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Stephan Zirwes’s Stunning Aerial Photos Put Google Earth To Shame

The Stuttgart-based photog hangs out of helicopters to capture the large-scale patterns and textures of the natural and man-made environment.

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One of the best things about flying is the bird’s-eye view: the vast patchwork of farmland, the manicured suburban plots with their glistening swimming pools, and the seemingly endless stretches of ocean. As details become indiscernible, the landscape takes on a striking regularity and chaos turns to order. The Stuttgart-based photographer Stephan Zirwes captures that perspective, rendering natural and man-made settings into stunning abstract compositions.

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Zirwes’s aerial photos, shot from a large-format digital Hasselbad while hanging out of a helicopter, range from richly textured farmland and industrial airfields (behold the beauty of a runway!) to patterned snow and veined tributaries. The ski-slope pictures, in particular, point up the majesty of nature and — excuse the triteness — our relative puniness.

About the author

A former editor at such publications as WIRED, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Fast Company, Belinda Lanks has also written for The New York Times Magazine, The New York Observer, Interior Design, and ARTnews.

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