Recently, drones have transformed from government-exclusive tech to everyday tools, completely revolutionizing photography. Their rise in popularity is reshaping perspectives, offering breathtaking aerial shots that were once unthinkable. Despite hefty costs, both pro and amateur photographers embrace these devices—the first drone was launched via kite in 1882—anticipating more advancements in this thrilling pursuit.
Whale Meets Tourists
This gray whale was caught from above as it said hello to some tourists in a small boat. The whale only lightly bumped into the boat, careful not to hurt anyone on board. The whale was probably migrating when it ran into its new friends. Gray whales typically swim thousands of miles every year.
A Polar Express
Nothing signifies winter or the holiday season like a train ride through some snowy landscapes. This red train is known as the Glacier Express. Its journey through the Alps and Swiss countryside has been called "the most scenic train ride in the world." The Glacier Express began its famous route all the way back in 1930.
Urban Lightning Strike
This perfectly-timed drone photo shows a bright and powerful lightning strike over the city of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur is one of the fastest-growing cities in Asia, with a population of nearly 2 million people. The two unique-looking towers on the left are the Petronas Twin Towers, which until 2004 were the tallest buildings in the world.
From the ground, you might be forgiven for not appreciating the design of these apartment buildings that help provide affordable living in New York City. As one of the most expensive cities in the world, New York has made efforts over the years to ramp up its construction of affordable housing. These projects likely date back to sometime between 1945 and 1965.
Flamingos in Flight
Drones have revolutionized wildlife photography. In the past, helicopters either scared off many animals or had to keep a safe distance away from them, making the shot far less impressive. Now that relatively quit drones can blend in with nature, shots like this one of a flock of flamingos in flight are not only possible, but gorgeous to behold.
Giant Birds Nest
You don't see something like this every day. A giant birds nest situated on an electrical pole was captured by a drone at the perfect angle, allowing us to get a better sense of how large it really is. Although quite large, this nest isn't the biggest ever found. That honor belongs to the nest of a bald eagle in Florida, which weighed in at nearly three tons.
One Giant Pink Bunny
Imagine piloting a drone across some farmland to see what's around and you stumble upon this: a gigantic pink bunny rabbit, with a seemingly alarmed expression frozen on its massive bunny face. This rabbit lives on a mountain in Artesina, Italy. It's 200 feet long and 20 feet high. Sadly, the bunny has decomposed, so this image is all that remains of its magical time on our planet.
Shark Swims Near a Man
Sometimes drones might reveal things we'd rather not know. We're glad to report that the man in this image is perfectly fine and escaped his shark encounter unharmed. But it's still a little creepy to see this tiger shark so close by. This incident occurred in Miami, Florida. In Florida, there are dozens of shark attacks every year but very few of them are fatal.
This camel nearly blends in with its sandy desert surroundings. It might even go undetected from above if not for its large and distinct shadow. Despite living in sometimes excruciating heat, camels are usually not bothered by the warm weather. They have thick pads of skin covering their chest and knees, with allows them to sit back and relax in hot sand.
Hockey Game in the Middle of Nowhere
This hockey rink in rural Russia was built by the hockey players themselves. Ice hockey is one the country's most popular sports. Back when it was known as the Soviet Union, Russian hockey players dominated the world championship and Olympics for decades. Today, the International Ice Hockey Federation has suspended Russia from all levels of competition due to the country's invasion of Ukraine.
Whole Lotta Hippos
This incredible shot of hippos bathing in Tanzania is probably best taken by a drone and not a human. Unfortunately, hippos kill hundreds of people per year, especially in Africa. When not tangling with risk-loving humans, hippos spend most of their time in water so that they can stay cool. Their eyes, nose, and ears are all located on top of their head, allowing them to breathe and stay alert while also staying submerged in cool waters.
This beautiful field of tulips is located in the province of Flevoland in the Netherlands. The Dutch are known for their incredible tulips. During the Dutch Golden Age, from 1588 until 1672, there was a sensation known as tulip mania. Beautiful tulips were so desired that their prices began to hit astronomical heights, until the fad collapsed. Today, tulip mania is considered the first speculative bubble in recorded history.
A Soccer Field in Norway
This aerial image of a soccer field was taken in Lofoten, Norway. Lofoten is an archipelago known for its dramatic scenery. The location has served as inspiration for stories written by literary luminaries such as Edgar Allan Poe and Jules Verne. Lofoten attracts an estimated one million visitors every year.
Nothing evokes those autumn vibes quite like fall foliage. This image overhead angle gives the viewer a sense of how all these multi-colored leaves form something like a flower bouquet across hills and mountains. The best fall foliage occurs after warm summer days are followed by cold, above freezing temperatures.
This colorful image of a lobster farm was taken in the Hon Yen coastal area in the Phu Yen Province of Vietnam. Vietnam has become known for its spiny lobsters, which are a valuable seafood item throughout the world. There are tens of thousands of lobster cages throughout Vietnam, and the country's spiny lobster industry earns around $100 million per year.
These Koi fish are certainly not coy when a drone camera comes around. The colorful fish pictured here live on a farm in Oxfordshire, England. Koi fish originated in early 19th century Japan. In Japanese culture, Koi fish are associated with prosperity and good fortune. There are more than 100 varieties of Koi, at least a few of which are seen here.
It's an island in the shape of a bird that's filled with birds. So it's no surprise that it's known as Bird Island. This Australian island is home to over 20 different species of birds. Considering the island was formed around 6,000 years ago, it's likely that all of these species of birds have been visiting their favorite island for a very long time.
A Sea of Flamingos
This massive flock of flamingos is gathered at Lake Logipi in Kenya’s Suguta Valley. Flamingos love the salt water's abundant supply of plankton, which they feast upon in mass quantities. In fact, it's the flamingo's hunger that gives it its pink coloring. When flamingos eat brine shrimp and algae, the bird's body digests pigments that turns its feathers pink.
Lone Polar Bear
This image of a polar bear crossing the ice serves as a potent reminder of how polar bears are being forced to adapt to their changing environments. Because these animals use ice for hunting, breeding, and resting, they don't have much energy left over to cross from one block of ice to another, thus decreasing their odds of survival.
It's hard for us humans to spot heron nests way up in the trees, but thanks to drones we can finally get a good glimpse of these heron homes. These nests are typically made from a combination of large twigs, moss, leaves, and grass. Herons are remarkable birds, able to survive in almost any kind of calm fresh waters, rivers, or shallow coastal bays.
Turkish rugs are highly regarded all over the world, and have been for many years. Part of what makes these beautiful carpets so attractive is that they are often arranged across a field outside to soak up some sunshine. The sun helps to enhance the rugs' colors, making them even more colorful than before. In this image, you can even spot a couple rug-makers taking a break on some of their creations.
Water Lily Season
This shot captures a beautiful moment during water lily season in Mekong, Vietnam. Aside from being home to water lilies, Mekong is also considered a "biological treasure trove." New species of lizards, plants, and fish have been discovered there as recently as 2007. Other animals thought to be extinct, like the Laotian rock rat, were also discovered in the area.
A Shark Among Fish
This striking and somewhat sinister image of a blacktip shark swimming amongst hundreds of fish was taken near the Abacos islands in the Bahamas. These fish are smart to steer clear of the blacktip. Blacktip sharks are fast, dangerous hunters that sometimes make "spinning leaps" out of the water when trying to chomp on some fish.
This herd of buffalo is in pursuit of a resting place, and a bright rainbow in the sky above them seems to suggest they've found safe haven. Buffalo only sleep for one hour each day, and they must always be relatively close to a water source since they require drinking water every day. As long as they are in their herd, buffalo are usually safe from predators, but a long buffalo is vulnerable to lion attacks.
This impressive image of the Lotus Temple located in Delhi, India seems to speak to the site's spiritual significance. The temple has won numerous awards for its design and is open to people of all faiths. The site is visited by an estimated 2.5 million to 5 million travelers every year. Since its opening, the temple is believed to have attracted more than 100 million visitors.
Lion in a Tree
This lion looks like it might be about to swat at the drone that photographed it, like a house cat playing with a toy. These African lions (this one lives in Uganda) are unique in that they enjoy resting up in trees. Maybe this lion is keeping an eye on the skies. Lions love hunting during storms, when wind and rain distract their prey and make hunting easier.
These otherworldly mountains in China's Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park are completely natural and considered a geological marvel. Although it might look like an artist has spent a lot of time painting rocks, in reality the colors are the result of iron and mineral deposits in cretaceous siltstones and sandstones.
Soccer Stadium in Greece
This overhead view of a wild and colorful soccer celebration (or, football as it's known in most of the world) was taken at the Toumba Stadium in Thessaloniki, Greece. This stadium has hosted the Greece national football team several times. Officials are currently attempting to build a new stadium, which is expected to complete construction by 2026.
This incredible drone shot of Holi festival attendees in India shows the participants tossing colored powders at each other. During Holi, these colored powders are also smeared on people's faces. The festival celebrates the gods Radha and Krishna, and signifies good's victory over evil. In addition to all the colors, festival participants enjoy delicacies, deserts, and drinks. They also visit with close friends and family.
Assisi Over the Clouds
Perhaps it's no mistake that this Italian town with religious significance appears to be in some heavenly location above the clouds. Assisi is located in Italy's Umbria region, and is best known for being the birthplace of St. Francis. St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most venerated figures in Christianity. He founded the Franciscans, and believed that there was deep spiritual significance to be found in nature.
This natural limestone monolith located in western Georgia looks especially impressive from a drone's perspective. Called the Katskhi pillar, this formation has the ruins of a Christian church located on top of it. Inside this church are a crypt, wine cellar, and three rooms for hermits. There are many local legends about the history of this pillar, but how exactly it was ascended back in the 10th century remains a bit of a mystery.
The drone photographer who captured this image of the active Kilauea volcano in Hawaii went to some extraordinary lengths to get it. Xiaoxiao Liu walked for forty miles just to find the perfect angle from which to capture the volcanic activity. The resulting photograph, although perhaps a bit dangerous to achieve, is definitely worth the photographer's mighty efforts.
South African Warehouse Fire
This aerial view captures the devastation of the Transnet warehouse fure in Rossburgh, Durban, South Africa. The railway company seemed to be lacking some safety precautions prior to this blaze. Eventually the fire was brought under control but it took 13 fire engines and more than 150 firefighters to do it.
This photo continues to prove that drones have revolutionized wildlife and nature photography, producing images never before possible. This one captures four zebras on the African plains, dramatically accentuated by their long shadows. Although zebra stripes tend to look quite similar, in fact, all of them are unique to each individual zebra, much like human fingerprints.
Whale Mom and Calf
Humpback whales are incredible, massive creatures. But even so, a baby animal is always adorable even if it weighs a literal ton. This tender moment between a mom and her calf occurred in Kona, Hawaii. Humpbacks travel great distances, and female humpbacks in particular are remarkably well-traveled. They're also responsible for raising their calfs, as male humpbacks typically have little to do with their offspring.
A Row of Craters
This photo depicts a row of craters in a remote part of Iceland, but you'd be forgiven for thinking it was shot on some other planet. The unique fire-red coloring is caused by the lava's iron minerals. These craters are just a few of the many craters scattered across Iceland. Iceland is one of our planet's most volcanically active areas.
Colored Waters of Spain
This is another photo that looks like it's either Photoshopped or from some distant planet, but the colorful waters here in Spain's Rio Tinto are very real. They are the result of thousands of years of ore mining, which caused acid mine drainage. The chemicals have produced the psychedelic designs you see here, but have also created much environmental damage.
The Garden of Red Sand
The Royal Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne, Australia are home to this remarkable red sand garden. The sand garden is the biggest attraction of the botanic gardens. The gray/green circles seen scattered across the red sand are saltbushes. There are also seasonal wildflowers throughout the garden, which are present in central Australia's deserts.
The lavender fields of Provence, France are well-known throughout the world but before drones came along, they haven't been seen quite like this. This photo of a farmer trimming his lavender field during the flowering months of June, July, and August. During these summer months, thousands of visitors flock to Provence to see the gorgeous purple fields for themselves.
Ko Tao Island in Thailand is seen here in all its resplendent, colorful glory. The lush green trees, sparkling blue water, and white coastal rocks make this an ideal image for instant relaxation. Ko Tao has a population of only 1,400 people and survives mostly off of tourism. Scuba divers in particular love exploring the rich sealife.
Among the more unique fish activities is the salmon circle. Although these large circles of swimming salmon can attract predators like sharks and eagles, it's still relatively safe for these fish to all stay together. Salmon are known for their ability to survive in both salt and fresh water, a characteristic known as anadromous.
Believe it or not, there are still plenty of places in the world where shipwrecks still exist, including off the coast of Moreton Island in Australia. These wrecks are a major tourist attraction, and an especially popular site for snorkelers. Moreton Island has a long history of ship disasters, from an 1848 wreck caused by European explorers to a 2009 oil spill.
This epic shot of Mount Bromo reveals the dramatic landscapes of East Java, Indonesia. Mount Bromo is an active volcano that's part of the Tengger mountains. Although it's not quite visible in this photograph, there is an idol of Ganesha, the Hindu god of wisdom, at the mouth of the crater. The name of the mountain, Bromo, comes from Brahma, the Hindu god of creation.
These rice paddies outside of Ubud, Indonesia look especially impressive from above. Ubud attracts a lot of tourists, with rice paddies being only one of its many attractions. Also in Ubud are kings' tombs, markets, palaces, temples, and lots of monkeys. Rice is a vital part of the Indonesian economy, and the country currently ranks as the third-largest rice producer on the planet.
Sandstones of China
These colorful sandstone mountains located in Gansu, China were formed over 50 million years ago. It's hard to get a sense of the texture and colors of this remarkable natural wonder without having an aerial view. As drone photography has continued to advance, high resolution 4K images have allowed for photographers to capture incredible amounts of detail.
This view of the Lencois Maranhenses National Park in Brazil shows off the stunning rolling sand dunes there. When it rains, freshwater lagoons form in between the dunes. Gazing out across these sandy dunes dotted with green lagoons is quite a sight. Fun fact: two of the Avengers movies used this location to represent the unique landscape of the planet Vormir.
Vietnamese Fishing Boat
This stunning image from Vietnam shows a fishing boat gathering up anchovies. When sprawled out across the water, these nets create some hypnotizing images. Anchovy fishing is the primary source of income for many locals in the Phu Yen province in southern Vietnam. Photos like this one have resulted in many eager onlookers and photographers trying to catch a glimpse of this unique fishing method.
Petronas Twin Towers
The Petronas Twin Towers look like something out of a science fiction film, especially at this unique angle. The towers, located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, were the tallest manmade structures in the world until they were surpassed by the Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taiwan. The towers are host to the offices of a variety of companies, including Bloomberg, Boeing, and IBM.