Let us take you on a fantastic flight of fancy.
These are MailOnline Travel’s pick of the 50 images shortlisted in a contest called #Aerial2020 run by photo app Agora. It asked photographers around the globe to send in their best bird’s-eye shots.
In total, 9,018 photos were submitted, with the competition judges whittling them down to 50 finalists. Agora users were then asked to vote for their favourite and overall winner.
High-flying entries include a mesmerising shot of castle ruins in Austria, a jaw-dropping image of a tiny island off the coast of Spain, a beautiful Barcelona sunset snap and a vertigo-inducing picture taken from cable cars in a Chinese national park.
Octavi Royo, Agora’s CEO & co-founder, said: ‘When you see the world from above, you realise how important that point of view can be. These 50 works of art turn us into birds to admire the planet earth from above.’
Scroll down to feast your eyes on the amazing shots – you’ll find the winning image at the bottom…
Austrian Michael Harding is behind this beautiful image of castle ruins in his home country. He said: ‘This region has so much history and a lot of old castles! This castle was built around 1100AD and I find it really impressive that there is still so much left of this old buildings’
On the left is an amazing image by Italian photographer Matteo Mangano of a tiny island off the coast of the Basque Country in Spain. Matteo said: ‘A tiny island joined to the mainland by a bridge clinging to rocks and stacks – one of the best places I’ve ever visited! That day was super windy. I flew my drone about three kilometres away to get this shot and I was so worried that I would never see it again. Fortunately, it came back and it was definitely worth it.’ On the right is an image by Dutch photographer Sjoerd Bracke. It shows the cable cars inside Zhangjiajie National Park in China. He said: ‘During our ride, it was a misty and cloudy morning, which is why this scenery looks even more mysterious. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we rose above the clouds and this view appeared. I absolutely love the result and the feeling it transmits because when I look at this photo I get this mysterious feeling and wow-effect back immediately’
British photographer Jonny Rogers is behind this charming aerial shot of Budapest he took on a warm summer’s evening
On the left is an aerial shot of Barcelona that was captured at sunset by Spanish photographer Alvaro Valiente. He said: ‘It took me a whole year to get this shot right. I waited patiently for the sun to set in this exact position, so the light creates a path straight to the Sagrada Familia.’ On the right is a jaw-dropping image showing the Central and Western District of Hong Kong that was captured by Jacky Woo, who is based in the city
French photographer William Markezana captured this amazing scene of a crowded Dameisha beach in China. He explained: ‘This is a public beach next to a five-star hotel. The hotel had its own private beach right next to it, which was empty. I was initially interested in capturing that contrast. The crowd density was so high, I had to gain quite a lot of altitude to make it fit in the frame. At that point, those indistinguishable people started to create a pattern that I found even more powerful and fascinating’
On the left is an image by Ester Turri, from Italy, who captured this misty morning on Seceda, an 8,200ft (2,500m) mountain in northern Italy. She said: ‘It was a moody summer morning, just how I like them.’ Pictured right is a serene scene at Lago di Braies in the Italian Dolomites captured by UK-based photographer James Theo. He explained: ‘The Dolomites area is full of picturesque landscapes, and no trip would be complete without a visit to Lago di Braies. I arrived in the hope of a sunset, but that did not happen. Instead, I was greeted with some moody conditions with loads of low clouds. I enjoy shooting in challenging conditions and I was still determined to get some shots of this beautiful place’
This image is called ‘Life on Mars’ and was snapped by Dutch photographer Tom Franklin de Waart in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. Tom said: ‘I wanted to show that our planet has landscapes that look like they are out of this world. 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. We need to take care of nature. Many 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!’
On the left is a mesmerising image by a Spanish photographer, known as @rakia10 on Instagram, of a winding road on Tianmen Mountain, China. Pictured right is an aerial view across a rice terrace in Bali taken by fellow Spanish photographer Carles Alonso. He explained: ‘I had to wake up at 5.30am to take this shot. The early morning light bathing the rice terraces with the two volcanoes in the background made my day’
German snapper Arnold Maisner is shortlisted with this beautiful image of the famous Mont Saint-Michel in France. He said: ‘It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen: it was a cold sunrise, but certainly worth it. On top of the rock, you can see a church overlooking the village of 70 residents. The strongest tides in Europe rule here, with the water going back kilometres’
French photographer Ghislain Fave took this incredible shot of Mount Bromo in Indonesia. He called the image ‘Sunrise on Gunung Bromo’. Ghislain explained: ‘We hiked on the rim of Java’s Mount Bromo before sunrise, in almost pitch darkness, surrounded by rumbling sounds coming from the volcano. As the sun rose, we observed a cloud of smoke coming from a crater and felt suddenly so small in the front of nature. I did this hike with my three-year-old daughter on my shoulders!’
Pictured left is a cloudy scene over central Hong Kong captured by Chinese photographer @jsrpixel. He said: ‘A city without clouds is like a musical without music. I captured this shot during the sea of clouds season, which only happens once a year. One has to wake up super early and keep monitoring the latest weather forecasts for a chance to capture such low clouds floating through the city. Hong Kong is like a magical dream: I want to show the world that this city is not just a cold concrete forest, but a city with a warm, beautiful soul.’ On the right is a stunning image of the IFC building in Hong Kong shot by British photographer Blair Sugarman. He explained: ‘Aligning the sun and the building gives a Lord of The Rings vibe. This is one of the most iconic buildings in Hong Kong, and it looks spectacular at sunset. This is the building that Batman leapt off in The Dark Knight and it has become a recognisable point of interest for this reason’
Photographer Yee Lee, from Malaysia, travelled to the Mojave desert in the United States to take this image of retired aircraft. She called her picture ‘Retired From Service’
On the left is an amazing shot of a surfer riding the waves in Perth, Australia, by Canadian photographer Blake Hobson. The haunting image on the right is by Greek photographer Odysseas Chloridis, who snapped it in Thessaloniki, Greece. He said: ‘I wanted to convey some nostalgia, mystery and of course the grandeur of mother nature. Look at how small the car is in front of the beauty of our Mother Earth’
This night time picture showing the Hong Kong cityscape was snapped by British photographer Lee Mumford
The bizarre image on the left of Whampoa in Hong Kong is by Russian snapper @poletaev.photo. He said: ‘This is one of the weirdest scenes I’ve ever imagined. Yes, it is a shopping centre, but from above it looks like a boat in the middle of countless identical residential blocks [in fact it resembles a boat on the ground, too].’ On the right is an image taken by fellow Russian photographer Mikhail Derevyanov using his drone of rooftops in Barcelona. He said: ‘As a photographer, I love shooting city landscapes. I have always dreamed about seeing the famous architecture of Barcelona and its symmetrical neighbourhoods. 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, 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’
This amazing drone shot was taken by Dutch photographer Mark Curé. It shows the Dutch Pyramid of Austerlitz in Woudenberg, in the Netherlands
Photographer Michelle Wandering, from the Netherlands, snapped this aerial image of a market in Bangkok. She said: ‘Nearby this market was a parking garage. We climbed almost to the top and were amazed by its beauty from above. The lesson to learn from this photo: if you’re in a place to do some photography, don’t just stay at the location itself. Do some research beforehand and look around the area to find unique points of view’
On the left is an aerial image, called ‘Bridge Top Down’, which was snapped by Russian photographer Vitaly Tyuk in the city of Vladivostok. Pictured right is the epic landscape of New Mexico in a shot by British photographer Joel Friend. He said: ‘This has to be one of the highlights of my US trip. Shooting this rock with the drone was pretty epic. I had to fly it directly into the wind for three kilometres to capture this’
The overall winning image, by Dutch photographer Ewold Kooistra. It’s called ‘A Magic Morning in the Netherlands’ and was taken at Zaanse Schans in Zaanstad. He said: ‘I was waiting for a long time to capture this typical Dutch scene with low fog. And finally, on May 10, the weather forecast looked perfect: no wind and low night temperatures are the ideal ingredients for low fog. My alarm went off at 4am to drive to the Zaanse Schans. When I got there, the fog was everywhere except around the windmills. I decided to check first some other spots. After an hour I came back and wow! I had only 50 per cent battery left on my drone and took off to find a unique angle to capture this place. When I looked on my phone to see the drone view it was like a dream!’ As well as earning the title of #Aerial2020 Hero, Ewold also scoops the $1,000 top prize
For more on Agora visit agoraimages.prowly.com.