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Oh, to be a bird. What would you give to become a Dickcissel or Great Tit for a day, flying over fields of lavender in Province, the remote wilderness of Transylvania, or the passing icebergs off the coast of Greenland? It’s not happening, until we get our jetpacks or unless we evolve and start growing feathers, but thanks to the winning entries of an annual drone photography award, at least we can all dream while enjoying the views.

Organised through social media by Dronestagram, people from over 50 countries entered the comp, which is now four years old. Categories included nature, people, urban and creativity, so amateur and professional drone enthusiasts all over the world had plenty of scope when planning their shots.

In total, over 8,000 snaps were submitted, but a panel of experts chose the 12 best in our photo gallery above. Read the captions here for the stories behind the winning photos in each category.

Winner, Nature Category. “Summer Trim” in Provence, France by Jerome Courtial.
“I went to Valensole hoping to get an original picture rather than the classic view with the sunset in the background. I knew this was the beginning of the harvest season, so I hunted down tractors and waited patiently until some started to harvest in a pattern that would create a pleasing composition from above. I just had to start the drone engine and capture the photo against really strong wind. I thought I would have had a nice picture in the day, but I had no idea this one in particular would be so well received. My girlfriend was with me and I must thank her for her patience as we waited quite a long time to find the perfect spot. It has now become my favourite picture ever taken.”

Winner, Urban Category. “Concrete Jungle” by Bachir Moukarzel.
“This picture was shot at sunset in Dubai. Trying to capture an area which was literally a desert 10 years back and has now became a concrete jungle with the highest buildings in Dubai.”

Winner, People Category. “End of the Line” by Martin Sanchez.
“It was a Saturday afternoon in April, just before sunset. Earlier in the day, I had my batteries fully charged and decided to drive down the New Jersey coast. It was great, because the beaches were empty and the coast was clear. The day was fair with the sun peeking here and there. After a full day of exploring and shooting the coast, I was tired and hadn’t had anything to eat. All I had was the fuel of some good iced coffee. It was time to finish up, so I drove through town to get back on the main highway. While driving, I noticed an empty tennis court that just stood out like a treasured story in a book of empty words. First thing that came into my mind was, I couldn’t finish the day without some visual drone art. I usually don’t do these unless the surface canvas is what I am looking for. I had a battery at 50%, which was enough. Had this idea of shooting this particular performance a while back, but never found the time or place. This was perfect. After a few takes things got a little weird. Two people came by to play some tennis on the other court. Which no one can disagree is a normal thing to do on a tennis court. As they got closer they had no idea what was happening on my end. They seemed very confused watching me just lay on the ground and make weird holding positions. They didn’t know whether to play or call for help. When I was all done, I showed them the final result and both of them said ‘Ohhhh!’ ”

Winner, Creativity Category. “Next Level” by Thibault Beguet.
“This picture was captured on a Normandy beach with my girlfriend, Manon. We look forward to a happy event (a baby) and look for a fun, original and unusual way to announce it to our loved ones, family and friends. So I had the idea of this picture – Manon and myself creating a baby, represented by an old pram and like a video game. We love Normandy, the sea, and outdoor activities, so we choose to shoot on the beach there.”

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