Unmanned drones have gotten a bad reputation in recent years. And with good reason, especially when the U.S. government is using them to kill people in distant countries with arguably little accountability.
But more recently, they've also let us gain a new perspective on the world -- literally. By attaching cameras to unmanned flyers, filmmakers are unlocking new aerial views of natural and manmade phenomena that can be equal parts beautiful, enlightening and enraging all at the same time.
We've pulled together the most stunning drone footage we could find and then naturally GIFed it for your viewing pleasure. You can click on the GIFs themselves to see the full videos, or scroll to the bottom of this post.Political protests in Bangkok.
Skirmishes between police and protesters in Istanbul.
Fourth of July fireworks above Nashville, Tennessee.
Dream-like surf on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii.
"Drones allow for camera movements and shots that were never possible before," Ben Kreimer, a drone expert with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Drone Journalism Lab, wrote in an email to The Huffington Post.Gorgeous island named Koh Yao Noi in Thailand.
Monuments and skyscrapers of New York City.
Steep and twisting streets of San Francisco.
Swimming pool in Palm Springs, California.
"They can record immersive footage that takes viewers for a ride through environments, traveling just above the ground from a cat's perspective to then moments later soaring like a bird hundreds of feet in the air," Kreimer wrote.Burning Man festival in Black Rock Desert, Nevada.
Estates of the mega-rich in Connecticut.
Eruption of Mount Yasur on Tanna Island, Vanuatu.
Costa Concordia shipwreck off Italy's western coast.
"They are a great tool with an unimaginable number of applications," Kreimer wrote. "Drones give filmmakers, journalists and citizens the ability to inexpensively and easily capture truly unique video footage and perspectives from the air."Rushing waters of Niagara Falls.
"Christ the Redeemer" in Rio de Janeiro.
Soccer tournament in Gujarat, India.
Music-making drones from KMel Robotics in Philadelphia.
Recreational drones are still very much a niche hobby. A video-equipped drone can set you back as much as $10,000. And a patchwork of state-level laws have left many drone owners in legal limbo. Each U.S. state takes a different approach on drone legislation.Human-drone dance performance in Tokyo.
Drone-powered graffiti from a New York street artist.
'Dolphin stampede' off the coast of Dana Point, California.
Lake Bogoria in western Kenya.
A group of academics has asked the Federal Aviation Administration to loosen rules about drone use. They say the agency is stifling research and innovation by raising too many legal hurdles to flying a drone.Giraffes in Kenya's Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
Test launch for SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.
Wedding couple learning the hard way to watch out for drones.
And, finally, drone selfies (aka "dronies") taken in New Zealand.
Will people ever grow accustomed to small motorized devices whizzing through the air? Kreimer thinks they will, just like they have with other technology.
"Society has obviously grown used to the concept of portable cameras," he wrote. "A handful of people will use drones with cameras for nefarious purposes, but this also happens with handheld cameras." You can watch all the drone videos below.