What does our planet look like from the sky?
This year’s Drone Photo Awards winning images captured a breathtakingly spectacular view of the world. From the height above, a field of bright green grass in Vietnam looks like faux fur – and a frozen reservoir in Kazakhstan resembles shards of broken glass.
The awards, in their fourth year, have received entries from 105 countries and 2,900 professional and amateur photographers, said Luca Venturi, contest founder and art director of Siena Awards, a group based in Siena, Italy, that organizes the international photo competitions
The availability of cheaper and better drones over the past few years has helped popularize this style, especially among amateurs, he said. Ken Geiger, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and one of this year’s judges for the awards. Not only is drone photography “fun,” he added, “it’s a form of expression that helps us learn things about our planet that we didn’t know before.”
The contest is open to all types of aerial photography, not only taken by drones but also blimps, kites, parachutes, helicopters and even hot air balloons.
Here is a selection of contest winners and reputable mentions around the world, including the lower-income countries covered by Goats and Soda. There’s photorealism – and it’s also staged scenes that capture the pandemic times we live in.
The trees revealed their true colors
Trung Pham Huy
Photographer Pham Huy Trung called his “Fishing in the Mangrove Forest,” taken in Vietnam’s Hue province, “a balance between people and nature.”
A former engineer, Trung said he is practical when he uses drones to take pictures, always checking wind and fog levels before setting out because both can affect picture quality. His real goal, he said, is to find moments when a person “feels stillness in the universe, inside and out.”
Scales and color play a big role in this picture. “The white color of the forest shows how wonderful nature is, while the red color of the fisherman’s clothing represents the beauty of the people, “Trung said.” Small and big, red and white – there are many more things to do [in harmony] together in life. “
Sunset – on ice
In the photo “Beach Season,” taken at a reservoir in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Alexandr Vlassyuk is both photographer and subject – a work he says is no small feat. He runs the drone while posing with his friend on ice hummocks at a temperature of 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Both are almost naked. Oh, and windy, he added.
“The hunt has become difficult,” said Vlassyuk, an advertising photographer with a passion for landscapes. “I took a series of shots with two drones. The batteries were low. In order not to freeze, we had to warm up ourselves.”
Geiger said he liked the concept. “It’s just so high that I can’t help but vote for it. It makes me smile.” And the “pop of people and color” amid the broken ice, he said, “creates a strong entry point” for viewers.
MD Tanveer Hassan Rohan
MD Tanveer Hassan Rohan, a freelance photographer from New York, always tried to take pictures from the highest place possible – before the picture of drones arrived. “I’m trying to find a place where I can see the place from above,” like a rooftop, he says. “It allows me to really see that location.”
When commercial drones became available, he said, he knew he needed to have one. “I try to avoid gatherings where a lot of photographers are flying drones. Sometimes I go to unknown places and fly my drone from a safe location to see what I can find.”
One of those places is the yard of a chili factory in Bogura, Bangladesh, a little over 100 miles from where Rohan grew up in Dhaka. Her photo “Red Chiles Harvesting” captures two rows of women sitting under umbrellas as they are arranged on a carpet of bright red peppers to dry and preserve.
Other winners in heaven and praise