Cameras

7,500-Foot Photo Shoot Reveals NYC's "Brain"

Vincent Laforet's photos of NYC's "synapses" will excite yours.

Credit: Vincent Laforet

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Here's New York City as you've never seen it before.

Vincent Laforet's "Air" (or "Gotham 7.5K") photo shoot has resulted in some of the most incredible, larger-than-life images of the Big Apple in years, becoming an overnight sensation.

The angular, top-down images highlight the synapse-like structure and architectural majesty of the the city's skyscrapers, and the eye-popping colors offer an incredible, contrasting array of urban patterns and textures. It's hard not to think of Ridley Scott's iconic Blade Runner when looking at these pictures.

Laforet—a filmmaker and photographer—packed his multiple decades of "photo mission" experience (and some serious photo gear) into a helicopter and soared to 7,500 feet—just above jetliners landing at JFK, LGA, and Newark airports. Secured in a body harness, he actually hung out of the helicopter at altitude to capture these images.

The high-contrast nighttime photos are not only a testament to Laforet's talent, they're also a beautiful homage to New York architecture.

His description of the mission as both "exhilarating and terrifying" seems, well, understated. Allegedly, the demanding height was unsuitable for helicopter flight—a chilling prospect—but while the risks of such a pursuit are obvious, so are the rewards.

As you might expect, the photo-flight required "extensive planning and special clearances." The helicopter's position had to be coordinated alongside incoming/outgoing airliners. Laforet mentions that while he took aerial photos from this height once before, it was over a desert during the day.

The height requirements were extreme enough that one of Laforet's veteran pilots "refused to go up to the altitude we were at."

The images were captured with a Canon 1DX and the Mamiya Leaf Credo 50 MP. According to Laforet, those big guns were necessary to overcome the helicopter's vibrations. Both cameras are capable of clean (noise-free) shots up to 3200 and 6400 ISO, which allowed him to achieve the required shutter speeds.

You can check out a bunch more of these awesome photos (and Laforet's previous work with city and nature scenes) here.