Photographer for National Geographic and NY Times Magazine, creating an aerial perspective on climate change and global food supply @feedtheplanet
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The Sanctuary of the Queen of Sheba was partially excavated in 2004, when Yemen was a more peaceful place than it is today. The legendary Sabean leader is mentioned in both the Bible and he Koran, and ruled over a center of agriculture based on a dam that controlled seasonal rains to irrigate the Arabian desert. The site was first excavated by the American adventurer Wendell Phillips in the 1950s, but has been inundated several times since by windblown sand. As seen from my motorized paraglider.
The temples of Palenque are considered the most beautiful of all Mayan ruins, with some of the finest architecture, sculpture, and carvings in Mesoamerica. But with less than 10% of the complex explored, more than a thousand structures are still covered by jungle.
The miraculous oasis of Ounianga Serir in the Central Sahara of Chad is fed fresh water by an ancient aquifer from a time when the Sahara was a savannah. The lakes have slightly different elevations, and the higher ones are less salty. Maps from aerial surveys in 1954 show the lakes being larger and more connected, indicating that the water level has dropped. Seen here is the lowest lake, which is punctuated by ship-like islands of Nubian sandstone that were used as refuges by the local Tubu in times of attack. #DesertAirBook
Camel caravan crossing the Ténéré Desert of Niger with loads of salt for distribution to markets across West Africa. I took this picture in 1997 from my paramotor, which allowed a new perspective on this ancient trade route. It was a year of good rains which made an unusually large number of camels healthy enough for the two month-long round trip to the oasis of Bilma. #AfricanAirBook
Angel Falls, at 4209 ft. is the world’s tallest waterfall. I went there at the generous invitation of @franciscosalasroche, who had seen my pictures on Instagram and offered to fly me around Venezuela in his Cessna. How amazing is that! I don’t know if he quite knew what he was getting into, but we had an intensive week of flying in the far south of his native land. Slide right to see the second Cessna near the bottom of the falls, and swipe again to see my son @johncsteinmetz triggering the wing mounted GoPro. #onassignment for @NYTMag
Wind-blown green algae now clogs fish traps every summer in the shallows of China’s Lake Taihu. Increasing water temperatures combined with agricultural and sewer run off have turned this into a predictable summer occurrence. Not IG like-able, or well-known. @NYTMag @pulitzercenter #LosingEarth #climatechange
The volcanic crater of Arakao lies half-buried in sand on the edge of the Sahara in Niger. I don’t like flying this high, but I had to gain about 5,000 ft. in my paramotor to get the whole crater in the frame of my widest lens. I had taken off before sunrise, and went full power for about an hour to get this high. Suddenly my 🇫🇷 wingman François appeared in front of me, to prove that he could fly even higher than I could. Boys will be boys!
Shore-based fishing for salmon follows the tides in Egegik, Alaska. For the commercial fisherfolk of Bristol Bay these are best of times, with both prices and catches reaching new highs, but the success of this well-managed fishery is now threatened by plans for the massive #PebbleMine upstream. As seen last month, on assignment for @natgeo
Rapeseed flowers blanket the terraces near Luoping in China. The annual blossoming has become a huge tourist attraction, with fleets of buses jamming the roads and tripod entanglements on the hilltops at sunrise. I took off with my paramotor before sunrise, and went over the ridge to have this valley view all to myself. I ran out of fuel on the way back, but this nice kid with a trike carried my glider back to the road. #carpediem
An extended family of elephants makes its way to a morning swim in Amboseli National Park, Kenya, where they are well protected. The worldwide ban on the ivory trade has allowed Kenya's elephant population to rebound. Keeping the CITES ban on elephant products will make for many more Happy World Elephant Days like today. #AfricanAirBook #worldelephantday
Thikse monastery in Ladakh, India, is the finest example of Buddhist monastic architecture in the Indus River Valley. This photo was taken during morning prayers, when the sound of my paramotor drew a couple of monks out onto the roof to look at the cold and crazy guy flying overhead. It was sketchy to launch at 12,000 ft in the Himalaya, but it would be even more complicated now with the tense security situation in adjacent Kashmir. #CarpeDiem #Himalaya #Buddhism
Just after the fall of Gaddafi I went to Libya for @natgeo to photograph a country in transition. I was fascinated with the juxtaposition of Arab traditions in a modern context. My interpreter wisely refused to go with me when I photographed family life on the beaches of Tripoli, so I tried to be discrete with my camera, which was awkward as the solitary foreigner. If you really want the picture, it’s usually easier to get forgiveness than to get permission!