12 Of The Most Fly Photos Taken By Drones In 2017

These raise the bar.

Not long ago, a contest like this wasn’t even remotely possible.

But, for the fourth year, the winners of the International Drone Photography Contest have been announced, and they prove drones have the best views.

According to Dronestagram, a social network dedicated to aerial photography that created the contest, professional photographers and amateur drone enthusiasts from around the world submitted about 8,000 photos in four different categories — “nature,” “urban,” “people” and creative.

A panel of experts, including the deputy director of photography at National Geographic and the photo editor at National Geographic France, acted as judges.

Here are the winning photos from each category.

Jerome Courtial/Dronestagram
First place: "Summer Trim" by Jerome Courtial, France.
This photo is of a lavender field in Provence, France, being harvested won first prize. "I went to Valensole hoping to get an original picture rather than the classic view with the sunset in the background,” Courtial told Dronestagram. “I knew this was the beginning of the harvest season so I hunted down tractors and waited patiently until some started to harvest in a pattern that would create a pleasing composition from above."
Calin Stan/Dronestagram
Second place, "Infinite Road to Transylvania" by Calin Stan, Romania.
“This is the image of Cheia DN1A road that takes you to Transylvania, here in Romania. Yes, THAT Transylvania,” Stan told the contest. “Or, as the legend says, this is the view that Count Dracula himself saw on his nocturnal flight.”
Florian Ledoux/Dronestagram
Third place, "Ice Formation" by Florian Ledoux, Greenland.
A sea ice formation in east Greenland was the subject of Florian's chilling image.
Martin Sanchez/Dronestagram
First place, "End of the Line" by Martin Sanchez, the United States.
“I noticed an empty tennis court that just stood out like a treasured story in a book of empty words,” Sanchez told the contest. The photo is of people playing on a tennis court in New Jersey.
Second place, "Waterlily" by a user named helios1412,
Dronestagram does not offer much information about this artist or their photo, but it is of a woman harvesting water lilies in a pond in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
Javier Bustamante/Dronestagram
Third place, "La Vijanera" by Javier Bustamante, Spain.
The photo was taken during, La Vijanera, a winter carnival that takes place in the town of Silió in Cantabria, Spain. “This party consists on a group of hunters who want to capture a bear,” Bustamante told the contest. “This photo is the end of the party in which the bear is captured.”
Bachir Moukarzel/Dronestagram
First place, "Concrete Jungle" by Bachir Moukarzel, United Arab Emirates.
The photo was shot at sunset in Dubai. “[The] area, which was a literally a desert 10 years back, and now [is] a concrete jungle with the highest buildings in Dubai,” the photographer said.
Second place, "Dawn On Mercury Tower" by Alexey Goncharov, Russia.
“Sometimes going to work I leave home a little bit earlier and I get my drone with me in order to take a flight. That was the case with the given photo,” Goncharov told the contest. “I was sitting on a bench at the square near Moscow International Business Centre in search of a beautiful reflection in mirror windows of ‘Mercury’ tower. While in the flight, I saw industrial climbers. I liked the way their work looked from that perspective: they seemed to wash the city itself, not just the building's windows.”
Luis Saguar Domingo/Dronestagram
Third place, "Peace" by Luis Saguar Domingo, Spain.
“I was in Madrid looking for a nice place for flying my drone and add it to my Instagram account,” Domingo told the contest. “And I found a good place for taking a picture and when I saw my picture it was really cool and symmetrical.”
“Ugo le marin” by Rga, (the “Creative” category awarded Dronestagram members who had posted drone photos in 2017 on the site)
This photo was taken on a beach. The photographer had the idea to use “the sand as a large sheet of paper.”“So my two sons and I drew a scene related to the sea,” the artist told the contest. “On the image you can see my oldest son.”
“Next Level” by Macareuxprod
This drone photo was taken on a beach, and was meant to be a pregnancy announcement to the photographer and his girlfriend’s families. “I had the idea of this picture : [my girlfriend] and myself creating a baby, represented by an old [stroller] and like a video game.”
Luke Bell/Dronestagram
“Two Moo” by luke Bell
“It was a cold early morning in South Africa on a farm near Stellenbosch,” the photographer told the contest. “Two cows drinking from a nearby dam caught my eye when I saw their long shadows. I launched my drone to capture the scene in a way impossible with any other type of camera.”
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