aerial photography

Human Landscapes of the American Southwest

Human Landscapes of the American Southwest

Alan Taylor has put together a terrific collection of images he culled from Google Earth of man-made interaction with the landscape of the Southwest United States.

Housing project, mines, oil exploration, nuclear detonations and more.

Over the past week, I took a virtual tour with Google Earth, and wanted to share some of these snapshots of the human landscape in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.

If you like aerial imagery like this, I highly recommend the book Overview: A New Perspective of Earth by Benjamin Grant. My friend Steve gave it to me recently and I’ve been through it numerous times. Beautiful landscape patterns seen from above.

South rim of the Grand Canyon

South rim of the Grand Canyon

Flying out to Los Angeles to empty my mother’s house.

I was deep in a much needed nap when my wife Anne started poking me and saying “I think this huge hole in the ground is the Grand Canyon.”

I woke up, peeked over her and indeed it was. I’m so out of the habit of taking window shots on planes it didn’t occur to me until we were almost past it to attempt one, but this is the one good shot I got.

That’s the south rim and the Colorado River and I must say, this was the cleanest window and the best view of the Grand Canyon I’ve ever seen in the hundreds of times I’ve flown over it. I was surprised the pilots didn’t come on the intercom and announce it, it was simply breathtaking.

I had the Ricoh GR II easily accessible and I didn’t have a lot of time to futz around with it so I shot and prayed. This is the high contrast monochrome JPEG pretty much straight out of the camera. It’s a more dramatic image than the RAW version, even heavily processed so I’m using it here because indeed, it was a dramatic sight.

Ophir Chasma (Mars)

Ophir Chasma

My flickr contact NASA posted this amazing image of Mars taken by the Viking 1 spacecraft in 1976.

“During its examination of Mars, the Viking 1 spacecraft returned images of Valles Marineris, a huge canyon system 5,000 km long, up to 240 km wide, and 6.5 km deep, whose connected chasma or valleys may have formed from a combination of erosional collapse and structural activity. This synthetic oblique view shows Ophir Chasma, the northern most one of the connected valleys of Valles Marineris; north toward top of frame; for scale, the large impact crater in lower right corner is 30 km (18 miles) wide.”

Morning clouds over Los Angeles

Morning clouds

Los Angeles, California.

For the past few years my routine trips to LA to visit my mother have been on United in “economy plus” which gives a bit more legroom. I used to get regular business class upgrades but United started charging both miles and money so I skip them.

I have to have an aisle seat; at my age I can’t make it across without using the restroom at least once. This flight was overbooked and after everyone got settled a gate agent came on board and moved me to a remaining business-class seat which was a window but which I gladly took. While getting up to pee mid-flight involved intricate gymnastics to climb over my deeply sleeping row-mate, I did get to do a bit of shooting out the window which I enjoyed doing in years past and missed.

Taking off from LAX on a 6:00 am flight affords some great morning light. Even though the right wing and engine was in my way I knew the Ricoh GR had enough resolution to afford cropping so all I really had to do was get the metering right so the wing and engine didn’t affect what I wanted from the clouds and make sure the camera didn’t focus on the window.

Small squall, small island