Photography has been a globally celebrated art form for ages. With Photoshop allowing us to create astonishing images, light filters making our photos pop, and drones letting photography go where we have never seen it go before, the art of the camera will continue to surpass our expectations for years.

A website called Dronestagram holds a contest to celebrate the most outstanding works of photography created with the help of drones. Creative talents from all over the world have submitted their birds-eye-view masterpieces, and the following photos were some of the very best and most incredible of 2018…

1. Rural Ice Hockey In Russia by Maksim Tarasov: In Russia, if the ice rink doesn’t come to you, you have to make the ice rink! This is a lovely display of good old-fashioned fun with a breathtaking backdrop.

Maksim Tarasov/Instagram

2. A Face In The Grain Field, Germany by Photographers World: Is this Grandmother Willow’s husband? We’re not sure if there is simply an ominous storm rushing through this field or if it really does contain a spirit, but we can’t help but be intrigued by this friendly face.

Photographers World/Dronestagram

3. Fishing Boat In Vietnam by Trung Pham: At first glance, you might think you’re looking at a gigantic jellyfish, but it’s actually a fishing net! Fishing is critical to life in Vietnam. Fish are the main protein consumed in the country, as well as being their biggest export.

Trung Pham/Instagram

4. Hon Khoi Salt Field, Vietnam by Trung Pham: Clearly Trung is not only great at capturing Vietnamese agriculture like fishing, but salt fields as well. Every shape and color in this photo make it look so surreal, yet our guess is that this was a completely candid moment.

Trung Pham/Instagram

5. Sheep Herding by Photographers World: Babe the pig must be hard at work again because these sheep are lined up perfectly! Hopefully they are heading towards some less arid land or getting ready for a nice cool shear.

Photographers World/Dronestagram

6. Three Figures In The Jordan Desert by Kolibik: Shadows can create wonderful optical illusions, like these three people who look like a group of Christ The Redeemer statues. While this photo may be staged, its stark contrast and simple but clever imagery make it just as wonderful as any candid one.

Kolibik/Instagram

7. Two Dogs, Two People, and Four Shadows by Qliebin: Similarly to Kobilik’s picture of the three shadows in the desert, this photo plays with the perfect shadows of two very large people and their very large dogs.

Qliebin/500px

8. Creta’s Beach By Matayo: Speaking of pleasing to the eye… these umbrellas are placed in nearly perfect rows, yet the only one that is occupied is what makes this photo shine (along with the beautiful color contrast between the sand and the ocean).

Matayo/Facebook

9. The Best Camping Spot by Balazs3: This title says it all. This looks like the most serene and yet exciting place to camp in the winter (if you enjoy the cold, that is). Technically, this could count as an advanced selfie.

Balazsbusznyak/Instagram

10. Brighton Pier by Luke Maximo Bell: The Brighton Pier is a staple of an English summer. It features several food stands, as well as rides and attractions, and while those are featured in millions of tourist photos, very few people have ever seen the hub from above.

Luke Maximo Bell/Instagram

11. On The Nhu Y River by Tuan Nguyen: These girls in Ao Dai dresses are releasing the floating candles on the river as a spiritual gesture to pray for peace and happiness — a longstanding cultural tradition in Vietnam.

Tuan Nguyen/Dronestagram

12. Shot Over The Infamous Half Desert Road In Dubai by WhoSane: The “Half Desert Road” is colloquially named so due to it crossing half a desert. It’s an incredibly popular spot for photographers for obvious reasons, but after a big sand storm, this photo takes the cake.

13. Canoes In The Singapore Reservoirs by John Wong: Over the past few decades, Singapore has become an increasingly popular spot for tourism, with loads to eat, see, explore, and do… much like this kayaking class! Do you see a smile in this excited group of rowers?

John Wong/Dronestagram

14. A Collapsed Truck In Russia by Drone Nest: When this photographer saw the fallen truck on their way home, they rushed to their drone to capture the moment before it was moved.

Drone Nest/Instagram

15. The Projects In Brooklyn by Sanllacer: Also known as public housing buildings, project areas like these often feature a similar style of architecture. This one stands out due to the buildings’ 90° corners. It’s an impressive block to see from the sidewalk, but even more so from up in the air!

Sanllacer/Dronestagram

16. An Abandoned Water Park In Dubai by Dxbdrone: Ah, the faded glory of what was once a place full of joy… One may think that Dubai is the perfect place to cool off and splash around, but apparently success in the matter is still not guaranteed.

DXB Drone/instagram

17. Bathing Hippos In Tanzania by Zekedrone: “This by far was the highlight of my trip to Tanzania,” the photographer wrote. “A giant hippo party, which was super VIP. But I knew exactly how to get in. Something they couldn’t resist… A game of Hungry Hungry Hippos!”

Zeke Drone/Instagram

18. Color Changes As A Farmer Prepares A Berry Farm In Early Spring Outside Of Peterborough, Ontario by Justen Soule: No this is not Photoshopped! This farmer is spreading fertilizer, so we’re betting this moment looks better than it smells…

Justen Soule/Instagram

19. The Outskirts Of A Town Called Dorothy In Alberta, Canada by Justen Soule: It seems Justen is no stranger to rural areas. This road leading to nowhere gives off a surprisingly optimistic feeling, although we wouldn’t try entering the tall red house.

Justen Soule/Instagram

20. Copacabana Beach, Rio De Janeiro by Americo Vermelho: Did the architect who designed these beachside cafés know that one day a drone photographer would be flying on by? The sharp square roofs, in contrast with the groovy sidewalk, are almost unsettling  — and yet pleasing at the same time.

Americo Vermelho

Snapped by a photographer on foot, this yearly cattle drive follows nearly one million animals as they return to their farms after a summer of grazing in the pastures of the alpine region. Though even with all the commotion surrounding this event, it appears that one driver forgot what day it was…

National Geographic / Bartłomiej Jurecki

2. Best Friends (Soldotna, Alaska): Bear cubs are known for their high energy and love for play, but it seems these little guys seen in Lake Clark National Park would rather kick back, relax, and munch on a little grass. Hopefully, the photographer didn’t mistake the cubs for two cuddly teddy bears and try to take them home!

National Geographic / HEATHER NICOLE

3. Jute Worker (Dhaka, Bangladesh): At first glance, this man appears to be holding the Guinness World Record for the thickest and fluffiest hairdo. But sorry big hair fans: this man is simply lugging a bale of jute, a fibrous plant material used for making rope.

National Geographic / Zakir Hossain Chowdhury

4. Baby Teeth (Tanzania, Africa): Raising kids sure can be a hassle, especially when they start getting bored of the same old games. Luckily, this mama lion of the Serengeti knew exactly what to do when her cubs needed a new chew toy.

National Geographic / Yaron Schmid

5. Unreal (Mojave Desert, California): It’s amazing that this graveyard of Volkswagens and Audis in California actually exists. Following an international scandal concerning inaccurate emissions reports, thousands of vehicles were recalled and dumped in the middle of the desert.

National Geographic / Jassen Todorov

6. Embearassed (Brooke Falls, Alaska): In the midst of fishing during a salmon run, this overeager bear lunged a little too soon and took a tumble down a tiny slope. Thankfully unharmed, he climbed back on the ledge and continued to fish after his fall!

National Geographic /Taylor Thomas Albright

7. The Shepherd from Transylvania (Bran Village, Romania): It turns out that vampires aren’t the only thing that comes from Transylvania. As you can see, Nea DAN, a Carpathian shepherd in the Bran village region, has plenty of sheep – and wool – to go around.

National Geographic / Eduard Gutescu

8. Hungry Hungry Hippos (Tanzania, Africa): While you probably won’t find any white marbles here, you can bet these hippos are still in the mood for a feeding frenzy. Luckily, no one has to risk a hand cramp from slamming down on a bunch of little levers.

National Geographic / Martin Sanchez

9. An Overcrowded Train Journey (Dhaka, Bangladesh): There may not have been enough seats on this train heading for Dhaka, where passengers hoped to celebrate Eid-al-Fitr with their loved ones, but there was plenty of room on the roof!

National Geographic / Noor Ahmed Gelal

10. Enduring Spirit (Garinder, Montana): The American Bison has long been considered a symbol of strength and perseverance, and this photo of a lone one in winter perfectly encapsulates these sentiments. Despite the -15-degree weather and heavy snowfall, this bison confidently treks on.

National Geographic / Derek Jerrell

11. Inquisitive Eyes (Indonesia): A tribal girl’s curiosity is on full display as she stares into the unusual object being pointed at her by the photographer. Is she perhaps imagining the other strange wonders that may lie just beyond the boundaries of her village?

National Geographic / Sanghamitra Sarkar

12. Halfway Home (Lindi, Tanzania): This photo of an elephant half stained by river water was snapped at the halfway point of her journey back to the rest of the herd. The perfect metaphor, wouldn’t you agree?

National Geographic / Cameron Black

13. Aigerim – The Eagle Huntress (Chirhertey, Bayan-Oelgiy, Mongolia): While the tradition of eagle hunting is usually passed down to young men, Aigerim, a young huntress from the Altai Mountain, has proven that women can fly eagles just as well as their hunter counterparts.

National Geographic / Diana Ishii

14. Snowflakes (Biei-cho, Hokkaido, Japan): This photo was taken at Blue Pond in Japan, but something about this scene is eerily reminiscent of the forest from A Nightmare Before Christmas. The pond — frozen over in the winter time — was man made to prevent nearby Mount Tokachi from polluting a river.

National Geographic / Rucca Y Ito

15. Night Statics (Colima, Mexico): It’s one thing to catch an erupting volcano on film, but perfectly capturing the moment when the cold winter air created a static storm around the lava plume is what makes this photo seem truly divine.

National Geographic/ HERNANDO ALONSO RIVERA CERVANTES

16. Uhhs & Ahhs (Anliao, Calabarzon, Philippines): Things looked pretty bleak for this little grouper, but shortly after this photo was taken it managed to wriggle itself free from the lizard fish’s mouth. Unfortunately, the young fish’s relief was short-lived, as a passing snapper quickly gobbled him up.

National Geographic / Lilian Koh

17. Flying At The Crossing (Tanzania):  No, this isn’t a portrait painted by some master artist: it’s just a simple photo of a herd of wildebeests crossing the Mara River. The layering of dust, sun, and shade gives the image an almost unnatural look, and you might have to look a bit longer just to convince yourself it’s real.

National Geographic / Pim Volkers

18. Spa Time! (Africa): The best way to cool down during a summer heat wave? Why a dust bath of course! Coating themselves in the dirt is the best way for elephants to stay cool, and this practice also serves to keep mosquitoes at bay.

National Geographic / Nilesh Shah

19. An Astonishing Chase (Rift Valley, Kenya): This chase actually has a happy ending. Instead of preying upon the gazelle fawn, the cheetah actually started playing with the young deer before setting it free to return to its mother. “Even the animals value the life of other animals,” the photographer wrote.

National Geographic / Thomas Vijayan

20. Mid Shed (Unknown): Anyone in the mood for chameleon chips? Unlike their snake relatives, these tiny reptiles shed their skin in bits as opposed to one long piece. The photographer wanted his picture to capture just how vulnerable a shedding chameleon is. And he isn’t the only photographer that de

National Geographic / Mike Dexter

Photographers often aim to capture all walks of life in their various stages, with a goal to unify and relate our likeness. As this last photographer wanted his picture to capture just how vulnerable a shedding chameleon is. Many other photographers also chose to take a walk on the wild side.

© Burrard Lucas