Skypixel, in partnership with DJI, has announced the winners of its competition marking "The Best Aerial Photos of 2017". This contest is now the largest and most well-known aerial photography contest in the world and brings a range of breath-taking submissions.
These incredible photos are user submitted and with 44,000 submissions from 141 countries across the globe, there were certainly a lot of images to wade through to pick the winners. There are also a lot of stunning images taken with a range of DJI drones.
The Grand Prize was awarded to Florian Ledoux for his remarkable photograph of a polar bear leaping the ice in Canada. For his winning image, this photographer won prizes totalling $15,095 including a DJI Inspire 2.
We've been through the submissions to pick out the winners and impressive nominations from a number of categories.
Above the polar bear
The Grand Prize winner, captured using a Phantom 4 Pro, shows a lone polar bear leaping across the icy landscapes. Photographer Florian Ledoux, captioned his image:
"Dear future generation, I hope we will still be able to see the Arctic wildlife as we do now. It is threatened as the environment is changing. I was able to witness many scenes of wildlife and I can guarantee you this is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Incredible and unique shot above a polar bear in Nunavut, Baffin area during wildlife reportage in Nunavut and Greenland."
The land of the Earth
The first prize for professional photographs in the story category went to this image which is a part of a collection of photos showing the damage industrial waste has done to the landscape. Although showing waves of beautiful colour, these aerial photographs actually demonstrate the damage mankind has done to the world we inhabit.
"The rapid development of human civilization has brought a series of negative effects. The environment is polluted and the ecology is destroyed. At present, the status quo of pollution in the earth is very harsh, forming a staggering "earth 殇"! Mankind must reflect on the triumphant industry development model, truly implement the policy of transforming the development mode and achieve sustainable social and economic development. Face the devastation of the earth, forever scars. Environmental pollution must be managed, otherwise, there will be no complete earth. Without protection of the environment, mankind will perish. Abstract images can instead better express the environmental impact of industrial pollution. Although these industrial pollution-related environments, details and colours can produce an attractive charm, the appearance does not represent the essence of spectacular colourful pictures may be very ugly nature, it is dirty, very evil. Human beings are rich in invention and creativity. They can also create a distinctive visual beauty in the process of industrial pollution and destruction of nature. The author recorded the destroyed land in aerial photography. This group of photos (18) 2017 shot in a mine tailings."
Taken in the skies of China, a number of magnificent photos were snapped by this professional photographer using a DJI Phantom 4 Pro. One of these images shows the rural villages and the hard work that goes into reaping the crop of fruit. This aerial view was chosen as the runner-up in the professional story category. We'd highly recommend checking out the rest of the images too.
The photographer commented:
"Autumn season is the season of harvest, full of golden fruit is the earth's contribution to the hard work of mankind."
The third place for professional story photos went to this image showing Chinese fishermen working in the waters, plying their trade. This image was one of a series of similarly beautiful images captured above the waters.
This aerial photograph was captured at 1,500 feet above the rivers of Iceland. The swooping lines show the beauty of nature and this image is part of a series of equally magnificent snaps with a similar theme. This photo was nominated in the story category and shows the calibre of images appearing in the competition, whether professional, novice or by drone enthusiast.
Anchang town more goods
Another entry from China, submitted by an enthusiast to the story category. This image shows an old town around twisting waterways. This town is known for its produce, but it's now also known for its views. This aerial image is part of a collection captured using the DJI Spark a small but clearly capable drone.
Zeng Xinmin commented about this image:
"Anchang Ancient Town is one of the four famous ancient towns in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province is the first batch of published historical and cultural towns. Was built in the Northern Song Dynasty, after the war, repeatedly burned, and rebuilt in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the architectural style inherits the typical characteristics of Jiangnan Water Village, a water, simple and elegant, its speciality Anchang sausage, or "sauce" The poultry meat, etc. Only you can not think of, there is no Anchang "wax", "sauce" can not. It is the hometown of Shaoxing Master."
Inle Lake fishing show
The first prize in the story category for enthusiasts went to this photographer who captured fishermen on the Inle Lake in Burma. This image highlights the show the fishermen put on for tourists, but actually represents their traditional fishing methods in action. The aerial view taken with the DJI Mavic Pro is certainly something special and likely very different to the view usually seen by people visiting the lake.
"Myanmar's Inu River, the ancient and unique fishing methods, attracting countless tourists to watch, and now has become a show."
The second prize in the story category for enthusiasts was captured with a DJI Phantom 4 and shows the docks of the Yantian District, China. This photo is part of a series of beautiful images of workers caring for the docks and maintaining the surfaces.
The long ride
The third nomination in the story category for enthusiasts pictures a mountain biker having fun in Sweden. The photo is actually the result of a number of different images stitched together to create the end result. This stitching gives the impression of a bending world that stretches off into infinity. We've seen this style before and have to say it's a pretty awesome way to capture drone photographs.
Jesper Guldbrand gives a bit more insight:
"This series is called "Mind bending" and is shot during 2017 in different locations of Sweden. Falun is a great city for mountain biking. This photo shows it. 20 images stitched together. A process that took about 1.5 months."
Woman in the wash
From the shores of Taiwan, this aerial image captures the photographer laying by the edge of the water, the whitewash of the waves blending with her white dress. This brilliant photograph was nominated as a professional image in the portrait category.
The photographer, Bobo, commented about this image:
"This is my Taiwan film, Hualien's coastline is steep cliffs and secluded sea, steep terrain, step by step is the deep sea. I've always wanted a special perspective, so try my best to try that as Mavic flies over the coastline, I find the waves on the coast flashes beautifully between dark grey gravel and turquoise water, dark and light. The contrast was very strong. When the waves fell toward the shore and retreated, they showed a vast and euphemistic shape, reminding me of the tail end of the whale, and finished the work. I pressed the shutter when the spray and the skirt were handed over to make the skirt and the sea wave blend together and have a sense of extension, leaving the work with an attachment and a similar space. With this idea, I shot a series of compositions in different forms continuously. The whole process was very exciting. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day. If it is sunny, the overall color of the works will be even more gorgeous."
This aerial image of the basketball courts of Auckland shows wonderfully contrasting colours and brilliant symmetry from the skies. This image by Petra Leary, won first prize in the professional portrait category.
A lone man is captured diving over the waterfall. This brilliantly timed photo won second place in the professional portrait category and shows a Guinness World Record holder carrying out his passion.
"He is over sixty, he is the world record holder for the Guinness waterfall diving. In China's famous spout of the Yellow River and the great falls of the water tower in Heilongjiang province, he surprised the world with his leap. In the air, his action stretches the beautiful. Freeze the moment of the shock, take this leap into eternity."
From Sardinia, Italy, this aerial image won third prize in the professional portrait category with a simple caption:
"Now you're going to be witness to the rebirth of humanity."
One of the nominated professional portrait photographs captures a lone man wading through the desert sands in the depths of China. The image was submitted with the caption:
"It was shot in the Tengger Desert, an outdoor sportsman walking hard in the desert on foot, with the footsteps of deeper and deeper, will not be caught?"
Lost in the sand dunes
Near the Grand Staircase National monument area in Utah, Marc Lamey snapped this image using a DJI Phantom 4 Pro. The subject of his photo curled up on the warm sands below. The photo was nominated in the professional portrait category and it's easy to see why.
Grab the fall's tail
Another breath-taking aerial photograph captured on the Phantom 4 Pro shows the wonderful reds of the Autumn trees. This colour rich image was chosen as a nominated image in the professional landscape category.
Sun's Up, Nets Out
The first prize in the professional landscape category went to this image by Zay Yar Lin a shows a fisherman on his boat on the waters of Inle Lake. This talented man is not only rowing his boat with his leg, but also managing to catch fish at the same time. A brilliant photograph, well deserving of the prize.
"An Intha fisherman sets up his net to fish as he paddles his boat with a unique leg-rowing technique in Mayanmar’s Inle Lake"
Comet into darkness
In the early hours of the morning, in Newfoundland Canada, a professional drone photographer sent his drone up to see what he could see on the waters. A fishing boat approaching the shore is flocked by seagulls, no doubt trying to snag an easy catch of their own.
This photo was awarded the second prize in the professional landscape photography section.
"One of my favourite shots. An early morning in Newfoundland, I was hiking on the East Coast Trail when I heard a bunch of seagulls. I quickly launched my drone to find-out what was causing the mayhem. It was a small cod fishing boat steaming towards the harbour, a truly magical moment."
Santa Maddalena village, Italy
This incredible photo shows the beautiful green hills and surroundings of Santa Maddalena in Italy. A brilliantly colourful shot of nature made possible by a man-made drone. This image was awarded the third prize in the professional landscape photography of the competition.
The first place for the enthusiast category of portrait photography is this image of a dancer in the centre of an ancient courtyard in Shanghai, China. This brilliantly simple image was captured on a DJI Mavic Pro and clearly caught the judges attention.
"Shanghai's only nearly 190-year-old courtyard house with northern features is rarely seen in the south, where dancers dance not only skirts but also old Shanghai memories"
This aerial image really plays tricks on the eye giving the impression of a cyclist mounting the side of a skyscraper. Nigel Kwan's image was chosen as the second prize winner in the enthusiast portrait category and skillfully captured using a Mavic Pro.
The sun is busy
The third prize in the enthusiast group of portrait photography shows an aerial view of workers drying noodles on various racks. The photographer captioned the image:
"On October 5, 2017, villagers in Xiashi Town, Kaili City, Guizhou Province, were busy drying noodles."
Always have a fancy finish
Martin Sanchez's aerial image was nominated under the enthusiast group of the portrait category. This brilliant image gives a new perspective and makes perfect use of the Mavic Pro's photography capabilities.
The path of camels across the sands
Another nomination for an enthusiast photograph in the landscape category is this image by Abdullah Alnassar. This aerial photo captured using a Phantom 4 Advanced and shows camels crossing through the sand dunes of Saudi Arabia. The shadows of the animals stretch out across the dunes as they make the trek.
This astoundingly beautiful image of the landscapes of Iceland is actually 12 separate images stitched into one. A brilliant panoramic shot of the surroundings with the cloud-covered mountaintops and flowing rivers cutting through the landscape. Nominated as an enthusiast photo for the landscape category, this image is one of two striking images submitted by Olivier.
Baby lobsters breeding farm
Above the waters of Vietnam, Trung Pham captured this image of the lobster farms of the Phu Yen province. The striking colours and mix of man-made materials with nature make for an incredible photograph. The judges thought so too. They awarded the image the first prize in the enthusiast group of the landscape category.
Geometry of liquid gold
The second prize in the enthusiast group of the landscape category was awarded to Javier del Cerro for this aerial snap of the brilliant symmetry of the olive tree groves of Castilla La Mancha, Spain.
Raising ducks by the river
The third prize in the enthusiast group of the landscape category was awarded to this image in the skies above Vietnam showing ducks being raised by the local farmers. A mass of white ducks relax on the peaceful riverways while the farmer works.
This selection of images is just a sample of the entrants into the 2017 competition and show the level of quality and of the submissions. No doubt it's a tough task for the judges to whittle down the entrants to choose the winners for each category.