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Check out these stunning photos from the 2020 Astronomy Photogr



Perhaps more than any other type of photography, astrological photography is just insanely impressive – the degree of patience and control required to get good photos of the night sky, let alone distant stars and planets, is hard to overstate. 

That’s one of the reasons why there are awards dedicated entirely to astronomy photographs each year, and the shortlist has just been released for the biggest gong in this area – the Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2020. 

Nicholas Roemmelt

The Green Lady

This stunning image has it all – aurora borealis dancing in the sky, in a sublime mix of greens and blues, all suspended above an ice-cold lake and the hints of human habitation in the form of that lit-up little town. It’s a bit of a wonder, really. 

Connor Matherne

The Many Jets and Shells of Centaurus A

A jaw-dropping image of the infinite variety of space, with those promintent jets in the centre providing a science-fiction-esque focal point. This looks like something out of Star Wars, no?

Mathew Browne

The Moon And the Shard

The moon hovers ominously behind London’s Shard, all of it lit up perfectly to highlight the building’s consturction in contrast to the marvellou detail captured on the moon’s surface. 

Kristina Makeeva

Iceland

Aptly titled, this photo does an amazing job of balancing the deep, luscious colour of the aurora in the sky against the amazing show it’s projecting into the impossibly clear chunks of ice on the ground. 

Alyn Wallace

Ineffable

This photo takes you behind the curtain, showing a lone photographer taking a picture of an eclipse, and showcasing how remote one must travel to find the best light. 

Ruslan Ilnitsky

Sunspots AR 2741 and AR 2740

The sun’s surface is a bit of a mystery to most of us layfolk, but all know that sunspots exist – here’s an impressive image capturing just two of them, neither hintint at the enormous energy that their appearance actually entails. 

Stefan Liebermann

Desert Magic

A desesrt scene that’s beautifully lit by the smorgasbord of light and stars in the sky above, an entire constellation and galaxy suspended beautifully. 

Kamil Nureev

Dance Over the Swamp

We don’t often think of the Northern Lights as occurring over swamps, but here it is nonetheless, and that placid reflection is the key to this photo’s stellar success. 

Marcin Zajac

Galactic Portal

Once again, here the contrast between land and sky is the key, with the amazing purples and pinks of the night lighting up the frame beautifully, viewed from within a cluster of rocks framing the action. 

Thomas Kast

Painting the Sky

That astonishing selection of colours, lighting up the sky in ways that most of us will never live to see in person, makes for an amazing tableau. We think this picture is named perfectly. 

Stacey Downton

Jupiter Rising

It’s no mean feat to capture the surface of a planet like Jupiter in this way, from such a distance, but this image gives you a great sense of the roiling chaos that its surface would actually be.

Ethan Roberts

Moonshot

This great shot is a miracle of timing, with a wisp of cloud passing before the moon and causing this otherworldly effect – it’s like something out a giallo horror film, and we love it. 

Nguyễn Hoàng Linh

Graded

This amazing timelapse over some paddies is a beautiful reminder of how time’s passing is inevitable, and we particularly love how the exposure concentrates the lights of human dwellings in the frame’s centre. 

Jen Rogers

Milky Way and meteor at Porthgwarra

The boat in the image is a perfect focal point, bridging the two near-symmetrical sides of the composition and drawing the viewer out. We can’t be the only ones who’d love to hop in for a journey, right?

Kirk Paton

Trixy

The photographer’s dog Trixy is the star of the show here, artfully silhouetted in front of a bright and huge moon, the focal length making it seem almost impossibly large. It’s a delightful, fun composition. 

Writing by Max Freeman-Mills. Editing by Dan Grabham.





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Stunning Ansel Adams photographs in all the



Go to many national parks in the US, stunning natural reserves where wildlife is left relatively to itself, and where stunning scenery lies around almost every corner and twist, and you’ll be likely to find some similar things.

There are old-school wooden lodges, camping grounds and trails to follow, and, oftentimes, whether posted up on message boards by trails, framed in lodge dining rooms or on postcards in the visitor centre’s shop, you’re likely to see photos by Ansel Adams. The legendary photographer travelled to many parks, taking photographs that are famous for their scale and beauty.

The US National Archives house many of his photographs, from a variety of national parks, and we’ve gathered some stunning highlights right here for your viewing pleasure. 

US National Archive

Reflective

This shot of Acoma Pueblo, in New Mexico, nearly radiates heat, the white-out blanch of the low buildings reflecting the sun’s glare. That pool of still water in the foreground creates a mirror for the world which palely shows the building again, and we love the light palette of the photo overall.

US National Archive

Going to church

From another angle, this structure in Acoma Pueblo makes the settlement look more impressive and structured, with that church in the back left of the frame actually looking borderline grand, with its two towers, even despite a lack of ornamentation. 

US National Archive

Rough exterior

From another angle, though, you can see the dilapidation striking in the background, with mortar falling away to show crumbling bricks below. It’s a reminder of how structures from the West weren’t necessarily built to last into the mid-20th Century. 

US National Archive

Damn, that’s big

Later in his career, in 1941, Adams took a set of pictures of the Boulder Dam, otherwise known as the Hoover Dam, a huge structure on the Colorado River, and we think they make interesting viewing for how Adams applies a landscape photographer’s eye to a huge manmade construction like this. 

US National Archive

Power

Adams might be associated with landscape and natural photography, but he was living through a time of rapid technological change and the spread of industrial processes, and this photo of a power unit at the Hoover Dam shows he didn’t just ignore this – it’s a beguiling lattice of wires and coils. 

US National Archive

A new landscape

Meanwhile, power lines were spreading over the landscapes he would have photographed, as so many hikers know nowadays. Still, this photograph shows that with his expertise and camera skills he could perfectly expose a photo to make the power lines an equal and interesting part of the composition. 

US National Archive

A sliding scale

This portrait shot of the dam gives a great sense for how huge it was (and remains) – standing on top of it can be a vertigo-inducing experience even in modern times, so must have been even more impactful back in the 40s when this shot was taken. 

US National Archive

Lean out

Here, again, Adams shows his eye by using the power line in the foreground to draw your eye back to the dam and then beyond it, to the rolling mountains and hills on the horizon, each fainter than the last as you head into the distance. 

US National Archive

Trademark

This image is textbook Adams, its dark, moody exposure creating a stunning tableau and the banded rock of this Arizona canyon lit up to differing degrees by the sun peeking through clouds. It’s a superb piece that’s up there with his most famous images in terms of quality. 

US National Archive

Death Valley

Death Valley national park is one of those locations that is clearly named to dissuade people from visiting, but visit we do nonetheless, and its apparently arid climes actually hide some crazy beauty. We’re not sure what the blurred light elements are in the bottom of this shot, but they lend the photo an ethereal, magical feel. 

US National Archive

The burn

Forest fires can be terrifying, but they’re also a natural part of regeneration (to a certain extent). This is the aftermath of such a fire in Glacier National Park, Montana, and shot in portrait orientation Adams gives it a massive sense of scale. Just try counting how many burnt trees are in this one shot. 

US National Archive

Misty mountains

This shot shows how Adams had a true eye for the sky, able to see clouds forming and flowing and capture them at just the right moment. This pair of mountains has a cloud passing through them that looks straight out of Lord of the Rings. 

US National Archive

Serenity

There’s nothing like a placid lake to make for a calming picture, and this photograph is a beautiful example. You can almost hear the natural silence that surrounds Adams as he takes this shot, with the many different hills and mountains all sloping down to the one lake. 

US National Archive

Postcard view

This looks like a still from an animated movie or a painting, so perfect is the framing and so varied are the profiles of the mountains on show, while that single tree’s silhouette at the bottom provides a lovely touch, and the cloud in the middle is just how you’d imagine one in your head.

US National Archive

The sky’s the limit

Again, here Adams shows his unique talent by pretty much making the sky the real star of the show – the limitless variation of the cloud cover, their colour and depth all making for an amazing tableau. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have an amazing mountain below it all. 

US National Archive

The elements

Here we get a great three-piece image in vertical, with the lake in the foreground rising up to a sudden, barren mountain, which in turn points up into the sky, beckoning the viewer that way. You can tell that the sun is once again peeking through on the scene, too, so beautiful is the light. 

US National Archive

Close-up

Adams might have been often preoccupied with the huge end of the scale, but he clearly also had an eye for detail, and you can see why this patch of lichen took his fancy, spreading out on a sheer rock face. Its texture is just as compelling and unique as the clouds photographed elsewhere. 

US National Archive

Perfection

Have you ever seen a more perfect leaf than this one? It’s another great showcase of Adams’ patience and eye, finding a pristine leaf to shoot in amongst the riot of options that any forest or undergrowth offers. 

US National Archive

A lovely fern

Another textbook example of a plant looking like how you’d imagine it in your head, this five-point fern is exposed beautifully, with a little more light than Adams sometimes used, to make for a dazzling image. 

US National Archive

Grand is the word

If you’re talking about depth, though, the layers and layers of rock faces and cliffs in this shot are jaw-dropping. It’s from Grand Canyon National Park, an area that people might not realise covers much more than just the Grand Canyon itself, allowing for amazing vistas like this one. 





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Stunning underwater photos that will take your breath away



There’s something magical about underwater photos. If you don’t believe us, imagine Nirvana’s Nevermind cover with the baby lying on a rug instead of swimming in a pool.

Stock photo libraries are packed with thrilling underwater shots, but there are lots of gems on Flickr, in Wikimedia and in other libraries too, and you can often use those photos in your own creations too.

Here are some of the most astounding underwater photos we’ve seen; some are astounding because of the moment they captured; others because of the stories of their subjects, and still others because of what they say about what we humans have done to so many species.

Please note that the last photo may not be appropriate for younger viewers.

Pixabay

Polar Bear

Not everything you see underwater lives underwater. Visitors like this polar bear are bad news for seals, because they’re looking for their dinner: for many seals this face may be the last thing they see, as it’s attached to a body weighing as much as 450Kg. Polar bears are yet another species suffering because of humans: climate change is destroying the ice on which they live, and they were classified as a threatened species by the US in 2008.

George Desipris, Pixabay

Grey Shark

Greek-based photographer has made good use of colour in this photo of a grey shark: it looks a lot more sinister than it actually is, because the grey shark isn’t really dangerous to humans unless you wear a swimsuit made of raw meat. Like many marine photographs this one has a sad undercurrent, because like many sharks the grey shark is suffering from declining numbers after years of commercial fishing: while they’re protected species, illegal fishing still occurs.

Aurelien Guichard CC BY-SA 2.0

Humboldt Penguin

Guichard is from London, but you won’t see many Humboldts around there: it’s native to South America, although this particular shot was taken in a bird park in France. You probably guessed that from the background colour: underwater shots in relatively small enclosures tend to be much greener than ones taken in the great outdoors. Nevertheless it’s a superb shot, capturing some really excellent side-eye from its subject.

Sylke Rohrlach, CC BY-SA 2.0

Blue Dragon-Glaucus Atlanticus

Technically this photo is only slightly underwater, as its subject was washed up into a rock pool – but we’re including it because it’s a great example of how otherworldly so many marine creatures can be. This little blue beauty is better known as a sea swallow, blue sea slug or Lizard Nudibranch, which would be an excellent stage name for someone in a band. It’s a small, blue sea slug that floats upside down in water; the blue colouring is camouflage so that it blends in with the blue of water, while the underwater side is silvery-grey. Don’t pick one up if you see one: they deliver a very painful sting.

NOAA Photo Library, CC BY 2.0

Seal Underwater

The NOAA is the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the scientific agency that concentrates on the oceans and the atmosphere. Its Flickr feed is full of amazing images like this one, taken on Hawaii’s Pearl and Hermes reef. We love it because it captures the playful curiosity of the seal really well. This particular seal is a young monk seal, one of two remaining types of monk seal: the third, the Caribbean monk seal, is extinct. This chap is a Hawaiian monk seal, the only seal native to Hawaii and sadly yet another name on the endangered species list.

NOAA Photo Library, CC BY 2.0

Humpback Whale

This beautiful photo of a humpback whale inspecting a diver is all over the internet – and sadly it’s usually posted without credit on wallpaper sites, free photo sites and so on. Once again we’re in the good hands of the NOAA, and this photo helps communicate the scale and majesty of this extraordinary creature. Some humpbacks can grow as long as 16 metres and weigh up to 30 metric tons, which is all the more incredible when you hit YouTube for videos of them hurling themselves into the air. This is one creature you really don’t want belly flopping onto your pedal. 

Dr Elliot, NOAA Photo Library, CC BY 2.0

A Magnificent Siphonophore

If we didn’t trust the NOAA we’d think they’d made this one in a 3D modelling app. The wondrously coloured Siphonophore is a Cnidaria, which is a group of creatures that includes coral and jellyfish such as the infamous Portuguese Man O’ War, and some of them are incredibly big: specimens as long as 40 metres have been discovered. The most colourful ones live in the deepest waters and some are even bioluminescent, glowing when disturbed. They’re predators but they’re also very vulnerable as they break very easily.

Engin Akyurt, Pexels.com

Underwater Woman

Let’s have some art. This striking image by Engin Akyurt is our favourite in a series of underwater shots: we like the composition, the stillness of the model and the contrast between the deep black of the background and the bright red of the model’s dress. Stock photo libraries contain quite a few arty underwater shots – for example, Adobe Stock has a selection of women in brightly coloured clothes and of couples swimming while wearing formal clothes – but we prefer this one: it does more with less.

Tim Mossholder, Pixabay

Purple and Pink Jellyfish

Aren’t jellyfish weird? This could be a space alien, or the pattern made by something leaking ink into water. It’s a brilliantly colourful image by the very versatile Tim Mossholder, whose photos often make great use of colour as in this photo. We don’t know what particular species this jellyfish is, but the combination of purple and pink usually spells bad news for its prey and of any humans unlucky enough to get too close.

Tom Fisk, Pexels.com

Scuba Diver near Brown Turtle

We love all photos of turtles because of their fantastically unimpressed expressions, but we particularly like this one because Tom Fisk’s use of perspective makes it look like the diver is approaching a turtle that’s much bigger than he is. The picture was shot off Komodo Island in Indonesia, which is home to five species of sea turtles – and while this particular turtle isn’t a giant, they can grow up to 2m long and can weigh up to 590kg.

Pawel Kalisinski, Pexels.com

Pink and Brown Jellyfish

Kalisinski has taken some beautiful shots in the warm, clear waters around Mallorca, and this close shot of an otherworldly jellyfish is great: it’s captured not just the weird blobbiness of its subject but the floating tendrils it uses to catch its meals. Although Kalisinski doesn’t name the jellyfish we think it’s Pelagia Noctiluca, a relatively small and quite unusual sight in the Majorcan waters but one you don’t want to get on the wrong side of: those tentacles can cause pain, burning and muscle cramps.

Pixabay

Red Jellyfish

There’s weird, and then there’s Red Jellyfish weird. This luminous lovely looks like a visitor from another planet, and we’d love to know who took the photo, where they took it and what particular kind of jellyfish this is. Sadly Pixabay can only tell us that it was shot in 2013 on a Panasonic DMC-FZ200, which isn’t really very helpful.

Pixabay

Man in Water

Who needs extraordinary creatures when you can get a scuba diver to blow some bubbles from his mask? This unattributed shot from Pixabay works brilliantly because it’s free of context: we can make up the entire backstory and imagine he’s a spy, or he’s just spotted a really big and angry shark.

Philip Bussey, CC BY 2.0

Isla Mujeres

There’s something haunting about man-made things that weren’t designed to live at the bottom of the sea, and the photo sites are packed with fascinating photos of shipwrecks and other vehicles that ended up where they weren’t intended. But as interesting as they are, we’re more drawn to the ruins of architecture and of amazing things like these sunken statues from the Mexican island of Isla Mujeres. It looks like the aftermath of a tragedy but it’s actually a modern art museum, which is pretty astounding.

Salvatore Barbera, CC BY-SA 2.0

Sea Turtle in fishing net

Our final photograph is the saddest: taken by Greenpeace photographer Salvatore Barbera, aka Capitan Giona, it’s the body of a turtle drowned by a fishing net. While much fishing is of course environmentally responsible it still has its victims, and illegal overfishing has brought some species to the very brink of extinction. But it’s not just fishing that threatens marine life. Pollution, especially in the form of plastics, is taking a heavy toll too.





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These stunning award-winning pro photos will blow you away



There are photos, and there are photos. We’ve all taken some holiday snaps at a particularly enviable location, or in a rather picturesque spot, and checked out the images later, thinking that professional photography might not be out of reach after all.

Well, maybe think twice about that – the images you’re about to browse are from the shortlist of Professional shots from Sony’s 2020 World Photography Awards, and to say they’re stunning would be an understatement. 

José De Rocco, Argentina, Finalist, Professional, Architecture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Angles

This image is all about the clean lines and stunning, bright colours. It’s like something out of a child’s imagination, but is actually just the result of people wanting a splash of colour in their lives. 

Sandra Herber, Canada, Finalist, Professional, Architecture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Isolation

Here, again, you get a splash of colour, this time in an otherwise white-out landscape. This tiny home looks like it might be encrusted in place, but in theory could be picked up like a trailer and driven away. The yellow of the main cabin is a beautiful contrast to the freezing outdoors. 

Massimo Gurrieri, Italy, Shortlist, Professional, Discovery, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Construction

It’s amazing seeing monumental structures in the process of being constructed, and there’s something completely otherworldly about seeing these giant elephant heads in India, robbed of their context, with a worker casually holding one in place. 

Giuliano Berti, Italy, Shortlist, Professional, Sport, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Tuckered out

Part of the story of any sport is the exhaustion afterward, whether you’ve won or lost. We love the way this wrestler has so clearly sat down utterly knackered, and the fact that his expression gives nothing away at all about how his own bout went. 

Yelena Strokin, Russian Federation, Shortlist, Professional, Still Life, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Growth

This image has something magic realist about it, and certainly seems to be sending a message about the value of reading and book-learning. The mushrooms growing from this tome seem to evoke wizards and witches, but maybe that’s just us.

Elena Helfrecht, Germany, Finalist, Professional, Still Life, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

A matter of scale

This photograph is an interesting contrast in scales, with the architecturally complex model on the floor drawing the eye. The table above it is more beguiling, especially when you realise that it’s an inch off the ground. 

Sabina Candusso, Italy, Shortlist, Professional, Still Life, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Shorn

We all know the aftermath of a home haircut means sweeping – lots of sweeping. This photo takes that scene and turns it into a lovely meditation on texture, not to mention an ode to a classic-looking chair. 

Alessandro Gandolfi, Italy, Finalist, Professional, Still Life, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Mocked up

The models used by trainee doctors to practice their medicine are creepy at the best of times. The colour grading and orientation of this photo makes this scene seem almost like something out of a picture book, or constructed from toys.  

Alessandro Gandolfi, Italy, Finalist, Professional, Still Life, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Uncanny valley

If you thought the last model was creepy, try this one on for size. It’s a robot called Alter on display in a robotics museum in Tokyo, and as far as we’re concerned, it’s terrifying. 

Sandrine Laure Dippa, France, Shortlist, Professional, Still Life, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Still life

This still life has beautiful colour to showcase in its tablecloth, while the subject, the tuber cassava, is lovingly focused upon and lit to show the wonderful variety of its knobbly crusted skin.

Cecilia Manzanares Vargas, Mexico, Shortlist, Professional, Still Life, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Micro

Bugs under a microscope – it’s not our idea of fun, but the images you can get out of the process are undeniably striking. This black-and-white monstrosity is tiny, but photographed like this, could be a giant space beast for all you know. 

Frédéric duhayer, France, Shortlist, Professional, Sport, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Big air

This kid is shredding it – proving that scooters can get huge air just like skateboards, and making us worry for his safety at the same time. The perspective is brave, and the expression on his face is priceless. 

Denis Rouvre, France, Finalist, Professional, Portraiture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Portrait

This portrait is of Chantal, a woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the victim of sexual violence perpetrated by soldiers. As part of photographer Denis Rouvre’s Unsung Heroes project she talked about her experience. This photo is a raw reminder of the importance photography can carry as an act of witnessing. 

Sasha Maslov, Ukraine, Finalist, Professional, Portraiture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

A retro look

We love the look and feel of this photo – you couldn’t tell what decade it was from if you tried. It’s a railroad worker in Ukraine, and we’re fond of how proud she is of that uniform, paired with those spectacular curtains for a beautiful colour palette. 

Jon Enoch, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Professional, Portraiture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Captured at work

This might be our favourite portrait in this whole collection, a goldfish seller captured on his bike about to drive away. The lighting is sumptuous, while just taking in all the fish on his stand would keep us occupied for some time. 

Brent Stirton, South Africa, Finalist, Professional, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Precious

Pangolins are trafficked in sad numbers, and remain extremely endangered. They’re stunning creatures, and extremely beautiful to observe, as this photo demonstrates, picking out the details and outline of each of it scales with lovely skill. 

Adalbert Mojrzisch, Germany, Finalist, Professional, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Texture

You might be hard-pressed to guess what this photograph is actually of – we certainly were stumped. It’s actually a butterfly’s wings under a lot of degrees of magnification.

Marko Dimitrijevic, Switzerland, Shortlist, Professional, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Chilly

Bears might be more used to the freezing cold than us, but we have to say we still feel pretty sorry for this chilly-looking customer. The frost in his beard is really detailed, while the black and white gives the whole picture a melancholic air. 

Mauro Battistelli, Italy, Shortlist, Professional, Landscape, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Colour grading

The grey of these trees is in wonderful contrast to their orange leaves, while the fallen foliage on the water’s surface give this a really eerie vibe. It’s like something out of True Detective, with the bayou beckoning. 

Peixia Xie, China, Shortlist, Professional, Landscape, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Man’s mark

There’s nothing like a remote road to remind you of the extent to which we have remodelled the world’s landscapes to suit our ends. This winding road with its endless switchbacks is a textbook example. 

Luca Locatelli, Italy, Finalist, Professional, Environment, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Clinical

Similarly, anytime you forget that we’re growing plants, flowers and foodstuffs in almost insane quantities at a time, check out an image like this to remind you that many “farms” don’t look like much like their name anymore. 

Ronny Behnert, Germany, Finalist, Professional, Landscape, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Symmetry

Returning to calmer themes, this beautiful sea gate and two lanterns is shrouded all around by mist to create a scene that wouldn’t look out of place in a Miyazaki film. It’s a lovely, blanched photograph. 

Marco Garofalo, Italy, Shortlist, Professional, Environment, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

A family business

It might not look like your own domestic bliss, but this photo of family harmony is delightful. The Bolivian family here have swapped to agriculture because the climate crisis was making their old craft of fishing harder and harder. 

Robin Hinsch, Germany, Finalist, Professional, Environment, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Hellscape

And here’s the climate crisis represented more forcefully – a natural gas flaring site in Nigeria spews flames into the sky, above a landscape that was once vibrant and full of life, and now looks like somewhere to be avoided at all costs. 

Ian Willms, Canada, Shortlist, Professional, Documentary, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Pilgrimage

Again, the industrial background to this image is impossible to escape. We love the bizarre symbolism of this lone wanderer, decked out in gold, making what looks like a pilgrimage toward a promised land that doesn’t hold much allure. 

Nicholas Moir, Australia, Shortlist, Professional, Documentary, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Hell on earth

If the fossil fuels burning don’t evoke the climate crisis, this terrifying image of a true conflagration should. Needless to say, it’s from Australia’s bushfire crisis, and the lone fire truck puts the scale of destruction into proper context. 

Hashem Shakeri, Iran, Finalist, Professional, Discovery, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Bleached

A more peaceful scene, if still somewhat unsettling, is provided by this photograph of Pardis, near Tehran. The blanched-out colours make for a landscape that almost looks unreal.

Yevhen Samuchenko, Ukraine, Shortlist, Professional, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

True pink

You don’t often see the colour pink in nature, but this superb aerial image of the Lemurian salt lake, Ukraine, shows that where it does arise, it’s simply stunning. The addition of a single person gives you a sense of scale and points out the colours all the more vividly. 

Ángel López Soto, Spain, Finalist, Professional, Sport, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Athleticism

We love how communal this image is, with these wrestlers training against the sand’s resistance as a group, all striving for the same goal of excellence and victory. You can see how single-minded each is at the moment captured. 

Murat Yazar, Turkey, Shortlist, Professional, Discovery, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

True romance

We end on a true high note with this photograph of an Iraqi couple taking a boat trip having just been married. The bride picks her way up the rocky beach carefully, her beautiful dress clear and obvious as a beacon, while the groom carefully gets on the boat in the background. One lovely little further detail – in the background, a lone swimmer interrupts the lake’s surface. 





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Stunning images taken from the sky



Drone photography has soared in recent years, with the number of and quality of drone photos increasing every year. There are so many photos in fact that drone photography even has its own official awards programmes.

Now that most new drones come equipped with high-quality cameras capable of capturing great shots and videos the images are only getting better and better. We say easier but that’s not to say it’s a walk in the park. 

We’ve compiled some of the best photos we’ve seen as well as plenty more from Dronestagram and the Skypixel photo contest to show off just how stunning drone photos can be. Get ready to pick your jaw up off the floor.

Amos Chapple

The star fort at Bourtange

Fort Bourtange was originally built in 1593 in the Netherlands to defend and control the road between Germany and the city of Groningen. It has seen a lot of history in the decades and centuries that have passed since and has recently, rather fittingly been converted into a historical museum. 

From above, Fort Bourtange is certainly beautiful, surrounded by defensive moats and brilliant countryside. 

Amos Chapple

Savior on the Spilled Blood

This is a magnificent view of a Church in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It shows the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. This incredible building originally began construction in 1893, and represents a romantic nationalism architectural style by Alfred Alexandrovich Parland and Archimandrite Ignaty. 

Amos Chapple

A deserted college

This is a beautiful view of the countryside of the Republic of Abkhazia. It shows an amazing landscape with a tragic history as this is part of the region where ethnic cleansings occurred in the 1990s. People were expelled from their homes, brutally murdered and persecuted. Now a broken, deserted college stands as a homage to this tragic time. 

Amos Chapple

Lotus Temple

This is certainly a breath-taking view of an already awe-inspiring temple of worship. The Lotus Temple is located in Delhi, India and is famed for its flowerlike shape. It’s also a place of wonder thanks to welcoming everyone – regardless of religious belief. 

Deryk Baumgärtner

Mont Saint Michel in the fog

This breathtaking shot shows the famous French monastery Mont Saint Michel bathed in stunning morning fog. This image was also chosen as the grand prize winner of 2018’s Skypixel contest

Zekedrone

Bathing Hippos

This image of bathing hippos won the first place prize in Dronestagram’s 2018 drone photography awards. The photographer, Martin Sanchez, said:

“This by far was the highlight of my trip to Tanzania. I giant hippo party which was super VIP. But I knew exactly how to get in. Something they couldn’t resist. A game of Hungry Hungry Hippos!”

Wiltold Ziomek

Sunrise in Bagan

This brilliant drone photo was snapped in Bagan, Myanmar by Witold Ziomek. He used a Mavic Pro done to snap this brilliant photo of ancient architecture backdropped by hot air balloons. 

drone.nest/Ilya Martyanov

Whoops

An unhappy accident makes for a pretty awesome aerial photograph. A lorry has tipped over and spilt its load on the side of the road. Ilya Martyanov noticed the accident and quickly dashed out to send his drone up for a snap. The result of which is a fantastic drone photograph of the pitfalls of modern life. 

sebastianmzh

The red train

This brilliantly contrasting image from the sky shows a fantastic red train passing through the snow-covered mountains of Switzerland. 

Photographersworld/dronestagram

Thin ice

A weirdly beautiful black and white photograph that appears to show a vein-like pattern on the ice below. Perhaps the remains of a tree that’s disappeared below the icy depths? 

John Wong/dronestagram

Happy boats

A thoroughly cheerful view from the rivers of Singapore shows canoes from above, posing in a position that makes them look like a happy face. Of course, it could be an accident, but it’s a happy accident if it is. 

Jerome Courtial

Summer trim, France by jcourtial

Jerome Courtial, a 39-year-old Frenchman based in London, went to Valensole to get “an original picture rather than the classic view with the sunset in the background”. His girlfriend was with him, and in an interview after being chosen as the No. 1 winner of Dronestagram’s 2017 awards, he thanked her for her patience, as they “waited quite a long time to find the perfect spot”. The photo ended up being his favourite picture ever taken.

Alexey Goncharov

Dawn on mercury tower, Russia by Alexeygo

Alexey Goncharov, a 36-years-old physicist who works at Moscow State University, said he sometimes takes drone photos before heading into work. One morning, while in search of a beautiful reflection in mirror windows of Mercury tower, he spotted 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.”

nigelkwan/SkyPixel

Freewheeling

This aerial image really plays tricks on the eye giving the impression of a cyclist mounting the side of a skyscraper. Nigel Kwan’s image was skillfully captured using a Mavic Pro. 

Javier del Cerro/SkyPixel

Geometry of liquid gold

Javier del Cerro captured this brilliant aerial snap of the amazing symmetry of the olive tree groves of Castilla La Mancha, Spain. 

Luis Saguar Domingo

Peace, Spain by luckydron

Luis Saguar Domingo, a 24-year-old, said he got his drone as a gift at Christmas and was in Madrid looking for a nice place to fly the new drone. He feels relaxed when flying simply because of all the beautiful landscapes he’s able to see, and when he took this picture, he thought it was “really cool and symmetrical”. From this point of view, Domingo said it is really “hard taking a pic like that”.

olivier…/SkyPixel

Elements

This astoundingly beautiful image of the landscapes of Iceland is actually 12 separate images stitched into one. A brilliant panoramic shot of the surroundings with the cloud-covered mountaintops and flowing rivers cutting through the landscape.

Luke Bell

Two moo by Luke Bell

Luke Bell, a Cape Town-based videographer and photographer, said he took this photo on a cold, early morning in South Africa on a farm near Stellenbosch. “Two cows drinking from a nearby dam caught my eye when I saw their long shadows,” he explained. “I launched my drone to capture the scene in a way impossible with any other type of camera.”

Trung Pham/SkyPixel

Baby lobsters breeding farm

Above the waters of Vietnam, Trung Pham captured this image of the lobster farms of the Phu Yen province. The striking colours and mix of man-made materials with nature make for an incredible photograph. 

Thibault Beguet

Next Level by Macareuxprod

Thibault Beguet, a 34-year-old photographer based in Rennes, Brittany, uses drones to take photos and make films for companies, agencies, TV, etc. This picture was captured  with his girlfriend, Manon, while looking for a fun, original, and unusual way to announce they’re expecting to loved ones and friends: “We love Normandy, the sea, and outdoor activities, so we choose naturally to shoot on the beach.”

Romain Gaillard

Ugo le marin by Rga

Romain Gaillard said this picture was taken early in the morning. “I had gone to the beach to take some pictures,” he explained. “As I watched my children playing on the beach… I had the idea of using the sand as a large sheet of paper. So my two sons and myself drew a scene related to the sea – on the image you can see my oldest son.” 

caokynhan/SkyPixel

Raising ducks by the river

In the skies above Vietnam, a drone captures ducks being raised by the local farmers. A mass of white ducks relax on the peaceful riverways while the farmer works. 

Bachir Moukarzel

Concrete jungle, Dubai, EAA by Bachirm

Bachir Moukarzel, a 33-year-old Lebanese living in Dubai, is a cluster Financial controller in Rotana Hotels. This picture was shot at sunset time in Dubai at 6pm, while trying to capture an area which was a desert 10 years back but is now “a concrete jungle with the highest buildings in Dubai”. He said every flight is a new adventure, even though he has been flying for ages, as each flight “has its own taste”.

Mauro Pagliai

When in Rome

The Roman Colosseum is an incredible sight from the ground and from most angles. It’s a marvel of architecture and a fantastic view of our history. Just when you thought it couldn’t get more impressive, along comes this image by Mauri Pagliai showing it in full nighttime splendor from the sky. 

This image was selected for one of the People’s Choice Prizes in the Sky Pixel contest

Panvelvet

Not a small Hong Kong island

Like a scene out of Inception, this drone photo captured with a Phantom 4 Pro shows a dream-like view of Hong Kong. A collection of 43 photos was just to create this amazing view and it’s certainly impressive. 

Nattar2006

Icelandic waterfall

A wonderful Mavic Pro photo of the landscapes of Iceland and one of the many ice-encrusted waterfalls visible across the landscapes. 

Kevin_Frank

Fire and ice

Another brilliant Mavic Pro photo. This time from Yellowstone National Park in the US. The icy surface below shows brilliant colours as hot sulfur water finds its way through the snow. 

Skypixel

Lighthouse of Smögen

A perfectly timed photograph of a lighthouse in Sweden shows the sun setting through the top. The brilliant red of the tip shining brightly for all to see. An empty horizon stretches off into the background. Brilliantly simple, wonderfully framed and fantastic use of a Mavic Pro. 

@bachir_photo_phactory

A lion’s eye view

The king of the jungle is also perfect fodder for a fantastic aerial snap. This brilliant image shows a lion disturbed by the sounds of the drone, but not put out by its presence. Not often you get to safely view a wild animal in this manner unless you happen to be hiding in a nearby tree.

AMPHOTOCO

Buddy

Dolphins are awesome, aren’t they? Even more so when you get to see them like this at home in their natural habitat in incredibly crystal clear waters off the coast of Western Australia. 

Bryan Duma

Central Park in the winter

New York City certainly sees some regular snowfall. The city’s park looks incredible from this angle – even more so when sprinkled in wintery snow. 

Bryan Dumas

A bird’s eye view of Lombard Street, San Francisco

Most people will be able to identify this as the famous Lombard Street – reportedly “the crookedest street in the world”. This windy road is certainly iconic and this drone photo is equally fantastic. 

Quitos123

Tatahatso Point

This brilliant image shows Tatahatso Point at the Grand Canyon. A popular photography spot, but not often seen from the sky. 

PJSmooth77

Novo Mesto, Slovenia

This incredible sight is seen in the town of Novo Mesto, near the border of Croatia. A lush green landscape, winding river and close-knit community can be easily seen from the sky. 

Alkesnadr

Metamorphosis

This isn’t just a small jetty into beautiful waters. It’s also an aerial view of a lighthouse on the coast of Yalta. The waters are actually the Black Sea. This impressively high photo makes the lighthouse appear tiny too. Which is no mean feat.  

Barry1602

Stylish symmetry

This simple photo wasn’t snapped as high in the sky as some of the others on our list, but that’s doesn’t make it great. The view of rows and rows of vines stretching off as far as the eye can see look fantastic. Even more so with the brilliant symmetry. 

FreDD

A lonesome home

In the dusty plains, a lonely house sits surrounded by nothing but dust, brush and the occasional tree. The buildings casting magnificent shadows across the land.  

Bryan Dumas

Where we’re going we don’t need roads

Roads, roads, so many roads. But who needs roads when you can fly? Certainly not this drone. 

Valentin Valkov/SkyPixel

Santa Maddalena village, Italy

This incredible photo shows the beautiful green hills and surroundings of Santa Maddalena in Italy. A brilliantly colourful shot of nature made possible by a man-made drone. 

Jesper Guldbrand/SkyPixel

The long ride

This photo is actually the result of a number of different images stitched together to create the end result. This stitching gives the impression of a bending world that stretches off into infinity. We’ve seen this style before and have to say it’s a pretty awesome way to capture drone photographs. 

Jesper Guldbrand gives a bit more insight:

“This series is called “Mind bending” and is shot during 2017 in different locations of Sweden. Falun is a great city for mountain biking. This photo shows it. 20 images stitched together. A process that took about 1.5 months.”

lalienware/SkyPixel

Night line

This image shows a Chinese fisherman working in the waters, plying their trade. This image was one of a series of similarly beautiful images captured above the waters. 

天涯/SkyPixel

Autumn fragrance

Taken in the skies of China, a number of magnificent photos were snapped by this professional photographer using a DJI Phantom 4 Pro. One of these images shows the rural villages and the hard work that goes into reaping the crop of fruit. This aerial view was chosen as the runner-up in the professional story category. We’d highly recommend checking out the rest of the images too

The photographer commented:

“Autumn season is the season of harvest, full of golden fruit is the earth’s contribution to the hard work of mankind.”

在那片更高的天空/SkyPixel

The land of the Earth

This image is a part of a collection of photos showing the damage industrial waste has done to the landscape. Although showing waves of beautiful colour, these aerial photographs actually demonstrate the damage mankind has done to the world we inhabit. 

The photographer commented

“The rapid development of human civilization has brought a series of negative effects. The environment is polluted and the ecology is destroyed. At present, the status quo of pollution in the earth is very harsh, forming a staggering “earth 殇”! Mankind must reflect on the triumphant industry development model, truly implement the policy of transforming the development mode and achieve sustainable social and economic development. Face the devastation of the earth, forever scars. Environmental pollution must be managed, otherwise, there will be no complete earth. Without protection of the environment, mankind will perish. Abstract images can instead better express the environmental impact of industrial pollution. Although these industrial pollution-related environments, details and colours can produce an attractive charm, the appearance does not represent the essence of spectacular colourful pictures may be very ugly nature, it is dirty, very evil. Human beings are rich in invention and creativity. They can also create a distinctive visual beauty in the process of industrial pollution and destruction of nature. The author recorded the destroyed land in aerial photography. This group of photos (18) 2017 shot in a mine tailings.”

Bobo/SkyPixel

Woman in the wash

From the shores of Taiwan, this aerial image captures the photographer laying by the edge of the water, the whitewash of the waves blending with her white dress. This brilliant photograph was nominated as a professional image in the portrait category. 

The photographer, Bobo, commented about this image:

“This is my Taiwan film, Hualien’s coastline is steep cliffs and secluded sea, steep terrain, step by step is the deep sea. I’ve always wanted a special perspective, so try my best to try that as Mavic flies over the coastline, I find the waves on the coast flashes beautifully between dark grey gravel and turquoise water, dark and light. The contrast was very strong. When the waves fell toward the shore and retreated, they showed a vast and euphemistic shape, reminding me of the tail end of the whale, and finished the work. I pressed the shutter when the spray and the skirt were handed over to make the skirt and the sea wave blend together and have a sense of extension, leaving the work with an attachment and a similar space. With this idea, I shot a series of compositions in different forms continuously. The whole process was very exciting. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day. If it is sunny, the overall color of the works will be even more gorgeous.”

Max Foster/SkyPixel

Elemental

This aerial photograph was captured at 1,500 feet above the rivers of Iceland. The swooping lines show the beauty of nature and this image is part of a series of equally magnificent snaps with a similar theme.

曾新民/SkyPixel

Anchang town more goods

This image shows an old town around twisting waterways. This town is known for its produce, but it’s now also known for its views. This aerial image is part of a collection captured using the DJI Spark a small but clearly capable drone. 

Zeng Xinmin commented about this image:

“Anchang Ancient Town is one of the four famous ancient towns in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province is the first batch of published historical and cultural towns. Was built in the Northern Song Dynasty, after the war, repeatedly burned, and rebuilt in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the architectural style inherits the typical characteristics of Jiangnan Water Village, a water, simple and elegant, its speciality Anchang sausage, or “sauce” The poultry meat, etc. Only you can not think of, there is no Anchang “wax”, “sauce” can not. It is the hometown of Shaoxing Master.”

水庆华/SkyPixel

Inle Lake fishing show

This image highlights the show the fishermen put on for tourists on the Inle Lake in Burma, but actually represents their traditional fishing methods in action. The aerial view taken with the DJI Mavic Pro is certainly something special and likely very different to the view usually seen by people visiting the lake. 

The photographer commented:

“Myanmar’s Inu River, the ancient and unique fishing methods, attracting countless tourists to watch, and now has become a show.”

This image captured with a DJI Phantom 4 and shows the docks of the Yantian District, China. This photo is part of a series of beautiful images of workers caring for the docks and maintaining the surfaces. 

光和影/SkyPixel

Beautiful Yantian

This image captured with a DJI Phantom 4 and shows the docks of the Yantian District, China. This photo is part of a series of beautiful images of workers caring for the docks and maintaining the surfaces. 

Petra Leary/SkyPIxel

Balmoral Ball

This aerial image of the basketball courts of Auckland shows wonderfully contrasting colours and brilliant symmetry from the skies. This image by Petra Leary, won first prize in the professional portrait category in 2017’s Skypixel awards. 

andrea/SkyPixel

The rebirth

From Sardinia, Italy, this aerial image won third prize in the professional portrait category of 2017’s Skypixel awards with a simple caption:

“Now you’re going to be witness to the rebirth of humanity.”

Ian Montgomery

Saksun

Saksun is a small village located in the northwestern part of the Faroese island of Streymoy. The village is surrounded by splendid landscapes with breath-taking views of nature. This amazing view of the local church was captured by Ian Montgomery using his Mavic Pro and submitted to the Sky Pixel contest.  

沈旻/SkyPixel

Waterfall hero

A lone man is captured diving over the waterfall. This brilliantly timed photo shows a Guinness World Record holder carrying out his passion.  

The photographer gave a little more insight into it:

“He is over sixty, he is the world record holder for the Guinness waterfall diving. In China’s famous spout of the Yellow River and the great falls of the water tower in Heilongjiang province, he surprised the world with his leap. In the air, his action stretches the beautiful. Freeze the moment of the shock, take this leap into eternity.”

SkyPixel

Footprints

A lone man is captured wading through the desert sands in the depths of China. The image was submitted to the Skypixel awards with the caption:

“It was shot in the Tengger Desert, an outdoor sportsman walking hard in the desert on foot, with the footsteps of deeper and deeper, will not be caught?”

LENG_VISION/SkyPixel

Grab the fall’s tail

Another breath-taking aerial photograph captured on the Phantom 4 Pro shows the wonderful reds of the Autumn trees.

Marc Lamey/SkyPixel

Lost in the sand dunes

Near the Grand Staircase National monument area in Utah, Marc Lamey snapped this image using a DJI Phantom 4 Pro. The subject of his photo curled up on the warm sands below.

cocoanext/SkyPixel

Dancer

This brilliantly simple image was captured on a DJI Mavic Pro and shows a dancer in the centre of an ancient courtyard in Shanghai, China.

Photographer Cocoanext commented:

“Shanghai’s only nearly 190-year-old courtyard house with northern features is rarely seen in the south, where dancers dance not only skirts but also old Shanghai memories”

Drone Hikers/SkyPixel

Comet into darkness

In the early hours of the morning, in Newfoundland Canada, a professional drone photographer sent his drone up to see what he could see on the waters. A fishing boat approaching the shore is flocked by seagulls, no doubt trying to snag an easy catch of their own. 

“One of my favourite shots. An early morning in Newfoundland, I was hiking on the East Coast Trail when I heard a bunch of seagulls. I quickly launched my drone to find-out what was causing the mayhem. It was a small cod fishing boat steaming towards the harbour, a truly magical moment.”

Zay Yar Lin/SkyPixel

Sun’s Up, Nets Out

This snap shows a fisherman on his boat on the waters of Inle Lake. This talented man is not only rowing his boat with his leg, but also managing to catch fish at the same time. A brilliant photograph, well deserving of the prize. 

“An Intha fisherman sets up his net to fish as he paddles his boat with a unique leg-rowing technique in Mayanmar’s Inle Lake”

菜鸟视觉/SkyPixel

The sun is busy

This drone photo shows an aerial view of workers drying noodles on various racks. The photographer captioned the image:  

“On October 5, 2017, villagers in Xiashi Town, Kaili City, Guizhou Province, were busy drying noodles.” 

Florian Ledoux/Skypixel

Above the polar bear

The Grand Prize winner of 2017’s Skypixel awards, captured using a Phantom 4 Pro, shows a lone polar bear leaping across the icy landscapes. Photographer Florian Ledoux, captioned his image:

“Dear future generation, I hope we will still be able to see the Arctic wildlife as we do now. It is threatened as the environment is changing. I was able to witness many scenes of wildlife and I can guarantee you this is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Incredible and unique shot above a polar bear in Nunavut, Baffin area during wildlife reportage in Nunavut and Greenland.”

Trung Pham/SkyPixel

Baby lobsters breeding farm

Above the waters of Vietnam, Trung Pham captured this image of the lobster farms of the Phu Yen province. The striking colours and mix of man-made materials with nature make for an incredible photograph. 

caokynhan/SkyPixel

Raising ducks by the river

In the skies above Vietnam, a drone captures ducks being raised by the local farmers. A mass of white ducks relax on the peaceful riverways while the farmer works. 

Martin Sanchez

End of the line, USA by Martin Sanchez

Martin Sanchez said he took this photo on a Saturday afternoon in April just before sunset in New Jersey. He noticed an empty tennis court that “just stood out like a treasured story in a book of empty words”. After a few takes, two people came by to play some tennis and seemed confused watching him lay on the ground. When he was done, he showed them his photo and they said, “Ohhhh! I get it!”

Javier Bustamante

La Vijanera, Spain by feelingmovie

Javier Bustamante, a 32-year-old designer, said he took this photo while at La Vijanera, a winter carnival that takes place in the town of Silió in Cantabria (Spain) on the first Sunday of each year. “This party consists on a group of hunters who want to capture a bear,” he explained. “(Sic) Tour the village representing the capture of the bear… This photo is the end of the party in which the bear is captured.”

Florian Ledoux

Ice formation By Florian

Florian Ledoux, a 27-year-old who recently moved to Reykjavik to get closer to the Arctic, started to photograph in Greenland in 2014 to “report changes in Inuit culture and to witness the beauty of this huge land”. This photo was taken during winter in East Greenland – one of the most remote place on Earth. He said he attempted to fly here several times, and that his drone got attacked by two Gyrfalcon.

helios1412

Waterlily, Vietnam by helios1412

A beautiful shot from above the waterways of Vietnam shows a lone worker wading deep in the water. 

Calin Stan

Infinite Road by Calin Stan

Calin Stan, a 30-year-old who has worked in the photography business for more than a decade and owns his own business, said his drone image is of the Cheia DN1A road that takes you to Transylvania in Romania. Or, as the legend says, this is the view that “Count Dracula himself saw on his nocturnal flight”, Stan explained. He actually first captured the image for the Transylvania Roads Project.

Alex Javier

Basilica del Voto Nacional

An amazing sun-bathed view of the Basilica del Voto Nacional, a Roman Catholic church that dominates the horizon of Quito, Ecuador. The amazing church was blessed by the Pope in 1985 and is one of the biggest attractions of the area. It also makes for an impressive drone photo as Alex Javier proved with this snap using his Phantom 4 Pro. 

Petra Leary/ZEISS Photography Award

Daily Geometry by Petra Leary

If you’re going to have a list of the best drone photos around, it only seems fair to include a real award winner. These images are part of a series called “Daily Geometry” by award-winning aerial photographer Petra Leary. This collection of photos saw the aerial photography master selected for the shortlist of the Zeiss Photography Award 2019. Brilliant lines, bold eye-catching colours and amazing symmetry from simple urban locales. 





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