Amazing Winners of the 2016 International Drone Photography Contest

The first social network dedicated to aerial photography, Dronestagram, has teamed up yet again with National Geographic to bring us the 3rd annual International Drone Photography Contest. More than 6,000 images were submitted worldwide, from both talented professional photographers and amateur drone enthusiasts. After much deliberation, the judges chose three winners for each category: Travel, Nature/Wildlife, and Sports/Adventure. In an interview, Dronestagram co-founder Guillaume Jarret spoke about the judges' evaluation by explaining the basic requirement for consideration and recognition. “A good drone photo is a picture that you immediately identify as a drone photo,” he told International Business Times. “It is taken at a low altitude, near the target of the picture, and you must see on the picture that it is impossible it has been taken with another device than a drone. Drones can capture images in places that are impossible to reach with another flying device.”

The winning photographs are all at once awe-inspiring and visually lyrical—images of clouds as they surf the skies like waves; the serpentine curve cut into a mountain by a single snowboarder; the accordion-like chain of camels' shadows projected onto a beach. But the photos also show us how small we are in the world. They show us the patterns of our everyday lives that are impossible to view from the ground. Drone technology allows photographers such as Michael Bernholdt (1st Prize Winner of the Nature/Wildlife category) to turn the satellite lines etched on Google Maps into technicolor digital snapshots. Viewers and photographers alike are privileged for a moment to look down on Earth from a bird's-eye view. For a moment, we're ungrounded. For a moment, we fly.

Sponsors including National Geographic, Go Pro, and 3D Robotics, offered up amazing prizes (which can be viewed in full detail on Dronestagram's website), awarded to the winning photographs seen below.

Above photo: 1st Prize Winner – Category Travel: Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Umbria, Italy by fcattuto

1st Prize Winner – Category Nature Wildlife: Kalbyris Forest Denmark by Mbernholdt

1st Prize Winner – Category Sports Adventure: Moab Rock Climbing by Maxseigal

2nd Prize Winner – Category Sports Adventure: Complejo Acuático Norte de Santander by losmanesdeldrone

2nd Prize Winner – Category Travel: Cable Beach by Todd Kennedy

3rd Prize Winner – Category Travel: Summer camp of Gran Canaria by Karolis Janulis

2nd Prize Winner – Category Nature Wildlife: Swarm of sheep by Szabolcs Ignacz

3rd Prize Winner – Category Nature Wildlife: Piton de la Fournaise, Volcano by Jonathan Payet

3rd Prize Winner – Category Sports Adventure: Chugach Mountain Range, Alaska by High Angle Shot

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