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The Alien Essence Of New York City, Captured From Above

Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist Vincent Laforet has captured many amazing and heart wrenching scenes over the course of his career, including numerous aerial collections of New York City. The latest batch from Laforet are perhaps the most amazing he’s ever taken. This series, Gotham 7.5k, are comprised of night shots from a helicopter flying 1,200 feet in the air.

As he points out on his website, that altitude is higher than the most landing planes travel. But still, nerve wracking behind the scenes video shows him hanging out of the helicopter’s open door on a harness, his feet floating above the long drop, switching lenses and aiming at the city below.

The resulting photos expose an alien city few of us have seen. Some, particularly a shot of Times Square, appear video game-like in their precise shapes and luridly enhanced colors. Most awe-inspring are the photos which reveal the geometry of the city, vividly bounded by a grid of streets.

Because of the difficulty of capturing aerial photos at such a great height, and in the dark, Laforet says that until recent developments in camera technology, these photos would be nearly impossible. But using a Canon 1DX and a Mamiya Leaf Credo 50 MP Back (a medium format camera which can run more than $20,000), capturing New York’s night time skyline became possible, even with relatively quick shutter speeds. He used “a series of f2.8 to f1.2 lenses including a few tilt-shift lenses,” for the photos, according to a blog post.

Laforet was inspired by neurons and synapses in the making of these photos, but the bridges and avenues of the city appear more like brilliant, golden veins, delivering New York’s life force. On the ground we can sometimes forget the majesty of this place, but through Laforet’s photos NYC’s powerful beauty is unmistakable.

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