This article was originally published on VisualChase
Not too long ago, flying robots with cameras might have sounded futuristic. But now, you can buy them literally everywhere. The sudden availability of drones has encouraged photographers to get more and more creative. Using these flying devices, they are able to capture powerful and disturbing photos we could never see from the ground. Here are some fascinating drone photos you won't be able to look away from!
Extreme River Diving
Most of us have no desire to dive off a cliff. That's because we're sane! You never know if you're about to hit some sharp rocks, and the fall itself is terrifying. But there are those out there who live for the thrills and seek adventure. Here, a drone captured the moment when a Guinness record holder decided to jump over a waterfall at China’s Yellow River. Look at him go!
Talk about courage. And we're not even talking about his red speedo! The fall probably only lasted a few seconds, but that's enough for an adrenaline junkie. To them, it's being alive!
The Vanuatu Volcano
When we think about volcanoes, hot lava comes to mind. The closest we've ever come to one is probably a science fair experiment with baking soda and vinegar. But there actually are a number of active volcanoes today, and they get busy on occasion. Here, a drone caught an eruption on one of the remote islands of Vanuatu in the Pacific. It looks like someone is wearing special gear and trying to get closer. Are they nuts?
With the availability of drone tech, there is no need to get anywhere close to that pit of magma. We are really enjoying this pic from afar, though!
Sharks in the Maldives
The Maldives are a group of islands off the coast of India. It is the place to be if you want to swim with sharks: It is home to over 25 species, and Grey Reef, Black-Tip, White-Tip sharks are the most common. If you've been craving that rush in the sea, consider a visit. Look at this fellow, enjoying himself! A drone captured his joy, but we are a little worried.
Presumably, his guide told him these are a non-threatening variety. But if they do decide to take a bite, he's pretty vulnerable. We wouldn't want to see that pic, that's for sure.
Lightning Over Kuala Lumpur
We never, ever want to get close to a lightning bolt like the residents of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia did here. According to National Geographic: "About 2,000 people are killed worldwide by lightning each year. Hundreds more survive strikes but suffer from a variety of lasting symptoms, including memory loss, dizziness, weakness, numbness, and other life-altering ailments. Strikes can cause cardiac arrest and severe burns, but 9 of every 10 people survive."
This drone shot is spectacular, no doubt. We love it as a photo, and it actually won awards online. Still, it must have been terrifying to witness at the time.
Perverts Also Use Drones
The idea of a flying camera that can buzz around sounds cool — until you realize the implications. Why would someone not peer into your window? We say it's only a matter of time, if it isn't going on already. Drones are a peeper's dream, and we're not sure what to do about it. Take this innocent sunbathing girl, for example. While she was topless and tanning, she discovered she was being filmed. Yikes!
As we can see, the drone captured her running after it with a stick. She's piping mad, and we don't blame her for that. Is a little peace and sunshine too much to ask?
Heavy Rains in Brazil
Brazil is home to the Amazon rainforest, and we know it rains there quite a bit. But outside of the trees, rain can cause a lot of trouble for people. This is a drone shot from above after the damage done in the Rio das Velhas overflow in early 2022. Located in the Minas Gerais region, a state of emergency was called due to intense downpours and landslides. Did everyone escape in time?
17,000 Brazilians were affected by the destruction, and sadly, 10 people died. Here, we can see the mess of mattresses, clutter, and an overturned car. This was no ordinary storm!
Escaped Inmate on Google
In the movies, we always see criminals with a spoon in their cell, slowly digging a tunnel for their escape. Usually, this doesn't work. But in real life, there are occasional breakouts. Do the inmates get far? With cameras literally everywhere these days, it's hard to imagine they do. Here, a drone that was flying around to document google earth caught this fellow in the act. But hey, it was worth a try!
The question is, did google rat him out? We don't know, but since their images are totally public, the warden might have just used it himself.
Wildfires In Washington State
Every once in a while, mother nature gets hot and angry. Forest fires are a fact of the world and can be sparked from lightning or lit cigarettes. Once things get flaming, it's hard to stop. Here, we see an aerial view of the Douglas Okanogan Fire District 15 in Washington. They are in an annual course for their qualification cards, training for the worst-case scenario. How are they doing?
Thanks to this drone shot, we know they're doing just fine. With new recruits and veteran firefighters cooperating side by side, the real deal will be manageable.
This Is Kazakhstan
Most people don't know very much about the central Asian nation of Kazakhstan. Perhaps they saw Borat, but the government claimed that comedian Sacha Baron Cohen really misrepresented their culture. We still don't know enough about this place, but a drone photo showing the beach at the Kapchagay reservoir in the Almaty region is pretty intriguing. Drone photographer Alexandr Vlassyuk really captured a chilly, yet warm moment.
He explained: "The air temperature on that day was -10 degrees Celsius; for our region and season it could be said warm, and so, without waiting for summer, we decided to open the beach season!".
Orca Munches Shark
We all saw Free Willy and thought that orcas were lovable performers, somewhere in the sea. In reality, they are incredibly dangerous and often kill their own trainers. They're nicknamed killer whales for a reason! In the wild, they can defeat any predator. Here a drone shows us their instincts in action off the California coast. It didn't turn out well for this broadnose sevengill shark, to say the least.
According to the photographer, this whale was part of a group of 25 swimming around Monterey Bay. Now, there's one less shark by the beach.
Virus Toll in Mexico
Here, we see an aerial view of the San Miguel Xico Cemetery. Officials opened a new section at beginning of the pandemic, expecting a need for more graves. They were right, sadly. Here, we can see the plots slowly filling up, each decorated by a grieving family. Looking at the toll is pretty scary from the sky! Drones show us a new view of our lives, for better or for worse.
And it's not just the common folks who are being affected there. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador recnetly tested poisitive for the virus a second time in just one year. Hopefully, he will be okay!
Brazilian Singer Dies in Crash
Brazilian Singer Marilia Mendonca was beloved in her home country. She had hits on the radio for years, and no one thought her career was about to end. But end it did, in a horrific crash in 2021. Here, we see the airplane that carried the singer with the four more passengers. It landed in a river, and everyone perished. Marilia was just 26 years old at the time. So very sad!
At the time, Marília had concerts scheduled and more than 40 million followers on Instagram. Fans still visit the page to leave heart emojis and mourn her death. It's still pretty fresh in their minds!
Oil Train Derails and Burns
Oil is the source of most of our modern energy. It is a long process to get the black stuff out of the ground and into cars, though. You need to transport it, and one way that is done is via train. Usually, that works out just fine. But every once in a while, accidents happen. Here, we see a train derailed in Washington state, and it was carrying flammable crude oil. Uh oh!
Seven tank cars derailed, a spark lit up, and it was a total disaster. Residents in the area definitely had to evacuate for their safety. Shocking stuff, even from above!
Worst Australian Drought
Farmers in Australia really struggled with a drought in 2019. Here, we see farmer Richard Gillham try to feed his sheep near a lagoon in New South Wales. But everything is dried up, dead, and inhospitable to mammals. Where is the grass? Clearly, it's nowhere to be found, and Richard was forced to spend $1,000 a day to feed his animals with kibble. From above it looks like a desert!
The government unveiled an emergency plan to try to set up new water infrastructure for the region soon after. We hope this flock is doing better, by now. This was the most severe Aussie drought on record, ever!
Mount Kilauea Eruption
Ah, the paradise of Hawaii. Did you know that former President Obama, Emma Stone, Beyonce, Julia Roberts, and even Oprah have homes there? A lot of celebs live in the 50th American state, though not full-time. Maybe that's because life is occasionally interrupted by volcanic eruptions. The authorities have a pretty good idea of when the activity is going to begin, and they evacuate residents in time. But when people are gone, drones capture the chaos.
From above, we see Mount Kilauea in full meltdown mode. The lava oozes out of the earth and burns everything in its path. 1,500 people had to flee!
House Explosion in the UK
House fires are scary enough. But house explosions? That's the stuff of nightmares. A mother of two named Jessica smelled the stench of gas in her home. Then, she made a terrible mistake. She shares: "I just went to the oven. I can't really remember if it was ignited or not, but I went to turn the dial... and it just blew up straight away...It was so instant, I didn't have time to do anything differently. As soon as I turned it, it just blew up and threw me to the floor."
Here, a drone captured a view of the village in the aftermath of the event. Three were injured, and Jessica got burned and went into a coma temporarily. Remarkably, that's all that happened!
Whale Death Spiral
Whales are the biggest animals in the world, and we don't often see them in real life. They're just too big to hang out with us! Sadly, when we do find them near us on land, they are in big trouble. This gray whale washed up on Pacifica State Beach in 2019, and unfortunately, there was nothing to be done. This wasn't the one in the area, either. It was actually the 10th one that year in the Bay area. What was the cause?
Scientists investigated and found that four died of malnutrition and four more were killed by ship hits. Two were undetermined. The drone shot is sad, no matter the cause.
Twister Ravages Georgia
Tornados are not just a phenomenon in the center of the USA. Places like Kansas have the reputation for a lot of them, but even Georgia sees its share of swirling devil winds. According to National Geographic: "Every year in the United States, tornadoes do about 400 million dollars in damage and kill about 70 people on average. Extremely high winds tear homes and businesses apart. Winds can also destroy bridges, flip trains, send cars and trucks flying, tear the bark off trees, and suck all the water from a riverbed."
Here in the town of Newnan, an aerial view shows us the result of a twister in 2021. A tree was completely uprooted and slammed on the roof of this house. Hopefully, everyone was in the basement!
Dubai is a place in the United Arab Emirates that has been getting a lot of buzz in recent years. It has gold bar ATM machines and luxury everywhere you go. Half a century ago, it was covered in sand. Now, it's full of modern skyscrapers! The city is a delight if you're a drone photographer: This winning shot of downtown Dubai by Bachir Moukarzel won awards online, and it's clear to see why.
From up above, we can see the tall buildings from the perspective of a bird. Thanks to drones with fancy lenses, urban landscapes are getting a second look. And maybe a third, and a fourth!
Deadly Green Outbreak
Residents of Clear Lake, California were advised not to swim in the local water when it turned bright green. Why the new color? Well, it's all due to the abundance of blue-green algae, otherwise known as cyanobacteria. Although it is beautiful as a drone shot from above, it is a lot less pretty when you see the effects on the human body. The type that popped up this time released high levels of dangerous toxins, causing everything from nausea to irritation to tingling toes.
Thousands of people in the area relied on purified water from this lake. Even boiling will not make this stuff safe though, and it's a constant challenge for the water treatment plants. It sure looks pretty, though!
Cruise Ships Junked in Pandemic
During the pandemic, businesses large and small had to shut down. Either government ordered them closed, or they just didn't have the customers to operate. One major area of the economy that suffered was travel. Here, we see several cruise ships from above in a drone shot. Why are they all floating at a Turkish recycling port? Well, because that's what they are going to be soon: Recycled material. They're being junked, due to bankruptcy!
Five luxury ships were broken down to use for scrap metal. We usually see people selling old cars that don't work, not perfect vessels. This year, there were a lot of unfortunate firsts!
Wrestling in Kolkata
Kolkata, India was probably only known to the world as the site of Mother Theresa's sad orphanage scenes. It seemed very poor and hopeless, and we haven't heard much about it since. But look here! These are traditional wrestlers in the city who train near the flower market early every morning. They are called pehlwans, and they spend four hours exercising, stretching, and wrestling. A drone caught them in action!
According to photographer Amitava Chandra: "On a holiday when the market is fully closed, a make-shift ring has been arranged on a narrow lane of the busiest business zone. A full-fledged tournament is on and the spectators including hundreds of market employees, are enjoying the matches in full tempo from some informal galleries. This was captured from the attic of an old high-rise structure to have a bird’s eye view.”
Manta Rays at the Beach
Sharks and eels are terrifying enough for human swimmers. But if you still don't fear sea monsters, just wait until you see this drone shot. Here, two gals are peacefully chilling at the beach. Ahead, there are two rays waiting for them and lurking in the shallows in plain view. Should they enter the water, we are afraid of what might happen. Steve Irwin was killed by one, wasn't he?
No, no. We misremembered: That was a stingray. Mantas are actually quite nice. They don't even have a stinger to stab you on their tail. Thus, it's not in their name!
Wild Lion From Above
The king of the jungle is usually lying around on the savannah. His queen, the lady lion, is the one who goes out and hunts. Regardless of prowl or nap, we stay far away from these big cats. It's okay to admire lions, but they are deadly if they don't know you. One wildlife photographer decided to use a drone to get up close and personal with his subject, here.
It seems the ferocious feline has noticed the device buzzing around above her head. She peers up at it, curious and cautious. We would be too, if we never saw one before!
Croc Eats Piggy
In America, we have alligators. On the African continent, they have the much bigger and meaner cousin: The crocodile. Here, we see a specimen of the species swimming in the river with a fresh catch. Why, it's a whole pig! We love bacon, and we shouldn't be surprised to learn we're not alone. Crocs love to lurk near human settlements and sneak snacks. Sometimes, they run away with dogs, too!
At this point, there is no hope for the prey. Pigs can swim too, but they not going to outswim a croc even it escapes those powerful jaws. Bye bye, Babe!
Please Stay Home
During the pandemic, Australia was notorious for the strictest measures around. They stood in contrast to countries like Sweden that decided on a laid-back approach. Did citizens of the outback prefer the former or the latter? There were probably a mix of opinions, like everywhere. But here, we can see at least one Aussie had a message about the virus. The phrase 'stay home' is etched into the beach!
A drone captured the view permanently. That's good, since we think the waves are about to make it temporary. The tide comes in and out, every single day, virus or not!
Notre-Dame De Paris Fire
One of the most recognizable landmarks in all of Europe was the church of Notre Dame, a cathedral that stood for centuries in the middle of Paris. The world was horrified to suddenly see it in flames in 2019. Significant aspects of the structure were damaged, roofs collapsed, and people cried. The government raised funds and pledged to rebuild, but that is expected to take decades. Sacré bleu, we say!
During the blaze, a number of citizens sent their private drones up in the air to capture the incident on film. Here, we see a photo from above. It's incredible, in a bad way!
Tornadoes Destroy Kentucky
Tornadoes are truly the stuff of nightmares. Things are better when those storms hit in the movies: In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy was transported to a strange and magical land full of song. In Kentucky, people didn't go anywhere. They just hid from the storm and emerged to see this damage. With the help of a drone photo, we can see the extent of the mess, and it doesn't look pretty.
This is a recent photo from December, 2021. With so much chaos going on in the world, you may not have even known this occurred. But multiple twisters ripped through the midwest, killing 80 Americans!
Social Distancing Hearts
The corona pandemic caused many governments to take restrictive measures. Many demanded that you totally stay home. But in some places, there was merely encouragement to stay away from others, in case they were sick. At Bristol Park in the UK, the municipality decided to create these hearts for picnic-goers to approximate the correct distance outside. The idea is, stay within the outline and you will be safe. Did it work?
It's hard to say now, but the data will be in someday. In the meantime, just enjoy this drone shot from above. The design is kind of clever, isn't it?
Fans After Winning Brasileirao
No one loves soccer quite as much as Brazilians. Over there, they call it futbol, but the game is the same. If you have any doubt about it, take a look at this drone shot of fans of team Atlético Mineiro pouring into the street after winning the Brasileirao in 2021. The sheer number of bodies here blocks traffic from all sides. If you joined this crowd, give up on a bathroom break. There's no escape once you're in!
Americans remain confused about why the world loves this sport so much. The USA is busy with baseball, basketball, and NFL football. Plus, what's the big deal about three goals in a game?
A Bird's Eye View
If you could choose to be an animal, which one would it be? Many of us probably envy birds, who get to fly high in the sky. Besides the occasional plane trip, we don't get to see their experience up there. But now, with drone technology. we can get a whole lot closer. This hawk decided to fly close to the device, possibly to take as prey. Hey, why not?
Well, it didn't work. The drone can zoom around at the command of its master on the ground. It can flash its camera, too, for a stunning effect. It's no passive pigeon!
Barcelona Church From Above
Behold, the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It's an incredible feat of architecture in Spain with a Romanesque exterior and a large statue of Jesus on top. He is surrounded by other statues, on the lower walls. But clearly, he's the star of the show. But regular attendees don't get to see him so personally, on a daily basis. Only a drone allows that, and we think this shot is magical.
The design was started by the Spanish architect Enric Sagnier and finished by his son, Josep Maria Sagnier i Vidal. The construction took almost 60 years to complete, but it was worth it. Don't you agree?
Iowa Farmland After Storm
Iowa is known for its corn and kindness, and it does live up to the stereotype. But do you know that ut sometimes has terrible storms? This drone photo from above grain silos shows just how wild and windy it can get. The shot is from the town of Malcom, but Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said that around 10 million acres were damaged. That's around 1/3 of their crop land!
Thankfully, this level of destruction doesn't happen too often. As a leader in agriculture, they produce a lot of our corn, soybeans, and hogs. Americans want a steady supply, rain or shine!
LA Bobcat Fire Burns
In recent years, we've been hearing a lot about wildfires in California. The sunshine state has just constantly been on fire, and there are different theories why. This is an aerial view of one big blaze called the Bobcat Fire, which happened east of Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Mountains. The neighborhood here is clouded in smoke, and it doesn't look pleasant. Would you guess that 2.3 million acres burned in the state in 2020?
Famously, celebs were forced to evacuate their mansions as fires spread to them, too. No one is safe once old, dry wood is hit by a lit cig. Maybe they should clear that out more often?
After the Storm
The UK is known to be a cloudy place. Locals are pretty excited whenever it's sunny, and they try to make the most of the rays. They are well aware that rain and storm will return soon enough. Occasionally, the English weather can get dangerous, as seen here. A drone was flying around and captured this tree that has fallen in the middle of the road. Police are clearing it and trying to minimize the disruption. But it's so big!
It's a good thing they became aware of the tree before an ambulance gets stuck. We never want roads to be blocked for too long. Mother nature, what are you thinking?
Mexican Rock Jumper
Mazatlán is a resort town in Mexico with sandy beaches, a renowned boardwalk, and big-game fishing. It has 19th-century architecture against a tropical backdrop. We've been hoping to go down there! Apparently, it is also a place daredevils like to go rock jumping, as seen here in a drone photo. This fellow is falling into the clear blue water with his arms extended, soon to be a big, satisfying splash.
We have to say this looks like a lot of fun. But this doesn't seem like a place for novice jumpers. Beginners should try the diving board. Better safe than sorry!
Honduras Gets Flooded
In 2020, Central America was hit hard by mother nature. The nation of Honduras in particular was unlucky enough to get hit by not one, but two major storms. The destruction was a sight to see after Hurricane Eta and Iota unleashed floods in the poor neighborhoods of San Pedro Sula. Deadly landslides and destruction followed. 94 Hondurans died in the mess, and around 100 more died in the region.
Here, a shot from above shows the extent of the flooding. We are not sure if these folks had homeowners insurance. We bet they didn't, and this looks like a total loss!
The corona crisis was felt around the world, without a doubt. Different countries tried different strategies, but all saw a lot of sad endings. A drone has captured a view of a gravesite in Vila Formosa Cemetery in Sao Paulo, the largest in Latin America. As you see, all are empty. By this point in the pandemic, officials were already expecting a lot of excess deaths. In no time, these will be filled!
This site in particular saw an increase of 50% in its burials. From the photo, we can see that in a whole new way. It's sad, and that happened worldwide!
6.6 Magnitude Quake in Turkey
If you don't live on a fault line, you may never have to deal with an earthquake of any kind. But those who always have that worry in the back of their mind, When will the next disaster strike, and how bad? In Turkey's Izmir Province, people experienced a 6.6 magnitude quake on the Richter scale. That's pretty significant, in terms of shaking. Twenty-four people died, and more than eight hundred were injured. Ouch!
What's more, around twenty buildings were destroyed Turkey's third-largest city. Here, drone photographer Burak Kara captured the rubble from above. Looks like the event was pretty intense. We're glad we were nowhere near it!
Rio De Janeiro Statue
The city of Rio de Janeiro is famous for its sunny beaches and Carnivale parties. It's also the site of a lovely landmark if you're religious, secular, or anything in between. The Christ the Redeemer statue is a giant figure of stone towering over the city. It's incredible from the ground. But have you ever seen it from up above? If not, it's time for a new perspective. A drone perspective!
Seeing the gigantic Jesus from above, we can see what he sees on a daily basis: Trees, buildings, and visitors by his feet. If we didn't have flying cameras, we might not know. But now, we can't unknow!