Drones have their detractors, and we should certainly keep these flying machines in check. But there’s no denying that they have improved the field of aerial photography — and archeology, conservation, and science — immensely. Not everyone can afford to fly around in a helicopter to get stunning shots from the sky, but just about anyone with some savings can invest in a drone and do the very same thing.

The Drone Awards allows those who have honed their skills at drone photography to submit their best shots and showcase their talent. In 2018, the Drone Awards received more than 4,400 submissions in six categories — abstract, nature, people, sport, wildlife, and urban — from amateur and professional photographers from around the world. Here are the winning photos of this year’s contest.

Abstract

Winner

Weather Snake by Ovi D. Pop

Runner up

Ice Magic by Martin Mecnarowski

Nature

Winner

Mada’in Saleh by Gabriel Scanu

Runner up

Entrance to Hell by Xiaoxiao Liu

People

Winner

Pilgrimage of Millions of People by Qinghua Shui

Runner up

Honors Day by Xiaoxiao Liu

Sport

Winner

Skating Shadows by Vincent Riemersma

Runner up

El Angel by Luis Alonso Jimenez Silva

Wildlife

Winner

Blacktip Shark by Adam Barker

First runner up

Big Shadow by Thomas Vijayan

Second runner up

Responsible Dady the Gharial with Babies by Dhritiman Mukherjee

Urban

Winner

Assisi Over the Clouds by Francesco Cattuto

First runner up

Warehouse Fire by Byron du Bois

Second runner up

Ameneties by Gary Cummins

Photo of the year

Above the Polar Bear by Florian Ledoux