Lurid zig-zags of black and red cut across a green landscape at a coal mine; flocks of birds fly in formation across a pristine sky. Suburban neighborhoods form perfect circles in the countryside and tiers of a sand dunes step down from the sea to the forest. This contrast of natural and man-made patterns is what photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand saw of the world during a five-year odyssey by air over six continents.
“Earth from Above,” Bertrand’s large-scale photography series, is the result of that journey, bringing these birds-eye images of the earth to those of us who can’t embark on a similar quest. The aerial photographs capture the dazzling combination of order and chaos that is life on this planet.
Not only has Bertrand made these images available free to the public as wallpaper downloads, he has also brought his $16m film, ‘Home’, a documentary about humanity’s impact on the planet, to American cinemas at no charge to viewers. Bertrand sees it as his “gift to the world.”
“With Earth from above, I simply want people to see the Earth as it is today, as faithfully as possible,” Bertrand says. “What motivates me is the impact a photograph can make within the framework of environmental preservation. The great novelty of our time is that mankind has the power to change its environment and I want my photos to testify to this fact so people can realise this.”