Rotorua's Mark Smith only picked up a camera three years ago, now he's taken out a top prize at the D-Photo Magazine 2017 Amateur Photographer of the Year competition.

When Mr Smith, a self-employed IT worker, started taking photos it included sending up his drone to get the perfect shot.

"I didn't realise how addictive it was going to be," he said.

Mr Smith said his favourite thing to photograph was the night sky or astrophotography, but that was very reliant on the weather.

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While out flying his drone he spotted the tractor that would win him the aerial category in the competition.

"I had a few ideas in my head, I couldn't miss the opportunity," he said.

"I was trying to create something where you had to look into it twice to see what it is.

"You look at the image and you're trying to work out what it is, and it's just a little tractor doing its job."

The magazine had nearly 10,000 entrants in this year's competition.

"If you don't put your work out there, no one's going to see it," Mr Smith said.

"I come from a sport background and that competitive side, I just want to get better all the time.

"A lot of research goes into it."

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Mr Smith didn't know if the prize would help him get any photography work but said for him it was just about getting out there and trying to take the image.

"The hardest thing with the drone is trying to fly within the rules," he said.

"It's not that easy just to go out there and fly.

"There's a lot of organising and co-ordinating and then you're still reliant on the weather."

You can see more of Mr Smith's work on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MarkSmithPhotographyNZ
Rules around flying a drone
- Do not operate a drone that is 25kg or larger and always ensure that it is safe to operate.
- Take all steps to minimise hazards to persons, property and other aircraft.
- Fly only in daylight.
- Give way to all crewed aircraft.
- Be able to see the drone with your own eyes to ensure separation from other aircraft.
- Do not fly higher than 120m above ground level (unless certain conditions are met).
- Have knowledge of airspace restrictions that apply in the area.
- Do not fly closer than 4km from any aerodrome (unless certain conditions are met).
- When flying in controlled airspace, obtain an air traffic control clearance issued by Airways.
- Do not fly in special use airspace without the permission of the controlling authority of the area.
- Have consent from anyone you want to fly above.
- Have the consent of the property owner or person in charge of the area you are wanting to fly above.
- From airshare.co.nz