 is similar, but the focus is now on video capture.

    Chapters 6, 7 and 8 are dedicated to post-production, using Adobe’s Lightroom, Photoshop and Premiere Pro to manage one’s data and get the very best imagery from the drone’s footage.

    This is a well-balanced, basic book on drones and photography that would be a perfect textbook for a class or series of workshops for beginners. I read it cover-to-cover before even opening my DJI drone- even before reading DJI’s manual. From his safety to photography tips, Smith’s expertise is obvious and the information that he shares can only serve to make drone operators more skillful, thoughtful, and creative in their use of this new technology.

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