by Editor Rob Darby
“When you enter the realm of the birds, the world becomes abstract.
Shapes, patterns, curves, lines and the intricate play of light, shadow and colour
Dominate this world.
This is when you can let your mind roam free
And the poetry of your imagination takes over.” (Author Unknown)
This description was attached to an aerial abstract I saw during the curation process some time ago.
There is something magical that happens when we are freed from the shackles of our terrestrial world. Whether looking down from plane, rising in a hot air balloon, hovering in a helicopter, or seeing through the camera of a drone, there is no denying that a birds-eye view of a landscape is distinctly different from the one we see as land-bound bipeds.
Patterns that aren’t visible from ground level reveal themselves when our perspective changes from the horizontal to the vertical. Roads become graceful threads cutting through a forest, rivers can look like braids of hair woven into the landscape, flocks of birds form abstract shapes, fields are transformed into geometric art, and the mundane can become the sublime.
Aerial abstracts have become a popular genre with the advent of drones and the increasing popularity of light aircraft and helicopters as conduits for intrepid photographers drawn toward the sky to see the Earth from a different perspective.
I have been a window-seat flyer for as long as I can remember. My younger self was fascinated by how the world changed as the airplane rose higher: each altitude offered a unique perspective of the world below. Farm land became colorful palettes of circles and squares, rivers became graceful curves or tight coils carved into the land, cities became islands of light…This was before my obsession with photography would lead me to aerial abstracts as a favorite genre, albeit one which will be a lifelong journey of learning to execute more effectively.
In curating images for this article, I found it hard to choose among the many sublime and unique aerial abstract images created by the 1X community. There are so many! I also attempted to select a variety of images that captured the many types of aerial abstracts: landscapes, city scapes, rivers, fields, lakes, birds, animals...the list goes on.
Every aerial image is a piece of art unique to that moment in time and space. Some aerial abstracts stop you and force you to ask: what is that? Others present a common subject in a way that you have never seen. And still others stop you cold, and the only poetry in words you can find is: “that is utterly beautiful.”