on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Geometrical Landscapes

David Hopley and Drone Photography

Thomas Peck

The real pleasure of photography is that it forces me to slow down and really look. That’s never easy in our rushed world, so a chance to stop, look and see is truly valuable.


There is nothing new about aerial photographs – people have been making images from the air since the invention of the hot air balloon. We all know the experience of looking out from an aeroplane, fascinated by the view, and most of us have shot an image or two through the window, even if just with our camera phones. However, drones have brought a new perspective to aerial photography, one that opens up a completely different set of compositional techniques compared to traditional landscape photography. Whereas when we take images from a high vantage point, the top of a mountain, a high building or even from a plane, we are looking out into the landscape, the drone allows us to look straight down. Our world view is undermined. Suddenly the landscape looks different, abstracted. There are few clues as to scale. The viewpoint is so unusual that sometimes it is difficult to identify exactly what we are looking at. And this causes the eye to pause and the mind to work. That split second to identify what is being looked at can aesthetically be very rewarding.

‘Encompassed II’, David Hopley

‘Encompassed II’, David Hopley

Take David Hopley’s fascinating drone picture above: ‘Encompassed II’. Ostensibly a mundane subject – a tree in a field of wheat with tractor tracks. But the viewpoint has turned this into an image that is actually about something completely different. What we see here is a perfectly balanced geometric patterned rendition of the landscape. Those are descriptors that we almost never come across in landscape photography – geometry, perfect circles, dead straight lines. They don’t exist when we look out, only when we look down.

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