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.
"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.
"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.
"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."
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.
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.
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.