The Most Beautiful Photos Taken by Drones This Year

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An overhead view of the Mengzhuiwan pool in Chengdu, Sichuan province in China. Zhang Zhi. Courtesy of SkyPixel.

Thanks to ever-improving camera technology, even low-cost drones can take some pretty stunning images. To help show off some of the best drone imagery out there, drone company DJI this year created SkyPixel, “a dedicated platform for aerial photographers and filmmakers from around the world.”

To celebrate SkyPixel’s first year running, the site is holding what it bills as the world’s biggest aerial photography contest. The grand prize includes a cutting edge drone setup, including one of DJI’s drones and cameras as well as editing software and a Zeiss virtual reality headset to see through the eyes of the drone in-flight. Submissions will close on Dec. 27; winners will be announced Jan. 1.

Below, see some of the most beautiful drone images on SkyPixel, as curated by TIME.

A long exposure photo of downtown Vancouver. Mark Calayag. Courtesy of SkyPixel.
A long exposure photo of downtown Vancouver. Mark Calayag. Courtesy of SkyPixel.

 

A circulation of sheep in Kazakhstan. Dmitry Balakirev. Courtesy of SkyPixel.
A circulation of sheep in Kazakhstan. Dmitry Balakirev. Courtesy of SkyPixel.

 

An overhead view of Sakrisøya, Norway. Daniel Haussmann. Courtesy of SkyPixel.
An overhead view of Sakrisøya, Norway. Daniel Haussmann. Courtesy of SkyPixel.

 

Volcanic stones and autumn forest in Germany. Eberhard Ehmke. Courtesy of SkyPixel.
Volcanic stones and autumn forest in Germany. Eberhard Ehmke. Courtesy of SkyPixel.

 

Barona Speedway in Lakeside, Calif. Colin Smith. Courtesy of SkyPixel
Barona Speedway in Lakeside, Calif. Colin Smith. Courtesy of SkyPixel

 

Farming in Germany. Eberhard Ehmke. Courtesy of SkyPixel.
Farming in Germany. Eberhard Ehmke. Courtesy of SkyPixel.

 

Shipping containers at a port in Germany. Claudius Paul. Courtesy of SkyPixel
Shipping containers at a port in Germany. Claudius Paul. Courtesy of SkyPixel

 

The Grateful Dead at Soldier Field during Fare Thee Well tour on July 5, 2015  ©2015  David G. Oppenheimer—Performance Impressions. Courtesy of SkyPixel
The Grateful Dead at Soldier Field during Fare Thee Well tour on July 5, 2015 ©2015 David G. Oppenheimer—Performance Impressions. Courtesy of SkyPixel.

 

Algae and geo-thermal landscape at the Volcanic Valley near Rororua, New Zealand. Grant Sheehan. Courtesy of SkyPixel.
Algae and geo-thermal landscape at the Volcanic Valley near Rororua, New Zealand. Grant Sheehan. Courtesy of SkyPixel.

 

In this alternative approach titled "Xmas Tree", Piotr attached lights to a drone during a long exposure photograph. Piotr Parzybok. Courtesy of SkyPixel.
In this alternative approach titled “Xmas Tree”, Piotr attached lights to a drone during a long exposure photograph. Piotr Parzybok. Courtesy of SkyPixel.

 

A maple tree during autumn in Illinois. Stacy Garlington. Courtesy of SkyPixel.
A maple tree during autumn in Illinois. Stacy Garlington. Courtesy of SkyPixel.

 

Fog rolling through Hamilton, Ontario. Chris Ross. Courtesy of SkyPixel.
Fog rolling through Hamilton, Ontario. Chris Ross. Courtesy of SkyPixel.

 

Motobike jam in Phanthiet Muine, Vietnam. Courtesy of SkyPixel.
Motobike jam in Phanthiet Muine, Vietnam. Courtesy of SkyPixel.

 

Woods during autumn in Germany. Eberhard Ehmke. Courtesy of SkyPixel.
Woods during autumn in Germany. Eberhard Ehmke. Courtesy of SkyPixel.

 

An overhead view of the Mengzhuiwan pool in Chengdu, Sichuan province in China. Zhang Zhi. Courtesy of SkyPixel.
An overhead view of the Mengzhuiwan pool in Chengdu, Sichuan province in China. Zhang Zhi. Courtesy of SkyPixel.

 

Elizabeth Ciobanu

I cover breaking news in the drone industry, interview experts in the field to learn from them for myself, and to help spread the love of drones.

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