In January, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Vincent Laforet released a collection of aerial photographs of New York City taken from an open helicopter door at an astounding 7,500 feet above the ground.
Laforet’s newest collection of photographs, titled “AIR: Sin City 10.8K,” show the bright lights of Las Vegas from an even higher altitude.
It took the helicopter 45 minutes to get to an elevation of 10,800 feet, or 8,799 feet above ground, Laforet explained to Business Insider. Once they reached the optimal altitude, Laforet opened the helicopter door, attached to his harness, and leaned straight down to shoot the images.
“The experience is very similar to jumping out of a plane with a parachute when you open that door,” Laforet told us. “It’s pretty harrowing to lean out and start taking pictures, and know that your harness is going to work.”
But once the door is opened, he is always pleased with what he discovers in the images.
“What’s amazing about Las Vegas is how bright it is, and how it’s this beacon in the middle of absolute nothing,” Laforet said. “It’s like you’re seeing an island in the middle of a dark ocean. As you get closer, you can see (since it is a modern city) the incredible linear nature of all the streets — it looks like this huge grid. It really looks exactly like a computer chip.”
The central strip looks like a Monopoly board game, said Laforet. “It looks like someone picked up little monopoly pieces of the Eiffel Tower and of these little hotels and placed them down,” he said. “It’s very surreal to see from the air.”
Laforet used the same equipment that he shot with in New York (cameras such as the Canon 1DX and the Mamiya Leaf Credo 50 MP) to capture the images over Las Vegas.
But because they flew at a much higher altitude this time, the pilot was required to wear an oxygen mask. Laforet even reported suffering from hypoxia near the end of the trip, and said he began to feel confused with high ISO numbers.
Since Las Vegas is surrounded by desert, Laforet said that the city looked like its very own planet from above.
“The craziest thing up there is that you’re literally in a sea of darkness,” Laforet said. “The pilot made a comment that it is like flying over the ocean because you don’t see anything around you.”
Laforet wants to take the photo series worldwide and his dream cities to shoot are: Rio de Janerio, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Paris, London, Venice, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and more.
He wants the project, which is called “Air,” to eventually grow into a more collaborative series. Laforet will begin pre-announcing when he will travel to new cities, and hopes that people will contribute to “Air” by submitting their photographs and stories to Storehouse.
Keep scrolling for a few behind-the-scenes photographs.
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