Bird’s Eye View: The Best of Drone Photography

Love Heart of Nature / Jim Picôt

Photographers have taken to the air en masse. With drones loaded with high-resolution cameras, aerial photographers are capturing surprising and beautiful scenes from both nature and cities, giving us a fresh perspective on the planet’s complexity. After receiving submissions from 126 countries, the Siena Awards Festival selected their latest Drone Photography Awards. The grand prize winner took home €500,000 (US$586,000) of aerial photography equipment.

Photograph of the year went to Love Heart of Nature by Australian photographer Jim Picôt (see above), who captured an amazing scene in which a shark chases a fish within a heart-shaped school of salmon.

In the urban category, aerial photographer Tomasz Kowalski describes the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as an alien landscape.

Alien Structure on Earth / Tomasz Kowalski

Dmitrii Viliunov, the winner of the wildlife category, explains that “many think herons make nests in reeds or in a swamp. In fact, they nest in the tops of huge trees.” With a drone, it’s possible to get a sense of their home life.

Where Herons Live / Dmitrii Viliunov

In the sports category, photographer Roberto Corinaldesi captures swimmers “taking refuge between the blue carpet and the white foam of the waves.”

On the Sea / Roberto Corinaldesi

And in a wonderful photograph by Joseph Cheires, winner of the nature category, we see a gray whale who seems to enjoy interacting with whale watchers. Cheires writes: “at the end of the gray whale season, I was told about a whale that for the last three years played with the boats, pushing them gently. So we went back the year after, and incredibly the gray whale appeared.”

Gray Whale Plays Pushing Tourists / Joseph Cheires

Lastly, in the abstract category, we get a glimpse of the incredible resilience of nature. Aerial photographer Paul Hoelen captures the results of the transformation of a toxic industrial mining site at Lake Owens in California into a shorebird reserve. Hoelen writes: “after a destructive past and the creation of the most toxic dust bowl in America, migratory birds are returning, and life is beginning anew.”

Phoenix Rising / Paul Hoelen

The photographs are now on display in an exhibition entitled “Above Us Only Sky” in Siena, Italy, through the end of November.

Explore all winners.

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