Tag Archives: Aerial Photographs

Flooded, Uprooted, Burned: The Tracks of Sandy on the Shore

After TIME commissioned me, along with four other photographers, to capture Hurricane Sandy using Instagram, I and many of my colleagues felt a deep personal need to go back and document the aftermath. I’ve covered disasters in other parts of our country, but this is my hometown, and Sandy was a storm of historical significance. I’ve often found that there is great power in telling difficult stories in a beautiful way. Interest in any given story wanes so quickly, yet it’s only through taking the time to go deeper that we get to a place of real understanding. I had to return to this story, and I wanted try to comprehend the scale of this storm. The only way for me to capture Sandy’s destructive fury was from above.

Stephen Wilkes for TIME

Storm surges over power the coastal areas and flood the streets during low tide in Milford, CT.

On the Sunday after Sandy made landfall, I decided to rent a helicopter and fly over some of the most devastated areas, including the New Jersey shore, Breezy Point and Far Rockaway. It was a beautiful day to fly, but unfortunately that beauty quickly eroded into shock as we began to get close to the coasts. It was everything I’d heard about, but it was difficult to believe what I was actually seeing. Once we got above the shoreline, I really started to understand the scale of the destruction. The expanse of land it ruined, the totality of the devastation — it was like a giant mallet had swung in circles around the area. It was mind numbing.

When I got home that night, the images still in my mind made it impossible to sleep. Through various points of this storm, it felt like we were all living through a science fiction movie. Seeing these devastated towns from above showed the cold reality of this storm’s severity.

From above, I realized how close particular neighborhoods were to bays or oceans. Sometimes, it was a matter of two blocks, and it’s a proximity not immediately apparent when you’re on the ground. In Breezy Point, for example, I knew that more than 80 homes had burned down in a fire, but nothing could have prepared me for what I actually saw. The blackened and charred blocks of homes viewed as a giant physical scar across the landscape. Seeing how much land was affected and yet how many homes were saved, made me think of the firefighters and how hard they must have worked just to contain this fire.

In flying over Staten Island, I was really struck by the marina, and how the boats were physically lifted from the pier and tossed together. It looked like a child’s game—huge, 40-ft. boats being thrown around like toys. We then flew over Oakwood, where I saw a house that had been lifted and dragged through a field of cattails; its path clearly visible days later, having left a trail of destruction through the cattails.

Sandy was a warning shot. I’ve had a unique view of what’s happened on a physical level. But the emotional toll has yet to be measured. It’s my hope that these images serve as a wakeup call — whether that call is about global warming, infrastructure, or just the recognition that the world is changing, it’s a reminder that we need to take special care of our fragile world.


Stephen Wilkes is a fine-art and commercial photographer based in New York. Wilkes was awarded the Photo District News Award of Excellence in 2011 and 2012.

Wilkes’ work will be part of Art for Sandy, a fundraising initiative to support Sandy relief that’s being hosted by 20×200 and TIME.



Neal Rantoul

When one thinks about booking a ferry ticket to Martha’s Vineyard, we imagine the experience of island life, beginning with the moment when the boat meets the dock.  It’s a place filled with families, sun bathers, sun bleached houses, dunes, ocean smells, and memories.  Photographer Neal Rantoul, known for his exquisite black and white imagery, wants us to see the islands differently, to appreciate why we made that ferry trip in the first place. He has created a beautiful body of aerial work exploring the islands from above, Aerial photographs of Martha’s Vineyard, and the full series of 23 images has been selected by the Center for
Creative Photography in Tucson, AZ for their permanent collection. 
Neal has a stunning resume. Recently retired from 30 years as head of the Photo Program at Northeastern University in
Boston, he is now devoting his efforts full time to making new pictures and
bringing earlier work to a national and international audience. With
over 50 one-person exhibitions over the length of his career, Neal is
working presently on two new shows for the fall/winter 2012/2013 – one at the Danforth Museum in Framingham, MA opening in November and
another at the Panopticon Gallery in
Boston, in early November. These two exhibitions will emphasize his Wheat Field work, pictures made over the past 15 years from “The
Palouse” in eastern Washington.

 In addition to the work featured today of Martha’s Vineyard, Neal will have aerial work of sand dunes in California and Arizona in Panopticon Gallery’s Summer Extravaganza which opens tomorrow and runs through September 11th. 

Sand Dunes

Neal’s work is extensively collected and is included in numerous
prestigious collections such as the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the
Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in
Lincoln, MA, the Kunsthaus in Zurich, the Biblioteque’ Nationale in
Paris, the High Museum in Atlanta, the Fogg Museum in Cambridge, The
Princeton University Museum, The RI School of Design Museum of Art, The
Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, The Boston Atheneum, etc. 
His work is also in the corporate collections of the JP Morgan Guaranty
Trust and Fidelity Investments, as well as numerous private collections.
He is the recipient of many awards, grants and residencies including a
Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation grant, Lightwork and Hambidge
Center for the Arts residencies, Visiting Artist at ICP’s Lake Como
Workshop in Italy, among others.  Needless to say, he’s a photo rock star.

Images from Aerial photographs of Martha’s Vineyard
I have spent my entire life exploring the island of Martha’s Vineyard. 
From the age of one, my family had a home on the island that, for me,
represents the idea of summer and all things family.  I have had a
ringside seat on the island to witness changes due to weather,
over-development, and increased population, but it wasn’t until I began
an aerial project that the evidence was so clear to me. These aerial
photographs of the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Chappaquiddick were
made this spring as part of a larger project photographing the islands
off the coast of the state. My motivation with these pictures is to
bring exposure to parts of the island that are unbuilt upon as the
island has been very developed over the past twenty years or so. Most of
these are from the interior and south shore

Photographer #375: Gerco de Ruijter

Gerco de Ruijter, 1961, The Netherlands, is a landscape photographer with a unique perspective. His aerial photographs are taken on a analogue camera hanging from a kite or sometimes on a long fishing rod. He studied painting and the first images were supposed to be used as studies for his artwork. He soon found the photographic images much more intriguing. One of his latest series is Baumschule and focuses on tree nurseries. The images are composed geomatrically. The distance from the subject helps to create the impression of an abstract painting. Gerco considers his best images to be those where recognizable reality meets abstraction. He has a lot of control on what will be on his photographs by making clear choices. The small part he doesn’t control is fixed by framing in a way to achieve the best result. He has traveled to Iceland, Dubai, USA and various places in Holland for his photography. The following images come from the series Baumschule, 2008-2011 and Transfer.


Website: www.gercoderuijter.com