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

Petrenko5
Moscow, Russia. A winter shot from an airplane.

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Jason Hawkes7

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Carlos Gutierrez10
“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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doncon40212

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George Steinmetz15
China from above.

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Evan Leeson18

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MNkiteman20

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Laurent Malbecq22

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michi.p27

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David McNew29
“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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Unknown31
Passing The Golden Gate Bridge.

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Bret Oliver33
Burj Dubai construction.

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Andrew Strain35
“Dave Fortin goes big at the 2007 Grouse Mountain Showdown Over the City, high above Vancouver, British Columbia.”

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Joshua Longbrake37

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George Steinmetz39
“A breathtaking view from the top of Golden Gate Bridge reveals the span far below where it enters Marin County.”

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ZaksterNT41
Night view of St.Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney

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David Maisel43

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Unknown48
“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 Satelite50
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 Laforet52

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Unknown58

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Yann Arthus-Bertrand60
The portfolio contains literally hundreds of photos of over 100 countries shot from above.

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blondepowers68

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AFP70
“An aerial photograph captures the plume of ashes spewed by the Chaiten volcano in Chile, on May 31″.

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AFP72
“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 space74

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Mark Tantrum76
Beautiful Singapore when the sun rises

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Franck 78
HDR shot of Shanghai, China

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Astronaut photography80
China from above.

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Sam Abeil84
“Clouds above Crater Lake, Oregon”.

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Unknown86
“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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Farl88
Archipelago of Sulu

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Bblan7290
Zion National Park in Utah, United States

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Coolskipper92
Mountains of Siberia

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Alex S. Maclean94

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Drhundertwasser98
Crops above the Great Plains, USA

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Hhardwiredindustries100
Meandering river of northern Alberta

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Ron Niebrugge102
Aerial view of Copper River Delta, Chugach National Forest, Cordova, Alaska

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Last Click

Unknown104
New York From Above. Mid 1930s.

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Unknown107
“NASA Astronaut Robert L. Stewart Floats Above Cloudy Earth During an Untethered Extravehicular Activity (EVA) , February 1984″.

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Yann Arthus-Bertrand109
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:

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/30/50-beautiful-examples-of-reflections-photography/
  2. 2 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/16/beautiful-examples-of-tilt-shift-photography/
  3. 3 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/02/when-time-freezes-50-beautiful-examples-of-freeze-photography/
  4. 4 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/08/24/45-beautiful-motion-blur-photos/
  5. 5 http://photoblog.petrenko.cc/category/my-photos/
  6. 6 http://photoblog.petrenko.cc/my-photos/moscow-winter-life/
  7. 7 http://www.jasonhawkes.com/
  8. 8 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/08/london_from_above_at_night.html
  9. 9 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/08/london_from_above_at_night.html
  10. 10 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/12/the_year_2008_in_photographs_p.html
  11. 11 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/12/the_year_2008_in_photographs_p.html
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  15. 15 http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/05/china/aerials/steinmetz-photography
  16. 16 http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/05/china/aerials/steinmetz-photography
  17. 17 http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/05/china/aerials/steinmetz-photography
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  29. 29 http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue0808/flammable-california.html
  30. 30 http://www.digitaljournalist.org/issue0808/flammable-california.html
  31. 31 http://incredimazing.com/page/Passing_the_Golden_Gate_Bridge
  32. 32 http://incredimazing.com/page/Passing_the_Golden_Gate_Bridge
  33. 33 http://www.flickr.com/people/87504328@N00/
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  35. 35 http://www.andrewstrain.com
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  37. 37 http://www.thelongbrake.com/blog/
  38. 38 http://weheartit.com/entry/84032
  39. 39 http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/places/enlarge/sanfrancisco-golden-gate-bridge.html#
  40. 40 http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/places/enlarge/sanfrancisco-golden-gate-bridge.html#
  41. 41 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zakster/
  42. 42 http://www.flickr.com/photos/70107352@N00/429101997/
  43. 43 http://www.davidmaisel.com/works/works.asp
  44. 44 http://www.davidmaisel.com/works/works.asp
  45. 45 http://www.davidmaisel.com/works/works.asp
  46. 46 http://www.davidmaisel.com/works/picture.asp?cat=obl&tl=oblivion
  47. 47 http://www.davidmaisel.com/works/picture.asp?cat=ter&tl=terminal%20mirage
  48. 48 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/12/2008_the_year_in_photographs_p.html
  49. 49 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/12/2008_the_year_in_photographs_p.html
  50. 50 http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view_rec.php?id=2876
  51. 51 http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view_rec.php?id=2876
  52. 52 http://laforetvisuals.com/main.php
  53. 53 http://laforetvisuals.com/main.php
  54. 54 http://laforetvisuals.com/main.php
  55. 55 http://laforetvisuals.com/main.php
  56. 56 http://laforetvisuals.com/main.php
  57. 57 http://laforetvisuals.com/main.php
  58. 58 http://www.hyd-masti.com/2008/12/exceptionally-beautiful-photographs.html
  59. 59 http://www.hyd-masti.com/2008/12/exceptionally-beautiful-photographs.html
  60. 60 http://www.yannarthusbertrand2.org/
  61. 61 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/10/earth_from_above_comes_to_nyc.html
  62. 62 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/10/earth_from_above_comes_to_nyc.html
  63. 63 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/10/earth_from_above_comes_to_nyc.html
  64. 64 http://files.kavefish.com/pictures/collections/pictures_from_the_sky/_index-list.html
  65. 65 http://files.kavefish.com/pictures/collections/pictures_from_the_sky/_index-list.html
  66. 66 http://files.kavefish.com/pictures/collections/pictures_from_the_sky/_index-list.html
  67. 67 http://www.yannarthusbertrand2.org/
  68. 68 http://flickr.com/people/blondepowers/
  69. 69 http://flickr.com/photos/blondepowers/2333912584/
  70. 70 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/pictures-of-the-year/3813200/Pictures-of-the-year-natural-disasters.html?image=1
  71. 71 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/pictures-of-the-year/3813200/Pictures-of-the-year-natural-disasters.html?image=1
  72. 72 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/pictures-of-the-year/3813200/Pictures-of-the-year-natural-disasters.html?image=10
  73. 73 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/pictures-of-the-year/3813200/Pictures-of-the-year-natural-disasters.html?image=10
  74. 74 http://tivac.com/images/backgrounds/AuroraBorealis.jpg
  75. 75 http://tivac.com/images/backgrounds/AuroraBorealis.jpg
  76. 76 http://jpgmag.com/people/MarkTantrum
  77. 77 http://jpgmag.com/photos/296330
  78. 78 http://flickr.com/photos/92706698@N00/
  79. 79 http://flickr.com/photos/92706698@N00/537350642/
  80. 80 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/06/the_sky_from_above.html
  81. 81 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/06/the_sky_from_above.html
  82. 82 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/06/the_sky_from_above.html
  83. 83 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/06/the_sky_from_above.html
  84. 84 http://science.nationalgeographic.com/staticfiles/NGS/Shared/StaticFiles/Science/Images/Content/crater-lake-clouds-110168-xl.jpg
  85. 85 http://science.nationalgeographic.com/staticfiles/NGS/Shared/StaticFiles/Science/Images/Content/crater-lake-clouds-110168-xl.jpg
  86. 86 http://pixdaus.com/single.php?id=32964
  87. 87 http://pixdaus.com/single.php?id=32964
  88. 88 http://www.flickr.com/photos/colloidfarl/
  89. 89 http://www.flickr.com/photos/colloidfarl/2680613741/
  90. 90 http://www.flickr.com/photos/curiouserandcuriouser/
  91. 91 http://www.flickr.com/photos/7976232@N02/2303109439/
  92. 92 http://www.flickr.com/photos/coolskipper/
  93. 93 http://www.flickr.com/photos/14694825@N00/74376348/
  94. 94 http://www.alexmaclean.com
  95. 95 http://www.alexmaclean.com
  96. 96 http://www.alexmaclean.com
  97. 97 http://www.alexmaclean.com
  98. 98 http://www.flickr.com/photos/91501815@N00/
  99. 99 http://www.flickr.com/photos/91501815@N00/1867512182/
  100. 100 http://www.flickr.com/photos/north49/
  101. 101 http://www.flickr.com/photos/north49/2893021069/
  102. 102 http://www.wildnatureimages.com/Biography.htm
  103. 103 http://www.wildnatureimages.com/Copper_River_Delta_Photos.htm
  104. 104 http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5010
  105. 105 http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5010
  106. 106 http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5010
  107. 107 http://pixdaus.com/single.php?id=45562
  108. 108 http://pixdaus.com/single.php?id=45562
  109. 109 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27704649/displaymode/1107/s/2/framenumber/6/
  110. 110 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27704649/displaymode/1107/s/2/framenumber/6/
  111. 111 http://photojojo.com/content/diy/diy-aerial-balloon-photography/
  112. 112 http://photojojo.com/content/diy/diy-aerial-balloon-photography/
  113. 113 http://www.cheapshooter.com/2008/08/26/do-it-yourself-pole-aerial-photography/
  114. 114 http://www.gentles.milestonenet.co.uk/KAP/Pencam/pencam.htm
  115. 115 http://www.prelovac.com/vladimir/pretty-blue-planet
  116. 116 http://www.lunacore.com/photoshop/tutorials/tut016.htm
  117. 117 http://www.yannarthusbertrand2.org/
  118. 118 http://www.photojpl.com/tour/08ballon/08ballon.html
  119. 119 http://www.gillesvidal.com/blogpano/cockpit1.htm
  120. 120 http://flickr.com/groups/aviewfromabove/pool/
  121. 121 http://flickr.com/groups/aerials/pool/
  122. 122 http://flickr.com/groups/from_above/pool/
  123. 123 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/06/09/beautiful-black-and-white-photography/
  124. 124 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/03/10/35-fantastic-hdr-pictures/
  125. 125 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/30/50-beautiful-examples-of-reflections-photography/
  126. 126 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/04/28/really-stunning-pictures-and-photos/
  127. 127 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/16/beautiful-examples-of-tilt-shift-photography/
  128. 128 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/07/14/let-there-be-light-light-paintings-and-sculptures/
  129. 129 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/08/24/45-beautiful-motion-blur-photos/
  130. 130 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/09/07/35-brilliant-examples-of-rain-photography/
  131. 131 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/10/19/25-beautiful-examples-of-underwater-photography/
  132. 132 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/02/when-time-freezes-50-beautiful-examples-of-freeze-photography/

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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.

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  1. 1

    An abosolute visual treat! AWESOME PHOTOGRAPHY!!!

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  2. 52

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

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  3. 103

    Reminds me of National Geographic’s Earth from Above

    0
  4. 154

    This is simply AWESOME. wow.

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  5. 205

    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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  6. 307

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

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  7. 358

    Muhamamd Shahid Akram

    January 15, 2009 9:05 pm

    Woow……totally mind blowing photography

    0
  8. 409

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

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  9. 460

    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

    0
  10. 511

    totally awesome
    thanks for the amazing pictures

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  11. 562

    Absolutely awesome. Thankyou for sharing

    0
  12. 613

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

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  13. 664

    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/

    0
  14. 715

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

    0
  15. 766

    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/

    0
  16. 817

    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

    0
  17. 868

    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!

    0
  18. 919

    very good,perfect

    0
  19. 970

    very nice.thank you for beautiful fhotos

    0
  20. 1021

    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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