How Drones Work and Drone Tips for Beginners

silhouette of camera drone flew in mid air

Last Updated on September 10, 2022 by seanmichaelpritchard

Do you need some tips on how drones work to get started taking impressive videos and photography with your new drone?

Drone photography and videography has soared in popularity in recent years. It’s easy to see the appeal with the intriguing possibility of being able to get unique perspectives on your subjects, once you know how drones work!

The hashtag #dronephotography currently has over 9.5 million posts on Instagram alone, fuelling the growing demand for new points of view in popular tourist locations.

So, whether you received a drone as a birthday gift, treated yourself, or have read my recent post on the best drones for beginners and are now considering purchasing your first drone, here are some top tips to get you started with drone photography & videography.

If you’re wondering how drones work, or finding yourself searching the internet on how to fly your new DJI purchase, I guarantee you’ll be well on your way to producing your best drone photography and video footage in no time with these top tips for beginners flying drones.

If you’ve never flown a drone before, a top tip is to remember that with drone flying practice makes perfect. With a bit of patience, you’ll be able to learn how to fly your DJI in a short period of time and become a competent pilot. 

At a glance, this article will cover everything from getting started with your DJI drone, how to fly a drone, how drones work and some useful tips and tricks for dealing with the most common UAV scenarios.

Click a link to skip ahead. 

  1. How drones work
  2. Do research on drone laws before you fly
  3. Use beginner modes to learn to fly a drone
  4. Follow the basic rules for flying a drone
  5. Examine your propellers before each drone flight
  6. Invest in a good drone carrying case
  7. Charge your battery before each drone flight
  8. Check the weather before you fly your drone
  9. Use a landing pad to launch your drone
  10. Beware of birds during drone flights
  11. Remember to check GPS signal and set RTH
  12. Drone video and photography tips

Firstly let’s discuss, how drones work

Taking time to learn how drones work and the principles of drone flight physics can help you become a better drone pilot.

How drones operate may look straightforward to most people, yet a drone is a remarkable piece of equipment that contains sophisticated technology which helps it to work.

The ability to use connection is an important aspect in how drones work. Wireless communication allows pilots to see the drone and its surroundings from above.

Pilots can also use applications to programme precise GPS locations into the drone and establish an automatic flying route. 

The controller is a crucial part of the drone flying system and how drones work. This is used to control every action of a drone, including its launch, navigation capabilities, and landing.

A controller’s primary responsibility is to provide a proper communication link between the remote device and radio waves. Most drones operate on the 2.4 GHz frequency band, and many rely on Wi-Fi networks to make active choices about movement. 

The vertical mobility of a drone is provided by rotors. Drones use their rotors, which consist of a propeller connected to a motor, to hover. This means the downward push of the drone is equal to the gravitational pull acting against it.

Ascending happens when pilots increase speed until the rotors provide an upward force greater than gravity; and descent occurs when pilots reverse the process and lower speed.

The onboard accelerometer and altimeter are two further critical components of how a drone works. An accelerometer informs the drone about its speed and direction, while an altimeter informs the machine about its height.

These elements also aid in the gradual and safe landing of a drone, keeping it from falling into an air vacuum known as a wash, which might draw the aircraft down in an unforeseen manner.

high angle UAV view of green trees

Do research on drone laws before you fly

Drone laws vary greatly between countries and are constantly changing. Some countries prohibit the use of drones altogether, due to strict regulations.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), flying a drone is legal in the United States, but you must be aware of and follow the drone regulations.

In the UK if you use a drone for personal purposes, you must follow the Civilian Aviation Authority (CAA) Air Navigation Order 2016. 

It’s important to note that in most countries drone rules are divided into two categories: recreational and commercial.

Therefore, the rules will differ depending on what you are planning to shoot. If you are planning to use a drone for commercial work, it is highly likely that you will need some form of drone licence.


Use beginner modes to learn to fly a drone

On most drones, there is a beginner mode, which is a terrific place to start! 

Many of the best DJI drones, in particular, feature an excellent beginner mode that allows you to become accustomed with the controls and learn how to fly your drone safely.

This is an ideal place to begin since it allows you to become comfortable with your drone without damaging it or anybody else. 

Furthermore, many drones, particularly those made by DJI, include a simulator that links to your phone, making the question of “how to fly my DJI drone” simple! This is an extra benefit to the beginner mode, which restricts the drone’s height and speed. 

These two modes provide inexperienced pilots a superb opportunity to gain confidence before flying solo for the first time.


Always follow the basic rules for flying a drone

  • You need to understand how to fly your drone safely and legally
  • You must comprehend that you as, the operator, are legally liable for each flight
  • Keep your drone within visual range at all times and to stay below 400 feet
  • Never fly your drone over a crowded place
  • Never fly within 50 metres of another person, car, or structure
  • Ensure that any photographs or film obtained do not violate privacy laws
  • To avoid accidents, never operate a drone near an airport or near aircraft. 
  • Endangering the safety of a flying aircraft is a criminal offence.
woman teaching how drones work

Examine your propellers before each drone flight

Propellers are one of the most essential aspects of your drone.

Ensure you examine the propellers visually before each flight to make sure they are not damaged and are correctly attached.

Any propellers that have been physically damaged should be discarded.

While flying is possible, the force of flying will eventually break them, resulting in a crash. It’s a good idea to have spare props on hand at all times.


Invest in a good drone carrying case

Following on from the point above, to minimise damage try to be certain that no pressure is applied to the propellers when travelling to your destination.

Investing in a good carrying case will prevent damage and ensure you have room to store spare batteries and props.


Charge your battery before each drone flight

How do drones work on a basic level? Battery power!

Before each flight, fully charge your battery and always use an official charger from your drone manufacturer.

A tip to extend the life of your drone’s battery is to recharge it as soon as the battery level drops below 15%.

Also, remember to allow some time for the battery to cool down after a flight before charging it. Most drone batteries are suited to flying in temperatures ranging from -10 to 40 degrees Celsius.

However, if used at temperatures below -10°C, drone battery performance will be significantly reduced.

Another tip for flying a drone in extremely cold temperatures is to try to keep your batteries as warm as possible. Rather than storing them in a case, keep them in pockets close to your body.

If you notice any damage to your battery, such as it is appearing swollen or leaking, discard it immediately.

To keep your drone flying for long periods of time, always keep spare batteries with you. If you’re wondering how to fly your drone for longer, the DJI fly more combo packages are well worth the investment!

Bonus tip: always travel with a decent power bank so you can charge your essentials like your drone batteries on the go.

person learning how to fly DJI

Check the weather before you fly your drone

Checking the weather forecast before you fly your drone is always a good idea. It is not advisable to fly a drone in high winds or rain.

This is just another opportunity to lose signal or have something tragic happen. If you are concerned about the weather, it is not worth putting your expensive drone equipment at risk.

While they can fly in light rain and snow, these are not ideal conditions.

Flying in cold and foggy weather can also be extremely dangerous because your drone’s propellers can become susceptible to icing.

A thin layer of ice can build up on the propeller motors, putting them under more pressure which usually results in a drone crash.


Use a landing pad to launch your drone

This may seem basic, but it might be the deciding factor in whether or not your flight is successful.

If you intend to take off from long grass or uneven terrain, a drone pad can assist to smooth the ground and guarantee that no dust, snow, dirt, or debris comes into touch with the drone!

There are several drone landing pads available.

A foldable design is ideal since it allows you to pack and travel in any luggage.

Simply throw it down, set up your drone, and let it fly without fretting about damaging your drone before you even manage to get it in the air.


Beware of birds during drone flights

Drones are frequently attacked by birds.

Birds can sometimes attack your drone if you fly in an area where they are breeding, hunting, or defending/protecting their territory.

If you want to ensure the survival of both your precious drone and the bird, pull up as quickly as possible to increase your altitude.

This may appear to be a stupid idea at first, but the unexpected vertical movement indicates that the flying object they are attacking is not a bird.

Switch to Sports mode to unleash your drone’s full speed and land as soon as possible.

person learning how do drones work

Remember to check GPS signal and set RTH

This may be the most important function to master when learning how to fly a drone! The return to home button does exactly what you’d expect.

A simple touch of the button, and your drone will return to you.

The return to home (RTH) function is essential in an emergency, but keep in mind that it can only record the Home Point when the GPS signal is strong.

When you start your drone, make sure you’re connected to at least 8 satellites in order to properly set your RTH.

Insider tip – This feature will come in handy if you suddenly lose video feed, lose sight of the drone, or run out of battery power.

Bonus tip: Setting the RTH altitude to at least 50m will ensure that your drone does not collide with any buildings or obstacles on its way back!


Drone video and photography tips

As with any other form of photography, learning different techniques will help you to get the best drone shots with your new drone.

This tip also applies to drone videography.

If you haven’t already invested in learning basic photography practices, such as the rule of thirds and leading lines, then check out one of the top two online photography courses which will teach you vital skills needed to progress your skills.

Here are a few essential drone photography & video tips to get you started:

  • Research local locations – Some of the top DJI users recommend while learning how to fly your drone to stay close to home and perfect your skills before venturing further afield.
  • Get inspiration from others – social media is both a content creator’s best friend and their worst enemy. However, when used correctly, it can inspire you to push the boundaries of your drone photography and videography.
  • Experiment – the iconic drone shot is typically shot directly down from a bird’s eye view. This technique undeniably creates epic images. However, drones also give you the ability to shoot subjects at all different kinds of angles. Don’t be afraid to experiment.F
  • Consider your compositions – Sometimes the simplest compositions produce the best results. However, it is also worthwhile to look for unusual patterns and try to create depth in your drone photography and video content.
  • Use light – Many would argue that you should only shoot during golden hour because it is guaranteed to improve your work. However, although that is a good tip, all sources of light can enhance and improve your drone photography and video footage; you just need to know how to use it to your advantage. Practise!
  • Don’t forget to edit! All photographers and videographers edit their shots. Take a look at these top photo editing softwares!
drone video tips photo of road covered with sand

Final thoughts

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand how a drone works, whether that be your new DJI or similar brand, and provided you with some useful knowledge on how to fly your new drone. 

You should have the knowledge you need to start taking beautiful photography and video footage with these practical and helpful tips for beginners flying drones. 

Who knows, maybe you’ll even enter the Drone Photo Awards!

Remember out of all of these drone tips for beginners, the most important is to follow the fundamental principles of drone flying to ensure a safe first flight! 

Above all, have fun and appreciate the fresh perspective that a drone provides.

If you’re still looking for some more learning material give a beginner photography book a go!

Happy shooting!

DISCLOSURE: I may earn a small commission from some of the links above. For the benefit of the doubt, please assume all links might be affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

people having fun on the beach from above

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