BETWEEN THE INTRODUCTION OF technology, and today’s laws limiting or banning their use, there was a glorious period of about 18 months where it was possible to fly these things almost anywhere in the world and people were still excited to see it.
I’m glad I made use of that time as most of these aerial drone shots would be totally illegal today.
One of the surprising things about these photographs is that when I’m flying the drone I can’t actually see what the camera is seeing. People find that weird, but I quite like the suspense of not knowing what I have until I get the camera in hand.
Already the window is now pretty well closed for drone photography at many of these sites — the following images are the results of two years travel with a quad-copter in my backpack.
15. Agra, India
Above on the top see the Taj Mahal, with the Yamuna river snaking away towards its source in the Himalayas. Just below, you see the day’s first tourists begin to trickle through the gates. It was amazing to be seeing an angle that had almost certainly never before been seen — not in all the centuries that this thing has stood there.
Above you see two wrestlers, close to the Taj Mahal, practising the ancient Indian sport of Kushti in a pit they had hacked into the ground just two hours before.
All of the images shared in this story were legal when I took them. The exception was the Taj Mahal, which even very early after the technology’s inception had rules in place. I had come so far to take the shot that I persisted in sneaking into a hidden take-off point, but the police were extremely diligent and professional. Probably the best security I’ve seen anywhere in the world. I got a warning, then tried to sneak a couple more pictures the next day. After I had taken these images, I had to leave Agra very quickly.
14. Delhi, India
13. Mumbai, India
12. Paris, France
10. Bourtange, Holland
9. Matauri Bay, New Zealand
8. Moscow, Russia
Here you see Moscow’s Hotel Ukraina lit up at dusk. This picture was taken as the Russian stock markets crashed on “Black Tuesday”. Little whiffs of panic could be felt on the street. Moscow had never looked or felt more like Gotham city.
7. Istanbul, Turkey
6. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is a fine city by day, and even finer by night.
5. Barcelona, Spain
4. Katskhi Pillar, Georgia
3. Tbilisi, Georgia
The city of Tbilisi in Georgia, where the people are friendly, the food is kickass and the policemen actually do their jobs.
2. St. Petersburg, Russia
There is a legend in Russia that Saint Petersburg was constructed in the blue heavens and lowered in one piece into the marshland, for how otherwise could a city so beautiful exist in a region so bleak.
This was back in 2013, in the early days, when you could fly drones pretty well anywhere.
Two cops saw me taking this photo, wandered over, asked me how much the drone cost, then wandered off again. This would never happen today.
1. Trieste, Italy
And last but not least, the Vittoria Light, overlooking the Gulf of Trieste during a beautiful sunset.
This piece was originally published on Maptia. All photos are by Amos Chapple, and are reprinted here with his permission.