In a basket where I keep cards and letters, I recently found a greetings card sent in 2009, with a very striking image. It’s entitled “Trees Amid The Waters Near Taponas, Rhone, France” and it is an aerial photograph taken by Yann Arthus Bertrand during the floods of March 2001. Seeing this image made me look around for other aerial photographsby other photographers, like this one below with the road dominating.
Going back to the Yann Arthus Bertrand image, it is other-worldly, enthralling, even unreal. What is water, what is reflection, what is tree? It blurs the lines, makes me look again and really think about what I see. Which way up should I look at the image? Does it even matter? It’s an entirely different perspective, and no wonder when the photograph was taken from the air. Suddenly our earthbound focus is turned on its head, literally perhaps. But the card also explains how these floods were caused not only by heavy rain but by issues with river clearance and construction on floodplains, so it combines this new angle with everyday reality.
Yann Arthus Bertrand became famous for his aerial photography. The amazing range of pictures ht took for “Earth From The Air: A photographic portrait if our planet” were exhibited across the world and formed a bestsellng book. Obviously each image is very different. It’s the floodwaters in the picture I’ve described which makes that photograph disconcerting. But each has this unusual perspective as the camera looks down at the Earth.
Aerial photography might seem everyday. Now with the growing use of drones we are more used to seeing aerial footage of events. And for years many people have displayed aerial views of their houses or area on their wall. Yet somehow Yann Arthus Bertrand’s photographs make me think again about this style of photograph. One way I think nature impacts wellbeing is by changing our perspective and outlook on the world around us, and on life. Nature is familiar to many of us, reassuring and beautiful – but also “other”. Life is a fight for nature as it is for us, but in different ways. So many of the issues that preoccupy and overshadow our lives – work pressures, waiting lists, cost of living – feel a world away from nature. That’s partly why nature is calming and restful for us. When I’m outside in nature, I might not forget issues that are on my mind, but they recede for a while and feel less immediate. I’m looking from another perspective.
So if nature on the ground can change our outlook, seeing nature from the air could do this all the more! Size and scale alter. Looking at the Earth From The Air photographs, you get a different sense of the vastness of some features of the Earth, and the smallness of others. It reminds me of astronauts talking about seeing Planet Earth from outer space – yet another, far more distant perspective!
Looking at images like these feels liberating, exciting, awe-inspiring, lifting mood. Do you agree? Look at some of the images at www.earthfromtheair.com and then share what you think in Medley’s Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/359291215486002