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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.

  • <p>A factory from overhead.</p>
  • <p>Fields.</p>
  • <p>A glacier.</p>
  • <p>A detail from a shot of the beach.</p>
  • <p>A detail of a shot of a pier.</p>
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    A factory from overhead.

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    A glacier.

  • 06 /12
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    A detail from a shot of the beach.

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    A detail of a shot of a pier.

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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.

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.