The Best Views in LA, According to Drone Photographers

They’ve got the videos to prove it

By The Editors
June 22, 2017 9:00 am

Great views of L.A. — in all its sprawled and distended urban glory — are hard to come by.

Which is what makes videos taken via drone or helicopter so magical.

So we asked four local aerial photographers a simple question:

What’s the best bird’s-eye view in the entire city?

Here’s what they told us — along with the videos to prove it.

Above the Manhattan Beach Pier
Shot by Scott McFarlane, Periscope Creative

“This is by far my most popular aerial shot: taken directly above the Manhattan Beach Pier. I captured it on a cloudy day during the week without the usual swarm of tourists. I framed the two surfers beside the pier to give it a sense of scale.  At first glance, people are unsure what they’re looking at: A banjo? Spatula? Nipple? So it challenges the viewer to take a closer look.  I love the otherworldly feel of this photo due to the shape of the structure, its simplicity, and the symmetrical composition.”

Above the Huntington Beach Pier
Shot by Colin Hinkle, Soaring Badger Productions

“My favorite is along the ocean. I love the water, and here the sun sets on it. We don’t get that in Chicago. Although I like the Santa Monica Pier, the Huntington Pier is quieter, and when I shot this there were surfers in the water, which added a lot. I do these for fun, so I like to go someplace quiet.”

Above LAX, at Night
Shot by Chris Pritchard, Chris P Zero

“My favorite shot from Night Vision is the shot over LAX at 2:07. There’s something really unique and amazing about flying a few hundred feet over such a busy and active airport at night. All of the activity in the air and on the ground, coupled with the cool coastal breeze off the ocean made that shot one of the most memorable. I’ve since captured a lot of additional aerial shots around the airport thanks to some very helpful air traffic controllers who have allowed us to navigate the crowded airspace.”

Above DTLA, at Sunset
Shot by Chris Pritchard, Chris P Zero

“This was accomplished in a very slow moving helicopter, taking care to fly a very deliberate and straight path at slow speed while also keeping the camera level and steady. Downtown L.A. is far from the largest and grandest skyline, but it really is something special. Its location in the city with the mix of hills, mountains and flat land all around it help it stand out. And most of the larger high-rises are on Bunker Hill, a large hill much higher than the surrounding landscape. That gives it a little extra depth and uniqueness.”

Above the Rooftops
Shot by Drew Ganyer, cinematographer

“When I first got my drone, I was flying by my friend’s house when I noticed my first neon sign. Then I saw them everywhere. L.A. has so many historic neon signs. So I studied the history of them and made a map, and shot during sunrise and sunset. Sunrise is my favorite because it’s more peaceful, people haven’t gotten up yet. My favorite sign is probably the Royal Wilshire near MacArthur Park. It’s two tones — purple and yellow — and feels very ‘80s to me. All of the letters work, too, which is surprisingly uncommon.”

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