50 photos taken from above that will make you see the world from a new perspective

‘Overcrowded’ photographed by William Markezana. William Markezana/Agora
  • Free photography app Agora recently held its #Aerial2020 contest.
  • The competition called on photographers to submit their best photos taken from the air, which could depict anything from “bustling city skylines to out-of-this-world natural landscapes,” as Agora’s website notes.
  • More than 9,000 images were submitted in the hopes of winning a $US1,000 prize, according to Agora.
  • Dutch photographer Ewold Kooistra won the contest with his image of windmills surrounded by fog in the Netherlands.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Photographs taken from the air can give viewers a whole new perspective of the world around them.

That’s why Agora, a free photography app, recently held its #Aerial2020 contest, which called on photographers to submit photos they have taken with drones, or with cameras positioned at high points. More than 9,000 images were submitted, showing everything from “bustling city skylines to out-of-this-world natural landscapes,” according to the app.

Recently, Dutch photographer Ewold Kooistra was named the winner of the contest, and took home a $US1,000 prize for his image of windmills in the Netherlands. Here’s a look at his winning photograph, and 49 other finalists.

Winner: “A magic morning in The Netherlands” by Ewold Kooistra

‘A magic morning in The Netherlands’ photographed by Ewold Kooistra. Ewold Kooistra/Agora

Kooistra’s photograph, taken in Zaanstad, Netherlands, won Agora’s #Aerial2020 contest. As a result, he took home a $US1,000 prize.

Speaking to Agora, the photographer said he needed to be patient when taking this image, as weather conditions had to be just right for him to capture low fog on camera. He also had to wake up at 4 a.m., travel to the scene, and wait one hour for the fog to surround the windmills.

“I had only 50% battery left on my drone, and took off to find a unique angle to capture this place,” he said. “When I looked on my phone to see the drone view, it was like a dream!”

“Aerial in Hong Kong” by Jacky Woo

‘Aerial in Hong Kong’ photographed by Jacky Woo. Jacky Woo/Agora

This image of skyscrapers and mountains was taken by Woo above Central and Western District, Hong Kong.

“An inverted diamond” by Martin Lee

‘An inverted diamond’ photographed by Martin Lee. Martin Lee/Agora

Speaking to Agora, Lee said he aimed to capture this diamond-shaped roof “reflecting light in different directions, amidst the busy, central skyline.” He captured the shot in Hong Kong.

“Bangkok market from above” by Michelle Wandering

‘Bangkok market from above’ photographed by Michelle Wandering. Michelle Wandering/Agora

To get this shot in Bangkok, Thailand, Wandering climbed to the top of a parking garage.

“A lesson to learn from this photo: if you’re in a place to do some photography, don’t just stay at the location itself,” she told Agora. “Do some research beforehand and look around the area to find unique points of view.”

“Boats on marina” by Alexey Nikitin

‘Boats on marina’ photographed by Alexey Nikitin. Alexey Nikitin/Agora

Nikitin captured this shot of a packed marina in Agios Nikolaos, a coastal area of the Greek island of Crete.

“Bridge topdown” by Vitaly Tyuk

‘Bridge topdown’ photographed by Vitaly Tyuk. Vitaly Tyuk/Agora

Taken above a bridge, this image was captured by Tyuk in Vladivostok, Russia.

“Chasing waves” by Blake Hobson

‘Chasing waves’ photographed by Blake Hobson. Blake Hobson/Agora

Hobson’s photo shows a surfer paddling away from a crashing wave. The image was taken in Perth, Australia.

“Cold cars” by Perry Wunderlich

‘Cold cars’ photographed by Perry Wunderlich. Perry Wunderlich/Agora

Wunderlich captured his nominated shot in Blintendorf, a city located within the German state Thuringia. It shows a parking lot filled with snow-covered cars.

“Collecting salt” by Jassen Todorov

‘Collecting salt’ photographed by Jassen Todorov. Jassen Todorov/Agora

This image of salt trucks was taken at Great Salt Lake in Utah.

“Crazy road” by Brian TR

‘Crazy road’ photographed by Brian TR. Brian TR/Agora

A photographer who goes by Brian TR captured this shot of a winding road located on Tianmen Mountain in China.

“Desert sunset” by Johan Vandenhecke

‘Desert sunset’ photographed by Johan Vandenhecke. Johan Vandenhecke/Agora

Vandenhecke took this shot in Colombia’s Tatacoa Desert.

“On this ancient rock formation, you can see how drought slowly scraped out these patterns and structures,” he told Agora. “Imagine the time that has been needed to create this, layer by layer. That’s just mind-boggling.”

“Early morning trip” by Mark Curé

‘Early morning trip’ photographed by Mark Curé. Mark Curé/Agora

Curé used a drone to take his nominated photograph, which focuses on the Pyramid of Austerlitz in the Netherlands.

“Exploration trip” by Abdullrahman Bin Madi

‘Exploration trip’ photographed by Abdullrahman Bin Madi. Abdullrahman Bin Madi/Agora

“My brother and I went on an exploration trip to an unknown desert that we had found on Google Maps,” Madi told Agora. “It was a huge, empty hidden gem; a great place to relax, out of the reach of tourists.”

The desert in his photograph is located in Al Ain, a city in the United Arab Emirates.

“Floating in the air!” by Sjoerd Bracke

‘Floating in the air!’ photographed by Sjoerd Bracke. Sjoerd Bracke/Agora

Bracke stumbled upon this cable-car ride in China’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. He told Agora that the weather was misty and cloudy that day, and that he had to put his GoPro camera through a small window to get the shot.

“Fortress of the dragon” by Matteo Mangano

‘Fortress of the dragon’ photographed by Matteo Mangano. Matteo Mangano/Agora

This image was taken in Spain’s Basque Country. While speaking to Agora, Mangano described the location as “one of the best places” he’s ever been.

“That day was super windy; I flew my drone about three kilometers away to get this shot, and I was so worried that I would never see it again,” he said. “Fortunately, it came back and it was definitely worth it.”

“Freight ship inbound” by Chris Taberner

‘Freight ship inbound’ photographed by Chris Taberner. Chris Taberner/Agora

Taberner told Agora that he originally planned to photograph something different on the island of Jersey when he noticed a freight ship approaching. As it turns out, the ship was carrying essential supplies like food to the British isle.

“Globos” by Paola

‘Globos’ photographed by Paola. Paola/Agora

A photographer named Paola captured this breathtaking image of hot-air balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey.

“Going up” by Ester Turri

‘Going up’ photographed by Ester Turri. Ester Turri/Agora

Turri told Agora that it was a “moody summer morning” in Italy when she took her nominated photograph.

“Lego Technic” by Diego Izquierdo Lemus

‘Lego Technic’ photographed by Diego Izquierdo Lemus. Diego Izquierdo Lemus/Agora

Speaking to the photography app, Lemus said he aimed to “confuse the viewer” into thinking they were looking at a real car when looking at his image, which was taken in Granada, Spain.

“Life on Mars” by Tom Franklin de Waart

‘Life on Mars’ photographed by Tom Franklin de Waart. Tom Franklin de Waart/Agora

“I wanted to show that our planet has landscapes that look like they are out of this world,” Franklin de Waart said about his photograph, which was taken at Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. “We don’t need to go to Mars to find these kinds of landscapes.”

“Like in most of my photos, I want to make people realise we can find beauty on this planet,” he continued. “We need to take care of nature – lots of times you see that when a location gets popular, tourists overcrowd the place and basically ruin it. If you decide to visit these kinds of places, just leave nothing but footprints!”

“Like a chess” by Mikhail Derevyanov

‘Like a chess’ photographed by Mikhail Derevyanov. Mikhail Derevyanov/Agora

In Barcelona, Spain, Derevyanov photographed these geometric buildings using a drone.

“Over the years I’ve seen a lot of aerial photos of the city, so I thought I had an idea of what was awaiting me,” he told Agora. “But when I flew my drone to see it for myself, it just caught my breath. Barcelona is truly an amazing place that is unlike anywhere else.”

“Lost in the city” by Sergei Poletaev

‘Lost in the city’ photographed by Sergei Poletaev. Sergei Poletaev/Agora

Though Poletaev’s photograph seemingly shows a boat in the middle of skyscrapers, the ship-like building is actually a shopping centre in Hong Kong.

“Magical mood” by Arnold Maisner

‘Magical mood’ photographed by Arnold Maisner. Arnold Maisner/Agora

Speaking to Agora, Maisner described the tidal islet of Mont-Saint-Michel, between Brittany and Normandy in France, as “one of the most beautiful places” he’s ever seen.

“It was a cold sunrise, but certainly worth it,” he said of the day he took his nominated photograph.

“Men’s toys” by Pavel Tokarev

‘Men’s toys’ photographed by Pavel Tokarev. Pavel Tokarev/Agora

Tokarev’s photograph shows the Nikola-Lenivets Art Park in Russia.

“I accidentally flew above this art piece under construction, which from above looked like a bunch of boys’ toys,” the photographer told Agora.

“Mood in the Mountains” by James Theo

‘Mood in the Mountains’ photographed by James Theo. James Theo/Agora

Theo’s nominated image features the Dolomites mountain range in Italy. He originally visited the location to photograph a sunset, but instead “was greeted with some moody conditions and loads of low clouds,” as he told Agora.

“I enjoy shooting in challenging conditions, and I was still determined to get some shots of this beautiful place,” he said.

“Norway road trip” by Corinna Jüptner and Marcus Jasak

‘Norway road trip’ photographed by Corinna Jüptner and Marcus Jasak. Corinna Jüptner/Marcus Jasak/Agora

The photographers told Agora that they came across this scene while driving through Norway on an “exhausting and cold rainy day.”

“We stayed for a while, drank tea, read a book, and took pictures,” they said. “This picture was long gone in a folder, but somehow a few months ago we had a different feeling when looking at it and were fascinated. I was glad that we went through all the old photos again; maybe we wouldn’t have paid so much attention otherwise.”

“Old castle ruins in Upper Austria” by Michael Harding

‘Old castle ruins in Upper Austria’ photographed by Michael Harding. Michael Harding/Agora

Harding captured this shot in Austria, and told Agora that he’s impressed by how old this structure and others near the location are.

“One of the most amazing sunsets in Barcelona” by Alvaro Valiente

‘One of the most amazing sunsets in Barcelona’ photographed by Alvaro Valiente. Alvaro Valiente/Agora

“It took me a whole year to get this shot right,” Valiente told Agora about his photograph, which was taken in Barcelona, Spain.

“I waited patiently for the sun to set in this exact position, so the lights create a path straight to the Sagrada Familia,” he said.

“Overcrowded” by William Markezana

‘Overcrowded’ photographed by William Markezana. William Markezana/Agora

Markezana’s photograph shows the Dameisha beach in China as it was packed with visitors. He intended on showing an adjacent beach with no visitors for contrast, but eventually decided to focus on this one location.

“The crowd density was so high, I had to gain quite a lot of altitude to make it fit in the frame,” he told Agora. “At that point, those indistinguishable people started to create a pattern that I found even more powerful and fascinating.”

“Patterns of Death Valley” by Matt Cannon

‘Patterns of Death Valley’ photographed by Matt Cannon. Matt Cannon/Agora

Cannon told Agora that he woke up early to take this photograph, as the temperature in California’s Mojave Desert can soar above 120 degrees.

“I wanted to convey the beauty and scale of this unique location,” he said.

“Pindi Bypass” by Talha Arshad

‘Pindi Bypass’ photographed by Talha Arshad. Talha Arshad/Agora

Arshad’s photograph depicts the winding Pindi Bypass in Pakistan.

“Racing the tide to safety” by Luke Simpson

‘Racing the tide to safety’ photographed by Luke Simpson. Luke Simpson/Agora

Simpson photographed this colourful beach from a lighthouse named Sandy Cape Light on Australia’s Fraser Island.

“Real Lego” by Ruslan Ataev

‘Real Lego’ photographed by Ruslan Ataev. Ruslan Ataev/Agora

Ataev told Agora that he came across this group of cars, which he said were “competing in a tuning festival,” in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

“When I flew my drone and saw them from above, they all looked like toy cars in a playground,” he said.

“Retired from service” by YeeLee

‘Retired from service’ photographed by YeeLee. YeeLee/Agora

A photographer who goes by YeeLee captured this shot of planes in California’s Kern County.

“Rice paradise” by Carles Alonso

‘Rice paradise’ photographed by Carles Alonso. Carles Alonso/Agora

“I had to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to take this shot,” Alonso told Agora about his nominated image, which was taken in Bali. “The early morning light bathing the rice terraces with the two volcanoes in the background made my day.”

“Road in Winter” by Katharina Imhof

‘Road in Winter’ photographed by Katharina Imhof. Katharina Imhof/Agora

Imhof said it was a cold day in Allgäu, Germany, when she captured this shot.

“A lot of people around the world have never experienced snow, so I wanted to show them the beauty of winter through my photo,” she told Agora.

“Singing dune” by Artem Pikalov

‘Singing dune’ photographed by Artem Pikalov. Artem Pikalov/Agora

Pikalov photographed this sandy dune at Kazakhstan’s Altyn Emel National Park. Speaking to Agora, the photographer said his image captures the “boiling heat” of the day he shot it.

“Ski Jumper” by Konrad Paruch

‘Ski Jumper’ photographed by Konrad Paruch. Konrad Paruch/Agora

For his nominated image, Paruch captured a skier mid-air in Zakopane, Poland.

“Humans have dreamed of being able to fly for centuries, and ski jumpers make that dream a reality – even though it’s only for few seconds,” he told Agora. “The picture was taken during training, a day before the international ski-jumping championship.”

“Sunrise on Gunung Bromo” by Ghislain Fave

‘Sunrise on Gunung Bromo’ photographed by Ghislain Fave. Ghislain Fave/Agora

Speaking to Agora, Fave said he hiked the rim of Indonesia’s Mount Bromo in nearly pitch-black darkness, all while “surrounded by rumbling sounds coming from the volcano,” to capture this shot.

“As the sun rose, we observed a cloud of smoke coming from a crater and suddenly felt so small in front of nature,” he added. “I did this hike with my three-year-old daughter on my shoulders!”

“The dreamscape” by John

‘The dreamscape’ photographed by John. John /Agora

A photographer named John captured this Hong Kong scene “super early” in the morning.

“Hong Kong is like a magical dream,” he told Agora. “I want to show the world that this city is not just a cold, concrete forest, but a city with a warm, beautiful soul.”

“The Eye of Sarumon” by Blair Sugarman

‘The Eye of Sarumon’ photographed by Blair Sugarman. Blair Sugarman/Agora

Sugarman’s nominated photograph focuses on Hong Kong’s International Finance Centre. The photographer told Agora that the building “looks spectacular at sunset.”

“The road back home” by Odysseas Chloridis

‘The road back home’ photographed by Odysseas Chloridis. Odysseas Chloridis/Agora

“I wanted to convey some nostalgia, mystery, and of course the grandeur of mother nature,” Chloridis told Agora about his featured photo, which was taken in Thessaloniki, Greece. “Look at how small the car is in front of the beauty of our Mother Earth.”

“The road north” by Jon Cleave

‘The road north’ photographed by Jon Cleave. Jon Cleave/Agora

Cleave told Agora that he captured this shot in Iceland during a “calm-before-the-storm moment.” He went on to say that he’d “never seen the weather change so instantly” before, but that the experience was “incredible” and “keeps you on your toes.”

“The rock in the middle of nowhere” by Joel Friend

‘The rock in the middle of nowhere’ photographed by Joel Friend. Joel Friend/Agora

According to Friend, visiting and photographing New Mexico was “one of the highlights” of his trip to the United States.

“Shooting this rock with a drone was pretty epic,” he told Agora. “I had to fly it directly into the wind for three kilometers to capture this.”

“Vibrant Hong Kong” by Lee Mumford

‘Vibrant Hong Kong’ photographed by Lee Mumford. Lee Mumford/Agora

Mumford photographed this stunning view of skyscrapers in Hong Kong.

“Warm summer evening in Budapest” by Jonny Rogers

‘Warm summer evening in Budapest’ photographed by Jonny Rogers. Jonny Rogers/Agora

The Hungarian Parliament Building appears to be glowing on the banks of the Danube River in this photo taken in Budapest.

“Whales” by Simon Pastor

‘Whales’ photographed by Simon Pastor. Simon Pastor/Agora

Pastor told Agora that he spotted this whale and its calf while flying his drone in Australia.

“Who doesn’t love train trips?” by Andrei Druta

‘Who doesn’t love train trips?’ photographed by Andrei Druta. Andrei Druta/Agora

Druta told Agora that he spent three hours outside the Landwasser Viaduct in Filisur, Switzerland, to capture this shot.

“It is one of my favourite places to shoot breathtaking moments,” the photographer said. “It makes me reflect on the journey of life.”

“Wind farm” by Henry Do

‘Wind farm’ photographed by Henry Do. Henry Do/Agora

Do told Agora that he photographed this scene in Denmark, and used the sailboat in the left corner to show how large the adjacent windmills are.

“World’s best airport” by Jordi Sark

‘World’s best airport’ photographed by Jordi Sark. Jordi Sark/Agora

Sark’s eye-catching photo taken inside Singapore Changi Airport highlights its 130-foot-tall waterfall that’s said to be the largest indoor waterfall in the world.