WINNERPortfolio Prize - Australian geographic nature photographer of the year 2021
Search

AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY - ARTISTIC APPROACH

AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY - ARTISTIC APPROACH

Aerial photography provides photographers a unique perspective; what may seem ordinary from the ground can be extraordinary from above. This is what excites me about aerial photography, as a landscape photographer, it has provided me a new way to see - where details of nature blend with perceptual angles to give a new viewpoint on the interrelationship between geography and art. 

As a photographer, our ability to abstract the landscape is emphasised in aerial photography. In landscape photography, a horizontal line usually indicates the horizon, suggesting time and place by anchoring an image and creating depth. By angling the camera down, abstracting or often excluding the reference point of the horizon, allows me to focus on texture, pattern, shape, balance, contrast and colour.

Aerial photographs can translate spatial mapping into a game, where a mountainous crest, beachy shore, or a protruding landmass can exist independently and abstracted from the contexts that typically define its features.  The aerial viewpoint can challenge traditional perspectives and encourage viewers to see the natural world with fresh eyes. Geographic formations take on artistic qualities, creating enticing and provocative imagery. 

It may seem whimsical, but if you look a little harder, you often see trees in the sand or rivers in the ocean. This allows me to focus on subjects, some literal, some metaphorical, some that provide context on the nature of the landscape. These images are interpretations of my response to the land that is unfolded below me.

Abstract aerial landscape photography can create images that inspire and intrigue. An aerial photographer can depict the essence of an abstract landscape without relying on the objective subject matter, but rather by relying on the fundamental design elements of texture, pattern, shape balance, contrast and colour.

Texture

Aerial photography allows me to focus on the textures within the landscape. Texture adds a sense of touch to a photograph. As one of the 5 senses, touch adds dimensionality to our world. Abstract aerial landscape photography plays with our innate sense of touch. It makes an abstract landscape rich with tactility, yet with no solid visual reference. This cultivates curiosity within a viewer, inviting them in for a closer look.

Pattern

The human eye is wired to seek out pattern. From urban sprawl to natural landscapes, pattern sorts the visual world into regulated posits of information. In abstract aerial landscape photography, curating pattern requires a holistic approach and helps create rhythm within an image. A lack of objective subject matter generally engenders a slower rhythm and a tranquil meditative photograph. The inclusion of brighter colours, sharp angles or even abrupt repetitive patterns can stimulate a faster rhythm and an energetic photograph.

Shape

Shooting with the lens perpendicular to the landscape flattens a scene. It creates a study of the shapes that construct a plane of view. By taking advantage of naturally occurring features in the landscape (such as the line of a creek or curve of a sand dune), shapes are formed creating a path for the viewers eye to journey through the image.

Balance

Balance is the manifestation of weight in a composition between space, forms, colours and contrast. Symmetry and visual similarities between concepts or subject matter all create a sense of balance. Balance can be instilled by the even distribution of an abstract aerial landscape and its features throughout a frame or balancing negative space with form and shape. Each part contributes to the sum of the image as a whole. For example, the presence of shadow within an abstract aerial landscape can help balance positive and negative space, allowing a scene to breathe.

Contrast

Rough against smooth, light against dark, contrasting subject matter garners energy and variation within an image. Photographing the natural transition between the land and sea or capturing fields regulated by different colours are two examples of incorporating contrast into abstract aerial landscape photography.

Colour

Abstract aerial landscape photography captures colours that go unnoticed from the ground. Some landscapes are awash with colour. Others are muted, creating a more subdued experience. By incorporating areas of bright colour within an abstract aerial landscape, a photographer gives visual priority to particular elements in an image over others.

As much as possible, I strive to be inspired by what is below me: often a sense of wonderment of a world so magnificent, diverse and complex. These photographs are abstract, but they are also real pictures of the Australian landscape and explore not only the organic interplay between land, water, wind and rain, but also the devastation and beauty of the human environment.

In photographing for this my aerial collection, I aimed to look past the obvious. The challenge was to see beyond the distraction of the conspicuous to capture unique reflections of the journey. Some of my subjects are quite beautiful, others less so. My goal is to inspire those who see my work to look more carefully at the world around them, to discover beauty in unusual places.