What is Aerial Photography? Find Out With These Stunning Images

Have you ever wondered what is aerial photography? Have you considered immersing yourself in this photographic discipline?

We are going to discover it in this article in which I will tell you what it means, what its characteristics are or what it is for; In addition to leaving you with a lot of example images, so that instead of doubts, you only want to try.

definition aerial photography

The big question is what does aerial photography mean, because there are other terms with which it can be confused but that we are also going to see and differentiate.

The aerial photography It is one that is taken from the air or from an elevated place and can be vertical or oblique.

In its early days, aerial photography had practical purposes, from observing and monitoring military targets, to surveying the terrain and making cartographic maps.

Nowadays aerial photography also has a more artistic meaning. The arrival of drones has made this photographic genre one of the most applauded and, although we are more accustomed to this type of images every day, they never cease to surprise and amaze us.

Before diving deeper, I am going to detail other terms related to aerial photography but that are different and should be differentiated.


A orthophoto it is built from aerial photographs and has the same validity as a cartographic map because it presents all the elements of the surface on the same scale, without errors and deformations.

It is made from aerial photos taken from satellites or airplanes that are corrected to eliminate perspective defects. This process is called orthorectificationallows exact measurements to be taken from the orthophoto, as if it were a map.

In short, it would be something like a photo-map.

This is an example of orthophotography:


orbit photography

The orbit photography It is taken from space vehicles or satellites orbiting the earth. They capture a much larger area than any aerial photograph and from a much higher height.

It is the one used, for example, for meteorological studies or pollution studies.

orbit photography

if you are looking for one satelital image There are several platforms where you can download them for free.

Of course, it is not like an image bank in which it is easy to search and download, you will have to take a little time and in some you even know programming:

aerial photogrammetry

The photogrammetry It is the technique that studies and precisely defines the shape, dimensions and position in space of an object, essentially using measurements made on one or several photographs of that object.

Includes aerial photography and orthophotography.

Having clarified what aerial photography is and what the rest of the related terms mean, we can now fully delve into the definition that interests us.

Characteristics of aerial photography

Compared to other types of photography, the area has the following characteristics:

  • Offers an unobstructed view. From the aerial perspective, buildings, trees or rock formations are eliminated, for example, which in other cases can hinder the objective to be captured.
  • Wide field of vision. An aerial view offers a much larger field of view than we could achieve from ordinary perspectives. There are three main types: normal 60º, wide angle 90º and super wide angle 120º.
  • Scale. They can be on a large scale, covering more land with less detail; or on a small scale, less extent with more detail.
  • Taking place. These photographs are usually taken from airplanes, small planes, helicopters, hot air balloons, cranes, very tall buildings, skyscrapers or with drones.
  • Types of aerial photographs. Aerial photographs can be:
    • Verticals. The optical axis is perpendicular to the earth’s surface.
    • Low obliques. The optical axis is tilted relative to the ground but the horizon is not included.
    • High obliques. The optical axis is tilted relative to the ground and the horizon is included.

Vertical Low oblique High oblique

What is aerial photography for?

Aerial photography, as I have told you, began with a mainly military objective. Let’s see now what uses it has, what it is for:

  • Obtain information on strategic military objectives
  • Archeology
  • Generate orthophotos
  • Analyze the Earth’s surface
  • Agriculture and irrigation
  • Archaeological, geological research…
  • Civil engineering and urban planning
  • Commercial use in tourism, film, marketing, social photography
  • Real estate
  • Property boundary lawsuits
  • Border Study
  • Risk prevention in natural disasters
  • Humanitarian aid
  • Climate change awareness and environmental protection
  • Security and vigilance
  • Comparisons of the passage of time in the same territory

Some tips for taking aerial photos

  1. If you opt for these high flights for your photos, take into account the weather conditions (brightness, atmospheric transparency, cloudiness) and the most convenient time for the shots you want to take.
  2. There is no ideal situation, but the ideal one for the photo you have in mind. You may need to run away from the fog, or on the contrary, chase after it looking for a magical and mysterious photo.
  1. It is also important that you take into account the height of the flight, as this determines the scale of the photos.
  2. Choose the equipment (mainly the type of lens) depending on the type of photos you want to take.
  3. The spectacular thing about aerial images is not only because of the height, but because of the composition, do not forget about it when taking your photos. In the link you will find a complete guide with tips and tricks to compose your photographs. But try different frames and angles.
  4. Use your camera guides to help you compose and follow the rules of thirds or horizon. Take into account the color, lines and geometric shapes, above all.
  5. RAW photography for more flexibility when editing your images.
  6. Edit your aerial photos in a subtle way, some basic adjustments are necessary, in excess a nonsense 😉

aerial photo gallery

It is evident that we do not always have the opportunity to see the world from the air, but that does not mean that this perspective is not inspiring ☺️ .

Changing point of view is always inspiring, seeing the world from above, from a mountain, from the sky (or simply leaning out of the balcony) can give us very different images than the ones we are used to.

That is why I have proposed to dive the net to offer you a few aerial photographs with which you can let your imagination run wild and feed your inspiration. do you follow me

With these aerial images you will have a tremendous desire to try this discipline. And if this is not the case, you may suffer from altitude sickness, you will surely enjoy them from the safety of your armchair 😉

highways from the sky

Above I advised you to take lines into account when composing your aerial images, here are several examples of what roads can bring to your compositions from the air.


The contrasts that can be seen from the sky, such as a landscape with or without fog, of colors, of the sea and of the land, etc., are perspectives that you will hardly be able to see otherwise,



Forests are always beautiful, but from the sky they give us unique images, with their leaks towards the ground, their textures, their symmetries, colors…

By land, sea and air

A sky with clouds, the contrast of the sea with the land, the blues, whites and browns… Magical scenes, without a doubt.

City views that take your breath away

They are not suitable images for people with vertigo 😅 don’t you think?

Peaks and volcanoes

Approaching the top of a volcano or the top of a mountain from the sky is quite a sight.

Aerial photo of the La Palma volcano

In fact, one of the most sought after images lately is the aerial photo of the La Palma volcano. Personally, I was impressed with the work of Pulitzer Prize winner Emilio Morenatti on the island, here you can see some of his photos; or on your Instagram account.


A ship in the middle of the sea can be a wonderful image from the sky, right? And it’s just an idea!


In black and white

The mixture of perspective, fog and black and white can achieve images as fascinating as this one:

Perspective, black and white and fog


Lakes, rivers, seas and anything else that can reflect a blue sky can add interest to images taken from the air.



Can’t you imagine the feel this image would have if you could touch it? Textures evoke touch in us, thus feeding our participation in the image.



The panoramic format allows us to cover a greater proportion of the image in the scene. If you add the impact of the height, with the impact of the extension of this format you can achieve impressive images.



Paying attention to the different geometric shapes that can be seen from the sky gives us images like these:


If you have traveled by plane, surely you have a photo of the clouds or similar to these. And if not, don’t miss out the next time you fly to get a photo from above 😉 .



When easily recognizable elements do not appear, images with a certain touch of abstraction are created, such as the following, which seems to be reduced to shapes, tones and textures.

abstraction of forms


The night offers us a very interesting and unusual show of lights, action and narration. Although it complicates the fact of flying, but if you have the opportunity… do not let it escape!

Night photography from above

break the rhythm

Looking for what is different, that stands out and breaks the rhythm, adds interest to our photographs.

break the rhythm

Green I want you green

Images with a dominant color tone like these can also be very interesting :-).

Snowy mountains

Flying over mountainous areas in winter leaves us with images as incredible (and white) as these two:

old aerial photos

So you can see how aerial photography has evolved, I’m going to leave you with some old aerial photos. And, you will also see how some places have evolved!

And to finish taking your breath away watching aerial photos, don’t miss the winning photos of the 2021 Drone Photo Awards. You can also see previous years on the same page, don’t miss them because they are a real show.

I know that many of these images may seem a priori…