These could be the 9 best drone images you see all year

Imagine an Instagram that’s just for drone photos. Got it? Good, because that’s what Dronestagram is all about. Now, imagine that all the best photos from Dronestagram get put into one place, and you have the International Drone Photography contest.

Hosted by Dronestagram, the international contest welcomed entries in three categories, through the month of June: travel, adventure and sports, and nature and wildlife. The panel of judges, which happens to include National Geographic’s Patrick Witty and Emanuela Ascoli, just released the winners in each category, and they’re nothing short of spectacular.

The winners all had interesting stories in how they captured their shots. Michael Bernholdt, the first-place winner in the nature and wildlife category, spent hours on Google Maps before his first dedicated photography trip with his Phantom 3 Professional, looking for interesting shapes and planning out shots.

In the adventure and sports category, Max Seigel was shooting with some friends in the desert when he spotted a big crack in the rock about 400 feet up from the ground — and that eye earned him first place.

And, Francesco Cattuto, a software engineer, picked up his first drone after being impressed by a friend’s Phantom Pro. On a walk, the fog was too thick to see much, so he decided fly his drone above it and shoot from above, managing to capture his winning travel category shot of the Basilica of Saint Francis in Umbria, Italy.

The winning photos will all be published in National Geographic, with prizes ranging from a drone to a backpack.

Scroll through the winners gallery above to see the story behind each shot.

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