The World From Above: The Beauty Of Aerial Photography

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Aerial photography offers a drastically different perspective than the one you get from shooting on the ground. It includes photographs taken from aircraft, helicopters, balloons, rockets, kites, skydives, etc. It can be a rewarding, challenging and enriching experience. It can produce unique shots that look different than any other ground shot you have ever taken. Scenic flights can give you some great, memorable photos.

Below, we present over 50 amazing aerial photographs — photos shot “from above”, in the air. At the bottom of this post you’ll also find references to DIY-tutorials and further useful information about aerial photography. You can also explore other works of the photographers we’ve featured in the links at the bottom.

You may be interested in the following related posts:

Aerial Photography

Petrenko
Moscow, Russia. A winter shot from an airplane.

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Jason Hawkes

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Carlos Gutierrez
“Lightning bolts appear above and around the Chaiten volcano as seen from Chana, some 30 kms (19 miles) north of the volcano, as it began its first eruption in thousands of years, in southern Chile May 2, 2008. Cases of electrical storms breaking out directly above erupting volcanoes are well documented, although scientists differ on what causes them. Picture taken May 2, 2008.”

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doncon402

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George Steinmetz
China from above.

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Evan Leeson

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MNkiteman

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Laurent Malbecq

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michi.p

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David McNew
“A firefighting airtanker drops Phos-Check fire retardant over the Gap fire as more than 1,000 wildfires continue burning across about 680 square miles of central and northern California, on July 3, 2008 near Goleta, California”.

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Unknown
Passing The Golden Gate Bridge.

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Bret Oliver
Burj Dubai construction.

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Andrew Strain
“Dave Fortin goes big at the 2007 Grouse Mountain Showdown Over the City, high above Vancouver, British Columbia.”

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Joshua Longbrake

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George Steinmetz
“A breathtaking view from the top of Golden Gate Bridge reveals the span far below where it enters Marin County.”

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ZaksterNT
Night view of St.Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney

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David Maisel

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Unknown
“A competitor dives from the 14 meter-high bridge over Drina river during annual high diving competition in Bosnian town of Visegrad July 12, 2008. ”

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NASA’s Terra Satelite
Glacial lakes from retreating glaciers. “A firefighting airtanker drops Phos-Check fire retardant over the Gap fire as more than 1,000 wildfires continue burning across about 680 square miles of central and northern California, on July 3, 2008 near Goleta, California”.

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Vincent Laforet

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Unknown

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Yann Arthus-Bertrand
The portfolio contains literally hundreds of photos of over 100 countries shot from above.

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blondepowers

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AFP
“An aerial photograph captures the plume of ashes spewed by the Chaiten volcano in Chile, on May 31″.

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AFP
“This September 10 image, taken by the crew of the International Space Station flying 220 statute miles above Earth, shows Hurricane Ike”.

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Aurora Borealis as seen from space

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Mark Tantrum
Beautiful Singapore when the sun rises

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Franck
HDR shot of Shanghai, China

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Astronaut photography
China from above.

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Sam Abeil
“Clouds above Crater Lake, Oregon”.

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Unknown
“Built in 1931, the Hidden Lake Lookout sits 6890′ above the sea. It was an active fire lookout until the 1950′s. Now it is beautifully maintained by the Friends of Hidden Lake Lookout in Mt. Vernon, WA.”

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Farl
Archipelago of Sulu

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Bblan72
Zion National Park in Utah, United States

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Coolskipper
Mountains of Siberia

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Alex S. Maclean

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Drhundertwasser
Crops above the Great Plains, USA

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Hhardwiredindustries
Meandering river of northern Alberta

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Ron Niebrugge
Aerial view of Copper River Delta, Chugach National Forest, Cordova, Alaska

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Last Click

Unknown
New York From Above. Mid 1930s.

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Unknown
“NASA Astronaut Robert L. Stewart Floats Above Cloudy Earth During an Untethered Extravehicular Activity (EVA) , February 1984″.

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Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Heart in Voh, New Caledonia.

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What makes aerial photography so challenging?

Without any doubt, aerial photography is a challenging art. Aerial photographers have to tackle many problems while shooting in the air. Photographers must deal with the effects produced by motion — not only the motion of an airplane or helicopter, but motion of the camera as well. Photographers should be equipped with cameras that have very fast shutter speeds to avoid hand shakes (motion blur) caused by airplane and helicopter vibration. Because airplane windows are made of Plexiglass, which doesn’t have the same optical qualities as normal glass, images taken through them are of inferior quality.

Also, shooting through aircraft windows presents other obstacles, such as having to shoot around your neighbor’s arm. But it can also result in some interesting images. Aerial photography totally depends on a photographer’s judgment and experience to predict and capture the proper moment. Also, being a form of outdoor photography, aerial photography depends for its success largely on the environment. Therefore, a basic understanding of the atmosphere and its effects on photography is necessary for successful aerial images. As with all outdoor photography, the aerial photographer depends on the sun to illuminate the subject. And haze further reduces contrast levels in high-altitude shots.

In many ways, aerial photography is both more and less complex than other kinds of photography. However, the skill and techniques needed to obtain good results are easily learned through careful observation and good judgment.

Further Resources

Further articles and related resources:

Related Posts

You may be interested in the following related posts:

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Vailancio Rodrigues is a web ninja who bakes semantic muffins. Apart from that he is also interested in Motion Graphics, Visual Effects, Photography and knows little bit of Physics due to his college education . He is from Goa - a beautiful tropical paradise in India.

  1. 1

    Wow. this is cool…
    I’ve seen an open air exhibition of Yan Arthus Bertrand, and it was impressive!
    - http://www.yannarthusbertrand.org/v2/yab_us.htm

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  2. 2

    Amazing list, keep them coming!
    I’m hoping to see ‘flexible’ looking artwork sometime soon!

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  3. 3

    amazing… another world… so high

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  4. 4

    Always a pleasure to see so many cool pics of the world from such a high angle! Keep them coming SM!!!

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  5. 5

    Wow very nice :O

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  6. 6

    Nice collection.. Some of them just really stunning with a amazing angle & view. Thanks for shearing !!

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  7. 7

    Love this collection SM! Keep them coming.

    The boats in the harbour are especially eye catching.

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  8. 8

    BeantownDesign.com

    December 21, 2008 3:40 pm

    Wow, sick!

    My favorites are the shadows, the boats, and the snowboarder. Great post!

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  9. 9

    this is so cool !

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  10. 10

    I really like the beauty of.. photography series..

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  11. 11

    How about Adriel Heisey, or William Garnett or George Gerster or Mary Meander or Marilyn Bridges…..

    You missed some of the best shooters in the world…….

    Nice collection but some gaping holes there.

    Cameron Davidson

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  12. 12

    powerful!..that’s how i can describe these shots..nice!

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  15. 15

    Wonderful photos! Many more of such photos can be found in Alex McLeans new book “Over: The American Landscape at the Tipping Point “. Here is a review (german). Website: http://www.alexmaclean.com/

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  16. 16

    A my my mazing!! I hope I can try that some day

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  17. 17

    AWESOME!

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  18. 18

    These pictures are just awesome!!!!!! :)

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  19. 19

    Gorgeous pictures! Some of them are absolutely amazing!

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  20. 20

    very sweet submission today … one of the better collections i’ve seen from SM.

    i like the directly overhead shots the most … partly because they reveal a most interesting version of our world, and partly because they’re amongst the hardest to capture.

    thanks for sharing.

    cheers

    david
    http://www.davidsmeaton.com

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  21. 21

    Hi

    Awesome gallery… I usually practise aerial photography and it’s a challenge on each flight… Without stabilized lenses, no chances !

    You can see some of my photos here (my region : the Champagne, in France ^_^)
    Champagne Ardenne from the sky

    And certainly my most stranger arial image !

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  22. 22

    This doens’t make much sense:

    NASA’s Terra Satelite
    Glacial lakes from retreating glaciers. “A firefighting airtanker drops Phos-Check fire retardant over the Gap fire as more than 1,000 wildfires continue burning across about 680 square miles of central and northern California, on July 3, 2008 near Goleta, California”.

    Great post btw!

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  23. 23

    wow ..
    its really great photos sets ..
    keep continued add like this content..

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  24. 24

    Fantastic.

    Great post.

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  25. 25

    This is awesome!!!

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  26. 26

    Very nice pictures. Love the ones from George Steinmetz. Especially the one of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is breathtaking. Two thumbs up.

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  27. 27

    heather van de mark

    December 22, 2008 8:40 am

    what a beautiful world. great inspiration.

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  28. 28

    Wow. These are beautiful shots and inspiring. With all the crime, horror and hate in the world these are really refreshing and show how really beautiful this world is, and can be!

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  29. 29

    To see this makes my day so much better and makes me relax, It´s like all the trouble in the world just vanishes away

    Thank you very much for making my day more brighter :)

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  31. 31

    Thank you very much for showing us beautiful photos…
    They really touch my heart.

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  34. 34

    amazing photos! :o you can take a look at that photos to http://www.neregetalietuva.lt/nuotraukos.php?page=2 this is from aerial photography album “neregeta lietuva”

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  36. 36

    stunning.. thanks for this inspiring collection! I so appreciate the effort you put into these incredible posts.

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  37. 37

    Wow…Coo00000000000000ol………..

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  38. 38

    love it. Awesome collection.

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  39. 39

    Typo –
    NASA’s Terra Satelite
    Glacial lakes from retreating glaciers. “A firefighting airtanker drops Phos-Check fire retardant over the Gap fire as more than 1,000 wildfires continue burning across about 680 square miles of central and northern California, on July 3, 2008 near Goleta, California”.

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  40. 40

    The B&W photos of the DC-4 over New York is a famous photo by Margaret Bourke-White. See here:

    http://www.gallerym.com/work.cfm?ID=99

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  41. 41

    Sorry to disappoint everyone, but my photo (the snowboarder) doesn’t fit the criteria of this list… I was firmly planted on the ground for that shot.

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  42. 42

    For some reason my feet were cold after spotting the photo of Golden Gate Bridge taken by George Steinmetz. I couldn’t imagine how he managed himself on taking that shot.

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  43. 43

    Nice selection. Thank you.

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  44. 44

    Wow! Incredible pictures, I like all of them. They give a new perspective toward our world, make me think of respect and esteem.

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  45. 45

    The one with the boats is my favourite. <:3

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  46. 46

    Anders Buch-Jepsen

    December 27, 2008 11:04 am

    Awesome. Love all of them, however, some of my favourites are missing. They are by the Danish aerial photographer Jan Kofod Winther. Unfortunately the site is only available in Danish, but some of his works – primarily from Scandinavia – are displayed in the gallery. Check them out!

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  47. 47

    “In many ways, aerial photography is both more and less complex than other kinds of photography.” Thank you for that insight, now I understand completely.

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  48. 48

    Amazing photographs to watch.

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  49. 49

    Thanks for sharing with us these gorgeous pictures !

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  50. 50

    BEYOND CATEGORY!!!!!!

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  51. 51

    An abosolute visual treat! AWESOME PHOTOGRAPHY!!!

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  52. 52

    Wow these shots are amazing! really wish i could do that!

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  53. 53

    Reminds me of National Geographic’s Earth from Above

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  54. 54

    This is simply AWESOME. wow.

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  55. 55

    Bill DeMaestre, Orinda, CA Jan.6,2009

    January 6, 2009 1:07 pm

    WHAT A GREAT BIG BEAUTIFUL PLANET WE LIVE ON. NOW WE HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF IT TO KEEP IT THIS WAY…..THANKS FOR THE THRILL.

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  56. 57

    that is some of the most beautiful and calming photography i have ever seen!

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  57. 58

    Muhamamd Shahid Akram

    January 15, 2009 9:05 pm

    Woow……totally mind blowing photography

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  58. 59

    so nice pictures,i cant believe we have such wonderful nature ..please dont cut it any more..thanks

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  59. 60

    Hello. I’m Bblan7 and you have posted one of my aerial photos here in this article. I just wanted to say thank you. Your article is well written and very informative. The aerial photos are all so breathtaking. I’m honored to be included with them.

    Best Regards,

    Bonnie

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  60. 61

    totally awesome
    thanks for the amazing pictures

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  61. 62

    Absolutely awesome. Thankyou for sharing

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  62. 63

    I would suggest to visit http://www.flyfoto.lt as well – some really nice picture there.

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  63. 64

    RICARDO GARRIDO

    May 18, 2009 11:00 pm

    THIS SITE ROCK´S !!
    I DO AEREAL PHOTOGRAPHY IN MEXICO.

    WANNA CHECK OUT MEXICO FROM ABOVE??

    http://fotoaereamexico.com/

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  64. 65

    Your ‘unknown’ of the San Francisco bridge and WW2 fighter is probably Philip Makanna http://www.ghosts.com
    Regards
    Neill W

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  65. 66

    Thanks for choosing my photo, i’m honored to have been included in such an awesome collection!

    - drhundertwasser

    my airborne collection:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/drhundertwasser/sets/72057594049604759/

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  66. 67

    this is some impressive photography! thanks for sharing

    i wanted to point out though that the building on the 18th picture now is called Burj Khalifa

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  67. 68

    Swiss Photographer

    March 6, 2010 11:57 am

    Great collection. Why no images by Steven Maisel, Cameron Davidson or Adriel Heisey? These guys are incredible aerial photographers!

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  68. 69

    very good,perfect

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  69. 70

    very nice.thank you for beautiful fhotos

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  70. 71

    Hi Im looking for a book for my girlfriends Christmas present (up to $200ish NZ) with amazing photos like this web site… she already has “the earth from the air” (?) one does anybody know of a similar book?of animals, landscape, people, places …

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