The extraordinary aerial photography of Bernhard Lang
For over a decade Munich-based photographer Bernhard Lang has been working on a massively impressive project called Aerial Views. From the abstract spectacle of solar power plants in the United States to the dense urban jungle of Manila, Lang has extensively explored our world from above. New Atlas spoke to Lang to uncover his favorite images from a decade of stunning snaps.
In 2010, after being inspired by the gorgeous abstraction of landscapes when looking down from above in a passenger plane, Bernhard Lang began an ongoing aerial art project. Since then, Lang has traveled from Europe to Africa to the United States, capturing a broad variety of landscapes from above, and winning an array of awards along the way.
When Lang first began his aerial photography project commercial drones were only just reaching the market. Despite rapid evolutions in drone technology over recent years Lang still prefers getting in a plane or helicopter to capture his images.
“I wouldn't say that I generally don't like drones,” Lang tells New Atlas. “There are many areas where drones make more sense than taking pictures from an aircraft. For me personally, I prefer to take photos from aircraft because the question of permits is better clarified. There are often many legal restrictions on drone flights. A pilot of an aircraft knows exactly where, how high or how low he is allowed to fly. In addition, the resolution of the chip of my medium format camera and the quality of the lenses is significantly better compared to a consumer drone.”
Lang’s work primarily focuses on geometric patterns and interesting color contrasts. However, his subjects are not solely chosen based on aesthetic values. His work almost always offers an investigation into the interactions between humans and nature.
“I am trying to find locations which are having visually interesting graphic structures, a richness in details and interesting colors,” Lang explains. “Besides the aesthetic aspect, I am also trying to find places covering global and environmental relevant issues.”
Not every project goes to plan. In 2017 Lang visited Manilla, in the Philippines, with a plan to fly over the city and capture a striking perspective of an extraordinarily overpopulated urban environment. The photographs he ultimately ended up taking were certainly not what he originally envisioned.
"I traveled there to capture an aerial views project about overpopulation,” says Lang. “The night before the photo flight I saw from my hotel room a huge fire in the city directly at one of the areas where we wanted to fly over to photograph. The next morning when we were flying over this slum area we saw that this quarter was completely burned down. It was dramatic to see people crawling through their destroyed homes, trying to find any of their belongings.”
In 2015 Lang won one of the world’s most prestigious photography competitions, the Sony World Photography Awards. The winning photo-set looked at the immense scale of tourism on the beaches of Italy. The incredible patterns created by sun-umbrella formations on tourist beaches has often fascinated Lang, and he has returned to the subject several times over the years. One of his all-time favorite images is a triptych of sun-umbrella patterns captured in the resort town of Versilia, an Italian resort town in Tuscany.
“The arrangements of the parasols on an Italian beach and the coloring look interesting, and for me the image has a special positive expression, that makes me think of vacation, sun, beach and sea,” Lang adds.
Take a look through our gallery at more of Bernhard Lang’s incredible aerial photography.