Progressive photographers from all corners of the globe are taking the world by storm with their impressive drone photographs. Even though photography was invented at the beginning of the 19th century, aerial photos gained popularity only when drones became available on the consumer market.
The first do-it-yourself drones were crafted by enthusiasts at the beginning of the new millennium. But at the beginning of the early 2000s only a few people had and what's more important were able to handle a drone. Luckily for us, all technologies become cheaper and more accessible over time. Gradually it happened with the drones as well. What was mind-boggling and inaccessible, became a widespread phenomenon during just a few past years. What was mostly limited to military and engineering enthusiasts turned into a trend. Modern stores offer high-quality drones which are comparatively cheap, can create quality photo and video content and are easy to fly. It led to a real explosion in aerial photography which produced thousands of remarkable photos which we've never seen before.
Now the number of social networks like Dronestagram is increasing, the quality of drone photos gets higher every year, the creativity of artists grows, technology gets smarter and drones get more sophisticated. Every year drone photography contests are receiving tens of thousands of entries. What a time to be alive for a photographer!
In this article, we will take a look at some of the most stunning examples of drone photography from different categories. The winners of contests, the hidden gems missed by the critics, the awe-inspiring shots taken in the places which are now forbidden to shot from drones - you are bound to find all of it here to satisfy your antithetical lust.
20 Piton De La Fournaise Volcano, Reunion Island
What an impressive shot it is! Taken above the Piton De La Fournaise volcano in the eastern side of Reunion island, it shows us why drone photography is so exceptional. Only with a drone, you can take a shot of an erupting volcano while taking care of your own safety.
Speaking about Piton De La Fournaise, it's one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Its latest eruption occurred in July 2017 and its impressive activity makes it a spectacular target for drone photographers.
Maybe someday engineers will come up with lava-proof cases so that drones can take upfront photos of volcanoes. Imagine what amazing photos we will be able to see then!
19 Basilica Of Saint Francis Of Assisi, Italy
Fog and mist are the elements which make drone photography even more breathtaking. This is why we have 4 foggy themed photographs on the list. The first one is Basilica Of Saint Francis Of Assisi in Umbria, Italy. This photo was taken during sunrise which makes colors and the general feeling of the photo both soft and luring.
Assisi is considered a holy city for Christians. It is also a famous destination for pilgrims, who want to see the places where Saint Francis spent most of his life. This basilica, including many of the surrounding territories, was included in the list of UNESCO Heritage Sites in 2000.
18 Transylvania, Romania
Transylvania is mostly known for a blood-chilling Dracula legend and is associated with dark Middle Age castles and vampires. However, this is just an image created by Bram Stoker's Dracula novel. In fact, Transylvania is known for its rich history, natural marvels and magnificent views. The scenery of Carpathian landscapes mesmerizes and it makes no difference in which season you decide to see it.
The winter will give you white landscapes with frosty air and foggy sunrises, spring will show you the beauty of nature's rebirth, summer will impress you with lush greenery and melodic bird's poetry, and autumn will immerse you into the rave of colors which you will never forget.
17 Big Buddha, Japan
No tour to the Big Buddha statue in Ushiku, Japan will offer you a view like this, because this perspective opens only to the drone's eye. Actually, you can take an elevator ride that can bring you 85 meters up to the observation floor, but even there you won't be able to get such a splendid view that you see in this photo.
This statue was built to commemorate the birth of Shinran, co-founder of 'True Pure Land School' in Buddhism. It's 120 meters tall which makes it one of the top three tallest statues in the world. In fact, it held the record for world's tallest statue from 1993 to 2002, but after the construction of Spring Temple Buddha in China and Laykyun Setkyar in Myanmar, it was moved to the third position.
16 Green Waves, Italy
This photo is one of the winners of world's best drone photography awards. It was sent to the SkyPixel platform contest for the best drone shoots in 2016 and it competed with 27,000 other entries. No wonder that this photo taken by Mauro Pagliai was considered one of the best drone photos of 2016.
It gives the otherworldly feeling that only 1 in a 1000 photographs resemble. By taking a first look at it, it seems that you're actually gazing in the phantasmagorical sea with green waves with only one island of stone which courageously withstands the power of elements. Awe.
15 Laguna Beach, California, United States
The heavenly place that you see in this drone photo is one of the Laguna Beach's secret polls. Located in California, United States, this beach is bound to become one of your favorite beaches in case you have a chance to visit it.
The most impressive view that you can get on this secret pool is actually from above, and we should be thankful to the smart author of this drone photo for giving us an opportunity to look at this spot from such a beautiful perspective.
The girl on the photo surely enjoys her time. I bet you're dreaming about being in her place right now!
14 Cable Beach, Australia
Another surreal shot comes from Todd Kennedy who captured the camel caravan ride on Cable Beach in Western Australia. He made this photo during his honeymoon in the evening when the sun was setting, which made this photo even more stunning adding the excellent angle to camel's shadows. It looks almost like a watercolor painting, isn't it?
Speaking about the Cable Beach, where this drone photo was taken, it should be mentioned that it's one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. About 22 kilometers (14 miles) of perfect white sand is surely an excellent place to take otherworldly drone shots.
13 Meteora, Greece
This place itself is stunning, so it's no wonder that drone photos which capture its beauty are stunning as well. Meteora, Greece is famous for hosting one of the largest complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in the world. The most impressive thing about it is that these monasteries are located on the rocks, like the one that you're seeing in this drone photo.
These monasteries were built in the Middle Ages and there were 24 of them in the past. Unfortunately, only six monasteries made it to our times, but we're still lucky to be able to witness their beauty.
This photo was taken by Elia Locardi and you can check his other works at Blame the Monkey.
12 Imperial County, California, United States
Nature and architecture become the heroes of drone photography more often than people, but it would be impossible to realize the scenario of this photo without a mysterious woman in red standing in the middle of nowhere.
Dirk Dallas is a renown drone photographer who made many impressive shots. I chose this one because it boggles imagination and reflects our life in a way. All of us are standing in a horizonless vastness of existence and the whole universe is waiting for our next steps. What direction will we take, what doors will we open? Myriads of opportunities, but only one life to live.
11 Sagrat Cor Church, Spain
For me, this is one of the most impressive photos on the list, because it instantly gives the chills. This shot of Sagrat Cor Church, high on a hill above Barcelona, was taken by Amos Chapple, a drone photographer who bought a drone once they came onto the consumer market. Back in these times, there were no regulations to drones flying around, which allowed Amos to take dozens of photographs of famous landmarks before it was made illegal.
"There was a window of about 18 months where it was possible to fly these things anywhere and people were excited to see it. I'm glad I made use of that time," Chapple once told in an interview to Business Insider.
Thankfully to Amos, we can now enjoy many drone photos which are now impossible to make. You can see more of these stunning photos here.
10 Sinaia, Romania
I've already mentioned Transylvania region in Romania for its impressive scenery which is different every season and this shot makes me want to draw your attention to Romania once again.
But with this photo it's not about the country, but about the drone shot itself, which was made with a millisecond precision. Because of this unprecedented accuracy and perfect symmetry, this photo looks more like a painting. But it's a real place and a real moment in life which proves us once again that being in the right time and in the right place can sometimes make you witness miracles.
9 San Juan County, New Mexico, United States
I think some people can mix this photo up with the latest shots from Mars. The only thing which signals that it can't be Mars is the blue sky. The red planet has red sky and on this aerial shot, the sky is blue.
The beauty captured on this drone masterpiece is fog surrounding the Shiprock in New Mexico. This rock boldly rising 482 meters above the desert plain is situated a little more than 17 kilometers from the town of Shiprock, named in honor of the peak. It plays a significant role in the Navajo religion, tradition, and myths and it's the most outstanding landmark in northwestern New Mexico.
8 Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Another impressive drone photo which has a breathtaking effect thankfully to heavy fog. Here you can see the majestic city of Dubai immersed in fog with only Burj Khalifa peak (an 828-meter high sky-scrapper, which makes it the highest building in the world) sticking out of the mist.
While you can find many stunning drone photos of Dubai, I've picked this one because it perfectly blends the majesty of nature (represented by mist and clear skies) and the creative genius of mankind (represented by the sky-scrapper). I wish these two could co-exist harmoniously more often then they do right now.
7 Xinjiang, China
Another winner of the SkyPixel drone photography competition from 2016. The contest was opened for both amateurs and professional photographers and this photo was awarded to Hanbing Wang in the 'Professional Beauty' category.
See how color and light change everything? Just like with Todd Kennedy's Cable Beach photo, this shot also features sand, camels, and line in the sand. But what a difference in perception the color, light, and texture of sand make. While Todd's photo creates an impression of a heavenly abode, this shot creates a feeling of a classic sultry desert. Both photos are excellent in their own way.
6 Riga, Lithuania
The last fog-related drone photo on the list is this aerial shot of Riga, the capital of Lithuania. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to take photos and the author of this shot certainly took advantage of this knowledge.
Taken at sunrise, while the city is only waking up and gets ready to face a new day, this photo reflects the majesty of cities created by man on the one hand and the new beginning and hope on the other hand. Sunrise and fog remind us that we're only a part of nature, not its masters and the grandeur of the city shows us that we're capable of achieving anything if we apply the right effort and understanding.
A very symbolic shot.
5 Los Angeles, California, United States
One of the greatest advantages of drone photography is that it gives us the opportunity to capture the beauty of nature in a new way. Whether we're talking about mountains, oceans or seas, drones show us the magnificence of nature in an unprecedented manner.
Speaking about the seas, one of the most impressive sea-related drone shots were created by Emily Kaszton on various beaches of California. The colors are rich and tasty, the sea is so alive and welcoming and the people on her photos (if any) are up for adventures or just enjoying the power and beauty of the water element.
Emily's talent can surely provide us with a fresh and unique perspective on drone photography. For this reason, I strongly advise you to take a look at other Emily's works here.
4 Mérida, Mexico
We need more photos like this! This curious giraffe sincerely wants to know, "What is this thing flying above my head and making noise?" I bet before drones became widespread, most of the people looked like this giraffe baffled by a strange flying object.
In fact, capturing animals with drones is a great idea. It's even strange that you see photos with animals in the list of award-winning drone shots so rarely, compared to photos of cities, architecture, and nature.
I believe drone photography can capture both funny shots, like this giraffe, or some daily routine of animals which is difficult to look after with other technical means.
3 Lost Island, French Polynesia
There should be at least one tropical paradise photo on the list, and it will be the photo of the Lost Island in French Polynesia. While there are so many tropical islands and places where you can take a perfect drone shot, you rarely get a perfect balance that this photo has.
Evergreen palms, welcoming sea, fairy-tale like skies and even a rainbow. The white boat and a group of people sitting on the shore only add to the relaxing vibe that this photo already has.
The fleeting rainbow, ever-changing skies and silent sea which can easily become whimsical, remind us that we should enjoy the beauty of the moment while it lasts.
2 Mekong Delta, Vietnam
A woman harvesting water lilies in a pond in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam closes the list of 20 awe-inspiring drone shots. No wonder that it caused a furor among the users of world's largest drone photography social network - Dronestagram. The scenario and the combination of colors on this photo is just staggering.
I wonder if the woman had noticed that she was being photographed while harvesting the water lilies. No matter the answer, we should be thankful to her for being a part of such a stellar shot.
And looking at the incredible beauty of shots, impressive dexterity and level of artistic precision of photographers, we should also be thankful the world for giving us the art of drone photography.
1 Lotus Temple, India
The number of temples in India is staggering. With more than two million only Hindu temples, this country boasts with its multi-religiosity and the level of tolerance between different religions seldom seen elsewhere in the world.
The temple that you see in the drone photo is not a Hindu temple though. It's called the Lotus Temple because it resembles the lotus. It's located in New Delhi and it's the most impressive Bahai Religion house of worship. This religion was introduced in the 19th century and it teaches the unity and equality of all people and the essential worth of all religions.
At the beginning of this century, Lotus Tempe became the most visited religious building in the world. However, now it's not that overcrowded. Especially if you go there on a weekday in the morning.