Photoessay: Urban aerial

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Nowhere is our collective societal impact on the planet quite as marked as when you view earth from the air – and whilst there’s probably some truth to those who think we’re going to ruin it through pollution, over extraction, global warming and the like – honestly, it’s much more pleasant to look at the view and just allow yourself to be a little bit amazed by what’s below you. I’ve always had a slightly odd feeling looking at places from the air – there’s scale, and at the same time, there isn’t. Small towns seem very much smaller; constricted, limited almost; large cities seem either daunting or filled with endless possibility. It may be a question of distance – if you don’t see the grittiness, it’s the latter. If you’re too close to the ground, it’s the former. Whatever it is – sometimes we literally need some perspective… MT

This series was collected over about a year and shot with a mix of cameras including the Hasselblad H6D-100c; H5D-50c and DJI Mavic Pro. All images were processed with Photoshop Workflow III.

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Ultraprints from this series are available on request here


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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | 2012 onwards unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved


  1. Speaking of helicopters, watch yourself Ming! Too many accidents lately. Including my brother in law. His widow is rich but it’s not what she wanted!

  2. Your photography is so consistantly good. I am always impressed when I view your work. Wonderful set, sir.

  3. Great pics as usual Ming. Which is the city in the title image?

  4. Am I the last person on this planet to think that there are just too many people? We’re taxing everything and especially the planet. Now China is about to allow it’s citizens to have more than 2 children. Soon we will run out of water ( for the poor ), food and clean air. The airports are a mess and the trip to the airport and customs takes longer than the flight itself. People are getting fatter and the plane seats are getting smaller. The hotels have to be booked one year in advance in interesting places. The waiting lines are 3 hours at the Louvre, Eifel tower and any of the great Italian monuments. Same with popular restaurants. All the “decent” hotels are at least $ 250./night. Good luck to today’s teenagers……..

    As my grandfather used to say, ” why would anyone want to travel when it’s so nice at home?”

    Oh, and by the way, 1 trillion photos will be taken this year! Kodak and Fuji wish digital had never been invented!

    • No, not just you – the irony of having to line up and be squashed in a plane with hundreds of others to find some empty space on the other end isn’t lost on me either…I only travel these days if I absolutely have to; in the last five years it’s become an increasingly unpleasant experience.

  5. Said AZIZI says:

    Great set ! It’s good to see that there is some green space in your city. In Casablanca (Morocco) or any other city for that matter, you only see concrete, buildings (Badly designed) and ads !

    • Thanks – it’s increasingly going that way here, too. I flew back home a couple of days ago and found to my dismay that a good quarter of the gazetted nature reserve opposite my apartment has been cleared (the bit we can’t quite see) which almost certainly means more apartments 😦

  6. These are amazing! Love them!

  7. Nice! Very nice.

  8. Please relieve my ignorance of drone photography. When you produce your striking aerial images are they single still shots? Or frame grabs from a continuing stream of video? Do you hover in place for the shot? Have you written a post on drone technique that I missed?

    • Single images processed from raw; a video stream has nowhere near enough resolution (and the stills are low enough resolution as it is). You have to hover in place or risk motion blur. There’s a series of articles on drone work here, though nothing specific on technique.

      • Thanks. I had marvelled at the images within those posts but it finally dawned upon me (never having used a drone) that the step-by-step process remained a mystery.

  9. Excellent set. The shots of London, in mixed light, and Terminal 5 (B or C satellite, I think) are easy favourites. I’m guessing you’ve spent a little time hanging out of the side of a helicopter.

  10. Still amazed that you can get such great shots from commercial airliners 🙂

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