Drone costs have dropped substantially over the past few years, and during this span, we have seen the technology increase exponentially. While early designs were more of a backyard novelty (and often a nuisance) than anything else, the latest drone models are loaded with advanced cameras and stabilization technology that allows for more practical uses. Designed with extended operational range, long gone are the days of simply buzzing — and often caroming — about the backyard or neighborhood. The best drone photos can attest to this.
As the demand for drones has increased so too has the market, as manufacturers look to cater to each specific industry niche. While pint-sized quadcopters are well-suited for navigating narrow indoor environments, there are hundreds of more powerful brutes on the market designed to handle the gustier conditions often involved with aerial photography. (We should know — we have tested dozens of drones over the years and curated a comprehensive roundup of our favorites.)
If you are new to aerial drone photography or you are looking to pick up the hobby you may want to check out our tips, tricks, and beginner’s guide to the hobby.
Needless to say, these enhancements and the general pivot toward drone-based, aerial imaging is changing the field of photography and even the photojournalism game as we know it. Just to illustrate this burgeoning photography market, SkyPixel, an aerial photography community run together with drone manufacturer DJI, received more than 27,000 photo submissions from 131 countries during its 2016 annual photography contest.
We have included some of these winners as well as choice selections from sites like Dronestagram — imagine an Instagram account entirely dedicated to aerial drone photography — among others. From awe-inspiring views of World Heritage Sites and tantalizing up-close glimpses of lava-spewing volcanoes, to sights of the shifting sands along the Arabian Desert, here are 37 of our favorite drone photos from around the globe.
If you enjoy this photo gallery you may also want to check out our favorite space photos. Both of these galleries are updated weekly, so be sure to tune in regularly for the latest breathtaking snapshots from our world and beyond.