Views From The Top

A beautiful image of a polar bear leaping across a stream of crystal-clear blue water. A gathering of squalling seagulls above a passing boat. A birds-eye view of a basketball game. These are the winning photos of last year’s SkyPixel’s Best Aerial Photos award.

Sometimes, a photo is more than just a photo. Sometimes, it has a deeper meaning or story attached to it and SkyPixel certainly brings to light some hidden stories. It’s the world’s most popular aerial photography community and relishes in this new type of art. Photography plus droning – who would’ve thought it could have such a global impact?

SkyPixel’s 2017 competition offered photo enthusiasts the opportunity to get up close and personal with aerial art, taking off into the clouds – the newest, greatest way of capturing the unthinkable. The competition, which ran from October to December last year, boasted more than 44,000 submissions from photographers from over 141 countries. The three categories in the competition were Landscape, Portrait and Story.

What do you think when you hear of droning? Do you imagine it is only a hobby taken up by middle-aged men who have nothing else better to do with their time? Do you think of droning as a gaming thing? A sport? Or as a military tool, used for spying on enemies?

With the huge growth in popularity over recent years, drone photography has definitely skyrocketed into people’s hearts and heads. Social media posts and internet blogs have been the predominant ways of showcasing this new craze, with some images going viral.

Droning was first introduced to the world by the US military, who used these nifty little gadgets for military purposes or air attacks. Nowadays, 10 or so years later, the art of droning is used not just by the military, but also by everyday folk as well as professional and amateur photographers. and sometimes for quite ordinary tasks. But returning to art… a perfect example of the new global craze that is taking the internet by storm, and the Grand Prize in SkyPixel’s competition, is French photographer Florian Ledoux’s breath-taking entry, the moment a polar bear jumps across ice in Ninavut, Canada, ‘Above The Polar Bear’. Ledoux used his Phantom Pro 4 to capture this image. Ledoux has won prizes amounting to US$15,095 and has built a worldwide reputation with his art.
As well as the overall winner, there were category winners, but inside each category were sub-groups for other photographers, celebrating Professional, Popular and Enthusiast sections with awards, such as the image of a dancer twirling in a 190-year-old building in Shanghai, to capture a striking reflection of environmental impact.

The winning entries were selected by a panel of esteemed photographers, filmmakers and creative directors, including: Josh Raab, multimedia editor at Time magazine and accomplished head professor at the International Centre of Photography; Pat Kay, award-winning content creator and photographer; and Chris McLennan, international landscape and wildlife photographer.
It’s no surprise that droning has become one of the leading forms of global photography! M2 has the pleasure of presenting these images to you, dear reader, for your viewing gratification, so you can appreciate the world around us through a bird’s-eye lens!

‘Balmoral Ball’ by Petra Leary


‘Free Wheeling’ by Nigel Kwan


‘Above The Polar Bear’ by Florian Ledoux