Sunday, March 25, 2012

Up in the Air: Awesome Examples of Aerial Photography


This week's intended series of posts have been condensed into this one mega-post, but that doesn't take away any of the awesomeness of the subject. It's all up in the air for today, literally speaking as all of these photographs here were taken from a higher than usual altitude. Featured here are the works of Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Vincent LaforetBryan Solarski and Alex Maclean. All of these talented photographers and artists  are at the top when it comes to examples of awesome aerial photography.


The first of today's featured aerial photography masters is Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Veteran blog readers may already be familiar with his name as he's already been presented on this blog before for his portraiture work with prize-winning farm animals. Arthus-Bertrand's name is also well known because of his 2009 film, Home, which focused on the environmental impact of rapid industrialization and urbanization of all countries.

Arthus-Bertrand's aerial photography (the four example images above) has a strong emphasis on patterns, both man-made and natural. He has visited over 100 countries in order to document them from above, and the best part is that many of his images are available for free on his website.


The preceding four pictures were taken by our next featured photographer, Vincent Laforet. Laforet's work has been featured in dozens of publications, including National Geographic, Time and Vanity Fair. Aside from his aerial photographs, he is well-known among video enthusiasts for his cinematography work using modern DSLRs.

Laforet uses both traditional and tilt-shift lenses for his aerial work (although only his straightforward pictures are presented here).


The third of today's photographers is Bryan Solarski. His photography stands out from the rest in that he uses tilt-shift lenses to achieve his desired effect. In tilt-shift photography, the lens is, as the name suggests, tilted and shifted relative to the camera's sensor or film to produce the blurred, miniature effect. To illustrate this point using traditional photography, the image passes through the lens which is parallel to the sensor, thereby ensuring that the each portion of the scene has an equal chance of being in focus in the final image. In tilt-shift photography, the lens is maneuvered in such a way that only one portion of the image is in focus relative to the sensor.

If the explanation is a bit mind-boggling, don't worry about it and just enjoy Solarski's images.


The last of the featured aerial photography masters is Alex Maclean. His images (including the cover photo at the top) show complete mastery of the field. As wuth Arthus-Bertrand, his images show strong contrasts and lines, as if the structures and landscapes in his images were meant to be seen from above. This may come from his training in architecture. It's interesting to see how he selects certain parts of the scene below him to frame; through his lens they become little landscapes of their own and exist in a reality that can only be seen from above.

If you want to see more high-flying action shots, check out the websites of each of the photographers presented above. There's Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Vincent Laforet, Bryan Solarski and Alex Maclean. There's more awesome examples of aerial photography from three of the mentioned photographers through their published books. There's Earth from Above Tenth Anniversary Edition by Arthus-Bertrand, Over: The American Landscape at the Tipping Point by Maclean and Visual Stories: Behind the Lens with Vincent Laforet (Voices That Matter) by Laforet. Prints by Solarski can be purchased from his website.

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14 comments:

G said...

some great shots as always... I especially like those that are taken looking straight down it's such an un-natural perspective

Ray Rousell said...

Some very interesting photos, I like the Brian Solarski pis, that make everything look like a model, very cool effects!

Fang said...

The way they use blur effects and 90° angles make most of them look like it's just a miniature of the scene they actually photographed. I really, really like these!

R said...

Epic shots!

D4 said...

I think I'm going to have to check some more out.. just because some of these pictures drop my jaw. I love aerial shadow play.

The Angry Lurker said...

Stunning, absolutely stunning, the tulips and beach scene among my favourites!

Trolske said...

Wow, great shots. Tilt-shift picture are great, I have to look twice everytime to make sure it is not simply a picture of some minature city.

Shockgrubz said...

Love the novelty of these shots!

T. Roger Thomas said...

I really like the aerial photos of the people and the people on the beach. The other photos are good but they look so much like the view from Google Maps that it's tough for me to think of them as fine art.

WOODLOUSE said...

These are fantastic, I love the circular housing plots

Electric Addict said...

These almost look unrealistic. Wow just crazy what stuff looks like from above!

Dale JaneƩ said...

Wow, I love this post! That beach one would be so fun to own and have framed and aerial views are so unique. One of my favorite parts about flying is just staring down at the different landscapes and cities looking at all of the buildings and sights. Thanks so much for sharing these
~Dale

Shutterbug said...

Awesome photos, but my fav ones are the tilt-shift lens ones! so cool!

Bart said...

those are very cool and trippy pics.

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