Photography is an art form that is constantly evolving with the introduction of new technologies. From instant film to digital cameras, photographers have been able to make new and exciting creations as more and more tools are available to them. The latest invention to seriously change picture-taking is the drone.

Drone technology allows us to view places that we’d never otherwise have access to. While most show us pictures that help us appreciate the beautiful world we live in, some do the opposite and depict a horrifying reality.

The images that follow surely belong to the second category, but it’s still important to look at them, no matter how hard it may seem. After all, many of these places are too dangerous to visit without the help of modern technology.

1. Syria. The ongoing Syrian Civil War has been disastrous for anyone caught in the gunfire. This image from a drone shows some of the Syrian tanks, and the surrounding destruction from the fighting.

Homs was once the third largest city in Syria, but it was virtually demolished during a four-year battle between the government and the opposition. The city was left in ruins and left thousands dead. 

2. Beijing, China. Trey Ratcliff, an American expat, unfortunately learned the hard way how Beijing’s imperial palace got the nickname “The Forbidden City.”

Ratcliff managed to get some aerial footage of the stunning city before his drone was seized and he was arrested by Chinese authorities.

3. Pripyat, Ukraine. The radioactive impact of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986 is still visible even to this day, with buildings being left uninhabited for decades.

This is the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone’s Duga System, which was built to catch missile attacks with an early-warning system using radar.

4. Kazantyp, Crimea. Under construction since 1976, the Crimean Atomic Energy Station project was abandoned due to geological instability.

It was then used as the site of the KaZantip electronic music festival (also known as “Reaktor” from 1993-99 before it was purchased by an anonymous buyer in 2005.

5. Ōkuma, Fukushima, Japan. In 2011, Ōkuma was jarred by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, which triggered a tsunami that crushed the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant. Over 150,000 people across the country and 11,515 Ōkuma residents had to evacuate.

 Ōkuma became a ghost town when the nuclear meltdown caused by the tsunami wrecked the area. You can see how the bottom half of the house has been decimated by the water.

6. Area 51, Nevada. Since the 1940s, reports of UFO sightings and activity have surrounded the U.S. Air Force base commonly known as Area 51.

In August 2015, when Hans Faulkner took this drone footage, “no drones” signs were put up on the premises, perhaps suggesting that UFO enthusiasts were onto something.

7. Debaltsevo, Ukraine. The ongoing conflict between the Ukranian military and pro-Russian forces began when the Russian military annexed Crimea in 2014. These images captured by a drone depict the remains of an encirclement of tanks.

The area came to be known as Debaltsevo Cauldron, which is a reference to the battle which took place in the early months of 2015.

8. Tar Heel, North Carolina. This footage captured by filmmaker Mark Devries depicted the awful practices of a pig factory farm owned by Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork supplier.

Devries was terrified to find out that the factory farm operators were filling an open, normally dry crater by draining pig feces and urine into it.

9. Tesla Tower, Russia. The Soviet-era structure was a “lightning machine” that created enough electricity to make one explorer’s hair stand on end.

Once the Soviet Union was finished, people assumed the tower had been abandoned, but that these photos show that isn’t exactly true.

10. Spitsbergen, Norway. On an island nearly 650 miles away from the North Pole, in the Arctic Svalbard archipelago, sits a vault designed to help sustain the human species. It’s stocked with 860,000 “backup” seed samples, should we ever lose our crops.

This footage captured from a drone shows the remote location of the vault. It was designed in 2006 to keep moisture out, and it’s apparently so impenetrable that the facility will remain dry even if the polar ice caps melt. 

These discoveries may never have happened if not for the amazing drone technology that exists today. While drones tend to get a bad rap, these photos show that they can definitely have a positive impact as well.