On his way to work one day, drone photographer Alexey Goncharov sat on a bench near Moscow's Mercury City Tower, searching for the best angle to capture the perfect reflection off the soaring, pinkish-bronze mirrored windows. He sent his drone up the 1,112-foot-tall building. While the drone was in the flight, he spotted three window washers dangling on the side of the building. "I liked the way their work looked from that perspective," recounted the physicist at Moscow State University. His high-flying photograph earned him second prize in the urban category of the 2017 Dronestagram contest.
Drones allow photographers to capture images and video from perspectives that would be nearly impossible -- or prohibitively expensive -- otherwise. Some of the best examples of this type of photography can be found in Dronestagram's annual contest, which recognizes the most stunning images captured from the skies. This year's competition included 5,900 submissions from 28 countries, according to National Geographic. The photos are broken down into three categories: Nature-Wildlife, Sports, and Travel. First, second, and third place winners have been announced for each.
Aerial photography provides a breathtaking perspective on a familiar world, lifting viewers above the trees and buildings so they might reimagine the landscape. The art form dates to 1858, when Gaspard-Félix Tournachon photographed the rooftops and boulevards of Paris from a hot air balloon 1,600 feet above the city. Photographers have in the years since attached cameras to almost anything that flies, from pigeons and kites to airplanes and rockets. Still, aerial photography remained the purview of professionals, a tool for armies and spies, or a hobby for the wealthy until drones brought it to the masses. Now anyone with a few hundred dollars and the skill to fly a drone can make stunning aerial photos.
The winners of this year's aerial photography competition run by online site Dronestagram have been announced. There were thousand of entries taken using drone cameras and the winners were selected by the judges - National Geographic deputy director Patrick Witty and Emanuela Ascoli, photo editor of National Geographic France - and Dronestagram's team. Here we present the winning images from the four categories. This year there was a special category to recognise the creativity of the Dronestagram community.