A Drone’s Eye View of Los Angeles, New York, London, Bangkok & Mexico City

Unmanned aer­i­al vehi­cles, more col­lo­qui­al­ly known as drones, have drawn bad press in recent years: as the intru­sive tools of the com­ing sur­veil­lance state, as deliv­er­ers of death from above in a host of war zones, as the pur­chase-deliv­er­ing har­bin­gers of world dom­i­na­tion by Amazon.com. But as with any tech­nol­o­gy, you can also use drones for the good, or at least for the inter­est­ing. A num­ber of urban pho­tog­ra­phers have attract­ed a great deal of atten­tion in the past few months doing just that, buy­ing or build­ing cam­era-equipped drones of their own, tak­ing to the skies above their cities, and cap­tur­ing views of them we’d nev­er see oth­er­wise. I live in Los Ange­les and like to think I explore its ever-more-revi­tal­ized down­town (from which I type this post) on a reg­u­lar basis, but near­ly every shot Ian Wood got in the ear­ly morn­ing with his drone in the video above shows off an aes­thet­ic ele­ment of the neigh­bor­hood I had­n’t noticed before.

Above, Randy Scott Slavin pro­vides us an equal­ly dream­like drone’s eye view of Amer­i­ca’s oth­er metrop­o­lis, New York City, and below that you can also get a sweep­ing view of Lon­don, its archi­tec­tur­al icons on full dis­play, from sure-hand­ed drone pilot/cameraman Evan Skuthor­pe.

Then we have a flight around the mon­u­ments of Mex­i­co City, in my expe­ri­ence an end­less­ly fas­ci­nat­ing place from any alti­tude and at any angle, by A&H Aer­i­al Pro­duc­tions.

Those of you who know Bangkok might feel star­tled to get the high­ly unusu­al view of it, near­ly free of peo­ple pro­vid­ed by Coconuts TV, who took a cam­era drone out on a day when pro­test­ers shut down sev­en of the city’s most vital inter­sec­tions. (It reminds me of a few favorite moments by that most cel­e­brat­ed Thai “auteur of lan­guor,” Apichat­pong Weerasethakul.) But you may have noticed that all the videos here focus on depop­u­lat­ed places, due most like­ly to the tricky host of applic­a­ble laws to do with pri­va­cy and aer­i­al pho­tog­ra­phy. So if you decide to film a drone fly­through of your own city, per­haps have a chat with your lawyer first.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Great Cities at Night: Views from the Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion

Prize-Win­ning Ani­ma­tion Lets You Fly Through 17th Cen­tu­ry Lon­don

Lon­don Mashed Up: Footage of the City from 1924 Lay­ered Onto Footage from 2013

What Makes Paris Look Like Paris? A Cre­ative Use of Google Street View

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.