With drone photography, the sky isn’t the limit; it’s the destination.
We try to capture the perfect photograph in many ways: lying on the ground, using a selfie stick, leaning dangerously over an edge or simply moving one step to the left or right to block the sun. While smartphones make it very easy to snap and go, drones are changing the photographic landscape in a huge way. Drone photography opens a photographer’s scope to views that only a short time ago seemed unimaginable.
USS Detroit with the GM Renaissance Center in the background. Detroit, Michigan, USA. Photo by Alex Boge. Drone: DJI Phantom 4, aka “Casper.”
Have you ever wondered what your city looks like from above? With drone photography, cities come to life from unexpected angles and with fantastic results.
Drone Mora has been a professional photographer for five years, but it wasn’t until a year ago that he started using a drone for aerial shots. He largely focuses on cityscapes in his native Brazil to capture “something we don’t look [at] every day.”
Higienopolis neighborhood, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo by Drone Mora. Drone: DJI Phantom 3 Advanced.
Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Gavin Pickford. Drone: DJI Phantom 2 with GoPro Hero4.
Northern California–based photographer Bryan Stapleton is fortunate: a California sunset is always memorable. In Half Moon Bay, he used the HDR feature on his DJI Phantom 4 drone to take multiple photos — overexposed, exposed and underexposed. He then layered them to capture all the colors possible from the sunset, and the result is stunning.
Half Moon Bay, California, USA. Photo by Bryan Stapleton, Stapleton Photo. Drone: DJI Phantom 4.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Photo by Mavic Zone.
Gamcheon Culture Village, Busan, South Korea. Photo by Edward Rivera, Aerial Aspects.
A Bird’s-Eye View of the Natural World
Barock Garden, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Photo by Philipp Piji (@fluentwater). Drone: Yuneec Typhoon Q500Plus.
Ah, to be a bird, flying high above the trees, mountains and countryside. Humans may not be able to fly (quite yet), but with a drone you can see the natural world from a whole new viewpoint.
Kalapana Lava Flow, Hawaii, USA. Photo by Jordan Lerma | Uheheu.
Tower Butte, Padre Bay, Lake Powell, Arizona, USA. Photo by Lake Powell Droner.
In Sterling Heights, Missouri, photographer Alex Boge and Casper (his DJI Phantom 4 drone) captured the following stunning shot using a three-photo burst and Photomatix Pro to create an HDR version of the image, no additional saturation or color enhancement needed.
“It was just the right time of day and the right day!” Boge explained.
Sterling Heights, Missouri, USA. Photo by Alex Boge. Drone: DJI Phantom 4.
Tegalalang Rice Terrace, Ubud, Bali. Photo by SnapAir.
RoozenGaarde, Mt. Vernon, Washington, USA. Photo by Xander DePascale.
I75 & US27 Weston, Florida, USA. Photo by Ignacio Perez-Navarro.
As we drive vehicles across miles of highway, city streets or even off road, we never think about what our infrastructure looks like from above. After seeing the following images, you’ll never sit in traffic the same way again.
Royal City, Washington, USA. Photo by Xander DePascale.
Louisville, Kentucky, USA. Photo by Larry Vinson (Kentucky Skywalker). Drone: DJI Phantom 4.
While in Dubai, UAE, photographer Irenaeus Herok knew that sandstorms were common year-round and had previously seen the wandering sands phenomenon while traveling in the Middle East. In order to find a road that had not been cleared of sand, he had to venture outside the city.
“It was just a matter of scouting a couple of locations to find the road that suited my aesthetics,” he said. “I was lucky to find this long and empty road without any buildings and structures too close by for my shot.”
Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photo by Irenaeus Herok.
Montrose Beach, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Photo by Simeon Pratt.
Abandoned radio-control race track, Pico do Jaragua neighborhood, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo by Drone Mora. Drone: DJI Phantom 3 Advanced.
Wailua Falls, Kauai, Hawaii, USA. Photo by Jordan Lerma | Uheheu.
Dominican Republic. Photo by Mavic Zone.
Bodies of water affect everyone differently, but there appears to be a large consensus that they are the most serene, intoxicating places you can visit. The next time you want to escape, pull up one of these images.
Lake McKenzie, Fraser Island, Australia. Photo by SnapAir.
In order to catch this perfectly coordinated shot, photographer Marina Vernicos planned ahead.
“Before I go out with my drone, I usually scan the area to see what I like and what is worth seeing from above [using] Google Maps, [or] by car or boat,” she explained. “The port of Porto Heli is one of the most protected bays in Greece. For my picture ‘Summer Snowflake,’ I waited for August in order for it to be full of boats. Depending on the wind, all the boats float the same way since they are all anchored. For that particular shot, I was on a boat.”
“Summer Snowflake,” Porto Heli, Greece. Photo by Marina Vernicos.
Poipu, Hawaii, USA. Photo by Jordan Lerma | Uheheu.
Pelican Hill, Newport Coast, California, USA. Photo by Brian Perry.
It may be time to think outside the box when it comes to wedding photography by adding a drone to the mix. According to Southern California–based photographer Brian Perry, nearly 80% of his wedding clients in 2016 added a drone to their photo package.
A drone captures memorable wedding shots, like the one above, which Perry took from Pelican Hill, Newport Coast, California — and it was completely unplanned.
“In this particular case, I couldn’t deny the beauty of the setup and simply switched from video mode to photo mode,” he said. “I already had my settings dialed in, so it was no trouble off my back to snap a few photos.”
Drone photography at weddings is not without its limitations, primarily regulations set by locations and “no-fly zones.”
When a drone is allowed, Perry knows it’s worth it.
“The aerial perspective adds that layer of visual eye candy that is unmatched. We have had a handful of clients this year take the aerial photos we’ve snapped and hang them on their wall at home with a large canvas. That means a lot. Means that we did our job and that perspective is embedded in their memories and life experience forever,” he said, playfully noting that he’s a sap for this stuff.
For those who want to have some fun with the global trend “Trash the Dress,” where a bride decides to ruin her wedding gown in order to capture a striking photo, drone photography can make it all the more exciting.
These two images by Venezuelan photographer Felipe Figueroa demonstrate as much, and show that even grooms are getting in on the action.
Morrocoy National Park, Venezuela. Photo by Felipe Figueroa.
Chichiriviche de la Cosa, Venezuela. Photo by Felipe Figueroa.
Honey, I Shrunk People!
Walanapanapa Black Sand Beach, Maui, Hawaii, USA. Photo by Seascaping.
Just how high a drone can fly equates to photographs of just how small people can look from above. Consider Constantin Stanislavski’s famous saying: “There are no small parts, only small actors.” For drone photographers, the actors are small — on purpose — and the stage massive.
Huntington Beach, California, USA. Photo by Dirk Dallas, From Where I Drone. Drone: DJI Phantom 4.
Santa Monica, California, USA. Photo by Lane Stith. Drone: DJI Phantom 3 Pro.
Bimini Shark Lab, Bahamas. Photo by Jack Massuger.
Tamara Beach, Sydney, Australia. Photo by Irenaeus Herok.
Drone Photography Makes Travel More Exciting
Camel caravan. Cable Beach, Australia. Photo by Todd Kennedy.
The easiest way to sell a holiday destination is with a photograph. Beautiful beaches with crystal-clear water, quaint city streets, gorgeous cathedrals and monuments — they all do the trick to get you on an adventure. Drone photography has only enhanced the travel experience and, undeniably, made the idea of visiting a far-flung land more exciting.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, Austria. Photo by Mindaugas Dulinskas.
The three German adventurers that make up Living the Dream cannot imagine traveling without a drone, which they believe has created a revolution in the creative world and will soon be the new standard.
“A drone changes everything; the perspective from the air which is naturally attracting to the human eye because of its unreachable nature,” they explained. “Drones simply have an exceptional production value.”
Algarve, Portugal. Photo by Living The Dream.
The group thinks drones are great for creators, but given that they are difficult to carry, sometimes scary to fly, expensive and require great responsibility, they do not think the average person should be traveling with one.
There’s also the law to consider.
“You should know the law and respect it,” Living the Dream said. “For example, it is forbidden to fly at spiritual sites like Machu Picchu or over the whole of Cuba, which is a shame but must be respected.”
Seokbulsa Temple, Busan, South Korea. Photo by Edward Rivera, Aerial Aspects.
Atlanterhavsveien (The Atlantic Road), Norway. Photo by Simeon Pratt.
Eğribük, Turkey. Photo by Serhat Biçer.
Move Over, Selfie Stick
A review of drone photography would not be complete without highlighting some of the creative ways people are taking selfies with a drone.
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Photo by Patrick Donovan. Drone: DJI Phantom 4.
Labirin Coban Rondo, Pujon, Batu, Malaysia. Photo by Kurakura Film. Drone: DJI Phantom 3 Pro 4K.
Vitosha Mountain near Sofia, Bulgaria. Photo by Dimitar Karanikolov. Drone Model: DJI Phantom 4.
Doesn’t that look fun?