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The World From Above: The Beauty Of Aerial Photography

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Aerial photography offers a drastically different perspective than the one you get from shooting on the ground. It includes photographs taken from aircraft, helicopters, balloons, rockets, kites, skydives, etc. It can be a rewarding, challenging and enriching experience. It can produce unique shots that look different than any other ground shot you have ever taken. Scenic flights can give you some great, memorable photos.

Below, we present over 50 amazing aerial photographs — photos shot “from above”, in the air. At the bottom of this post you’ll also find references to DIY-tutorials and further useful information about aerial photography. You can also explore other works of the photographers we’ve featured in the links at the bottom.

You may be interested in the following related posts:

Aerial Photography Link

Petrenko5
Moscow, Russia. A winter shot from an airplane.

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Jason Hawkes7

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Carlos Gutierrez10
“Lightning bolts appear above and around the Chaiten volcano as seen from Chana, some 30 kms (19 miles) north of the volcano, as it began its first eruption in thousands of years, in southern Chile May 2, 2008. Cases of electrical storms breaking out directly above erupting volcanoes are well documented, although scientists differ on what causes them. Picture taken May 2, 2008.”

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doncon40212

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George Steinmetz15
China from above.

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Evan Leeson18

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MNkiteman20

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Laurent Malbecq22

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michi.p26

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David McNew
“A firefighting airtanker drops Phos-Check fire retardant over the Gap fire as more than 1,000 wildfires continue burning across about 680 square miles of central and northern California, on July 3, 2008 near Goleta, California”.

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Unknown
Passing The Golden Gate Bridge.

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Bret Oliver
Burj Dubai construction.

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Andrew Strain28
“Dave Fortin goes big at the 2007 Grouse Mountain Showdown Over the City, high above Vancouver, British Columbia.”

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Joshua Longbrake30

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George Steinmetz32
“A breathtaking view from the top of Golden Gate Bridge reveals the span far below where it enters Marin County.”

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ZaksterNT34
Night view of St.Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney

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David Maisel

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Unknown36
“A competitor dives from the 14 meter-high bridge over Drina river during annual high diving competition in Bosnian town of Visegrad July 12, 2008. ”

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NASA’s Terra Satelite38
Glacial lakes from retreating glaciers. “A firefighting airtanker drops Phos-Check fire retardant over the Gap fire as more than 1,000 wildfires continue burning across about 680 square miles of central and northern California, on July 3, 2008 near Goleta, California”.

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Vincent Laforet

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Unknown40

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Yann Arthus-Bertrand42
The portfolio contains literally hundreds of photos of over 100 countries shot from above.

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blondepowers47

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AFP49
“An aerial photograph captures the plume of ashes spewed by the Chaiten volcano in Chile, on May 31”.

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AFP51
“This September 10 image, taken by the crew of the International Space Station flying 220 statute miles above Earth, shows Hurricane Ike”.

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Aurora Borealis as seen from space

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Mark Tantrum53
Beautiful Singapore when the sun rises

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Franck 55
HDR shot of Shanghai, China

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Astronaut photography57
China from above.

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Sam Abeil61
“Clouds above Crater Lake, Oregon”.

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Unknown
“Built in 1931, the Hidden Lake Lookout sits 6890′ above the sea. It was an active fire lookout until the 1950’s. Now it is beautifully maintained by the Friends of Hidden Lake Lookout in Mt. Vernon, WA.”

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Farl63
Archipelago of Sulu

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Bblan7265
Zion National Park in Utah, United States

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Coolskipper67
Mountains of Siberia

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Alex S. Maclean69

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Drhundertwasser73
Crops above the Great Plains, USA

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Hhardwiredindustries75
Meandering river of northern Alberta

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Ron Niebrugge76
Aerial view of Copper River Delta, Chugach National Forest, Cordova, Alaska

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Last Click Link

Unknown78
New York From Above. Mid 1930s.

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Unknown81
“NASA Astronaut Robert L. Stewart Floats Above Cloudy Earth During an Untethered Extravehicular Activity (EVA) , February 1984”.

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Yann Arthus-Bertrand83
Heart in Voh, New Caledonia.

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What makes aerial photography so challenging? Link

Without any doubt, aerial photography is a challenging art. Aerial photographers have to tackle many problems while shooting in the air. Photographers must deal with the effects produced by motion — not only the motion of an airplane or helicopter, but motion of the camera as well. Photographers should be equipped with cameras that have very fast shutter speeds to avoid hand shakes (motion blur) caused by airplane and helicopter vibration. Because airplane windows are made of Plexiglass, which doesn’t have the same optical qualities as normal glass, images taken through them are of inferior quality.

Also, shooting through aircraft windows presents other obstacles, such as having to shoot around your neighbor’s arm. But it can also result in some interesting images. Aerial photography totally depends on a photographer’s judgment and experience to predict and capture the proper moment. Also, being a form of outdoor photography, aerial photography depends for its success largely on the environment. Therefore, a basic understanding of the atmosphere and its effects on photography is necessary for successful aerial images. As with all outdoor photography, the aerial photographer depends on the sun to illuminate the subject. And haze further reduces contrast levels in high-altitude shots.

In many ways, aerial photography is both more and less complex than other kinds of photography. However, the skill and techniques needed to obtain good results are easily learned through careful observation and good judgment.

Further Resources Link

Further articles and related resources:

You may be interested in the following related posts:

Footnotes Link

  1. 1 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/30/50-beautiful-examples-of-reflections-photography/
  2. 2 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/16/beautiful-examples-of-tilt-shift-photography/
  3. 3 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/02/when-time-freezes-50-beautiful-examples-of-freeze-photography/
  4. 4 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/08/24/45-beautiful-motion-blur-photos/
  5. 5 http://photoblog.petrenko.cc/category/my-photos/
  6. 6 http://photoblog.petrenko.cc/my-photos/moscow-winter-life/
  7. 7 http://www.jasonhawkes.com/
  8. 8 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/08/london_from_above_at_night.html
  9. 9 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/08/london_from_above_at_night.html
  10. 10 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/12/the_year_2008_in_photographs_p.html
  11. 11 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/12/the_year_2008_in_photographs_p.html
  12. 12 http://flickr.com/photos/23437487@N00/
  13. 13 http://flickr.com/photos/23437487@N00/2429490017/
  14. 14 http://flickr.com/photos/23437487@N00/2736628839/
  15. 15 http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/05/china/aerials/steinmetz-photography
  16. 16 http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/05/china/aerials/steinmetz-photography
  17. 17 http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/05/china/aerials/steinmetz-photography
  18. 18 http://www.flickr.com/people/ecstaticist/
  19. 19 http://2photo.ru/2008/11/12/s_vysoty_ptichego_poleta__evan_leeson.html
  20. 20 http://flickr.com/people/84853337@N00/
  21. 21 http://flickr.com/photos/84853337@N00/351062270/
  22. 22 http://flickr.com/people/lozinho/
  23. 23 http://flickr.com/photos/lozinho/3119775595/
  24. 24 http://www.flickr.com/photos/lozinho/158635464/
  25. 25 http://flickr.com/photos/lozinho/437324950/
  26. 26 http://www.flickr.com/photos/michi_p/
  27. 27 http://www.flickr.com/photos/michi_p/1543561453/
  28. 28 http://www.andrewstrain.com
  29. 29 http://www.jpgmag.com/photos/262510/
  30. 30 http://www.thelongbrake.com/blog/
  31. 31 http://weheartit.com/entry/84032
  32. 32 http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/places/enlarge/sanfrancisco-golden-gate-bridge.html#
  33. 33 http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/places/enlarge/sanfrancisco-golden-gate-bridge.html#
  34. 34 http://www.flickr.com/photos/zakster/
  35. 35 http://www.flickr.com/photos/70107352@N00/429101997/
  36. 36 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/12/2008_the_year_in_photographs_p.html
  37. 37 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/12/2008_the_year_in_photographs_p.html
  38. 38 http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view_rec.php?id=2876
  39. 39 http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view_rec.php?id=2876
  40. 40 http://www.hyd-masti.com/2008/12/exceptionally-beautiful-photographs.html
  41. 41 http://www.hyd-masti.com/2008/12/exceptionally-beautiful-photographs.html
  42. 42 http://www.yannarthusbertrand2.org/
  43. 43 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/10/earth_from_above_comes_to_nyc.html
  44. 44 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/10/earth_from_above_comes_to_nyc.html
  45. 45 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/10/earth_from_above_comes_to_nyc.html
  46. 46 http://www.yannarthusbertrand2.org/
  47. 47 http://flickr.com/people/blondepowers/
  48. 48 http://flickr.com/photos/blondepowers/2333912584/
  49. 49 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/pictures-of-the-year/3813200/Pictures-of-the-year-natural-disasters.html?image=1
  50. 50 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/pictures-of-the-year/3813200/Pictures-of-the-year-natural-disasters.html?image=1
  51. 51 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/pictures-of-the-year/3813200/Pictures-of-the-year-natural-disasters.html?image=10
  52. 52 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/pictures-of-the-year/3813200/Pictures-of-the-year-natural-disasters.html?image=10
  53. 53 http://jpgmag.com/people/MarkTantrum
  54. 54 http://jpgmag.com/photos/296330
  55. 55 http://flickr.com/photos/92706698@N00/
  56. 56 http://flickr.com/photos/92706698@N00/537350642/
  57. 57 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/06/the_sky_from_above.html
  58. 58 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/06/the_sky_from_above.html
  59. 59 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/06/the_sky_from_above.html
  60. 60 http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/06/the_sky_from_above.html
  61. 61 http://science.nationalgeographic.com/staticfiles/NGS/Shared/StaticFiles/Science/Images/Content/crater-lake-clouds-110168-xl.jpg
  62. 62 http://science.nationalgeographic.com/staticfiles/NGS/Shared/StaticFiles/Science/Images/Content/crater-lake-clouds-110168-xl.jpg
  63. 63 http://www.flickr.com/photos/colloidfarl/
  64. 64 http://www.flickr.com/photos/colloidfarl/2680613741/
  65. 65 http://www.flickr.com/photos/curiouserandcuriouser/
  66. 66 http://www.flickr.com/photos/7976232@N02/2303109439/
  67. 67 http://www.flickr.com/photos/coolskipper/
  68. 68 http://www.flickr.com/photos/14694825@N00/74376348/
  69. 69 http://www.alexmaclean.com
  70. 70 http://www.alexmaclean.com
  71. 71 http://www.alexmaclean.com
  72. 72 http://www.alexmaclean.com
  73. 73 http://www.flickr.com/photos/91501815@N00/
  74. 74 http://www.flickr.com/photos/91501815@N00/1867512182/
  75. 75 http://www.flickr.com/photos/north49/
  76. 76 http://www.wildnatureimages.com/Biography.htm
  77. 77 http://www.wildnatureimages.com/Copper_River_Delta_Photos.htm
  78. 78 http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5010
  79. 79 http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5010
  80. 80 http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5010
  81. 81 http://pixdaus.com/single.php?id=45562
  82. 82 http://pixdaus.com/single.php?id=45562
  83. 83 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27704649/displaymode/1107/s/2/framenumber/6/
  84. 84 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27704649/displaymode/1107/s/2/framenumber/6/
  85. 85 http://photojojo.com/content/diy/diy-aerial-balloon-photography/
  86. 86 http://photojojo.com/content/diy/diy-aerial-balloon-photography/
  87. 87 http://www.cheapshooter.com/2008/08/26/do-it-yourself-pole-aerial-photography/
  88. 88 http://www.prelovac.com/vladimir/pretty-blue-planet
  89. 89 http://www.lunacore.com/photoshop/tutorials/tut016.htm
  90. 90 http://www.yannarthusbertrand2.org/
  91. 91 http://www.photojpl.com/tour/08ballon/08ballon.html
  92. 92 http://www.gillesvidal.com/blogpano/cockpit1.htm
  93. 93 http://flickr.com/groups/aviewfromabove/pool/
  94. 94 http://flickr.com/groups/aerials/pool/
  95. 95 http://flickr.com/groups/from_above/pool/
  96. 96 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/06/09/beautiful-black-and-white-photography/
  97. 97 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/03/10/35-fantastic-hdr-pictures/
  98. 98 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/30/50-beautiful-examples-of-reflections-photography/
  99. 99 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/04/28/really-stunning-pictures-and-photos/
  100. 100 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/16/beautiful-examples-of-tilt-shift-photography/
  101. 101 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/07/14/let-there-be-light-light-paintings-and-sculptures/
  102. 102 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/08/24/45-beautiful-motion-blur-photos/
  103. 103 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/09/07/35-brilliant-examples-of-rain-photography/
  104. 104 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/10/19/25-beautiful-examples-of-underwater-photography/
  105. 105 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/02/when-time-freezes-50-beautiful-examples-of-freeze-photography/
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Vailancio Rodrigues is a web ninja who bakes semantic muffins. Apart from that he is also interested in Motion Graphics, Visual Effects, Photography and knows little bit of Physics due to his college education . He is from Goa - a beautiful tropical paradise in India.

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  1. 1

    Wow. this is cool…
    I’ve seen an open air exhibition of Yan Arthus Bertrand, and it was impressive!
    http://www.yannarthusbertrand.org/v2/yab_us.htm

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  2. 2

    Amazing list, keep them coming!
    I’m hoping to see ‘flexible’ looking artwork sometime soon!

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  3. 3

    amazing… another world… so high

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  4. 4

    Always a pleasure to see so many cool pics of the world from such a high angle! Keep them coming SM!!!

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  5. 5

    Wow very nice :O

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  6. 6

    Nice collection.. Some of them just really stunning with a amazing angle & view. Thanks for shearing !!

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  7. 7

    Love this collection SM! Keep them coming.

    The boats in the harbour are especially eye catching.

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  8. 8

    BeantownDesign.com

    December 21, 2008 3:40 pm

    Wow, sick!

    My favorites are the shadows, the boats, and the snowboarder. Great post!

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  9. 9

    this is so cool !

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  10. 10

    I really like the beauty of.. photography series..

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  11. 11

    Cameron Davidson

    December 21, 2008 4:26 pm

    How about Adriel Heisey, or William Garnett or George Gerster or Mary Meander or Marilyn Bridges…..

    You missed some of the best shooters in the world…….

    Nice collection but some gaping holes there.

    Cameron Davidson

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  12. 12

    powerful!..that’s how i can describe these shots..nice!

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  13. 13

    I like

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  14. 14
  15. 15

    Wonderful photos! Many more of such photos can be found in Alex McLeans new book “Over: The American Landscape at the Tipping Point “. Here is a review (german). Website: http://www.alexmaclean.com/

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  16. 16

    A my my mazing!! I hope I can try that some day

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  17. 17

    AWESOME!

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  18. 18

    These pictures are just awesome!!!!!! :)

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  19. 19

    Gorgeous pictures! Some of them are absolutely amazing!

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  20. 20

    very sweet submission today … one of the better collections i’ve seen from SM.

    i like the directly overhead shots the most … partly because they reveal a most interesting version of our world, and partly because they’re amongst the hardest to capture.

    thanks for sharing.

    cheers

    david
    http://www.davidsmeaton.com

    0
  21. 21

    Hi

    Awesome gallery… I usually practise aerial photography and it’s a challenge on each flight… Without stabilized lenses, no chances !

    You can see some of my photos here (my region : the Champagne, in France ^_^)
    Champagne Ardenne from the sky

    And certainly my most stranger arial image !

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  22. 22

    This doens’t make much sense:

    NASA’s Terra Satelite
    Glacial lakes from retreating glaciers. “A firefighting airtanker drops Phos-Check fire retardant over the Gap fire as more than 1,000 wildfires continue burning across about 680 square miles of central and northern California, on July 3, 2008 near Goleta, California”.

    Great post btw!

    0
  23. 23

    wow ..
    its really great photos sets ..
    keep continued add like this content..

    0
  24. 24

    Fantastic.

    Great post.

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  25. 25

    This is awesome!!!

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  26. 26

    Very nice pictures. Love the ones from George Steinmetz. Especially the one of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is breathtaking. Two thumbs up.

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  27. 27

    heather van de mark

    December 22, 2008 8:40 am

    what a beautiful world. great inspiration.

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  28. 28

    Wow. These are beautiful shots and inspiring. With all the crime, horror and hate in the world these are really refreshing and show how really beautiful this world is, and can be!

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  29. 29

    To see this makes my day so much better and makes me relax, It´s like all the trouble in the world just vanishes away

    Thank you very much for making my day more brighter :)

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  30. 30
  31. 31

    Thank you very much for showing us beautiful photos…
    They really touch my heart.

    0
  32. 32

    amazing..

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  33. 33
  34. 34

    amazing photos! :o you can take a look at that photos to http://www.neregetalietuva.lt/nuotraukos.php?page=2 this is from aerial photography album “neregeta lietuva”

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  35. 35

    Stunning!!

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  36. 36

    stunning.. thanks for this inspiring collection! I so appreciate the effort you put into these incredible posts.

    0
  37. 37

    Wow…Coo00000000000000ol………..

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  38. 38

    love it. Awesome collection.

    0
  39. 39

    Typo –
    NASA’s Terra Satelite
    Glacial lakes from retreating glaciers. “A firefighting airtanker drops Phos-Check fire retardant over the Gap fire as more than 1,000 wildfires continue burning across about 680 square miles of central and northern California, on July 3, 2008 near Goleta, California”.

    0
  40. 40

    Daniel Cormier

    December 24, 2008 8:48 am

    The B&W photos of the DC-4 over New York is a famous photo by Margaret Bourke-White. See here:

    http://www.gallerym.com/work.cfm?ID=99

    0

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