The INSIDER Summary:
- New York consultant Benjamin Grant was trying to find satellite imagery of Earth for work, but instead pulled up images of Earth, Texas.
- The beautiful image he came across inspired him to pull more satellite images, and ultimately led to his book, “Overview,” in which he uses stunning, art-like satellite imagery to start conversations about our impact on the planet.
Ever heard of the “Overview Effect?”
Essentially, it’s when astronauts, who are seeing Earth from a great distance, suddenly have a mental clarity — a new understanding on what it means to be alive, and how everything is connected.
Basically, it’s when they realize how small and insignificant we really are.
Benjamin Grant is no astronaut, but he experienced something akin to the Overview Effect when he was looking through satellite images of the world.
Grant, a consultant in New York, was trying to find satellite imagery of Earth, but instead pulled up images of Earth, Texas. “Thankfully it did that because it changed my life forever,” he said. The tiny town is surrounded by perfect circles created by pivot irrigation systems, which got Grant thinking about the Overview Effect.
“[The circles are] the result of the technology we’ve created, and our means to harness the landscape to grow crops and to get food […] I was astounded, and it led me to want to know more, and ask questions, and figure out the story behind this perfect geometry I was seeing. I think it makes sense then that I would use that visual allure as an introduction to facts and stories, and it all went from there.”
Grant is referring to his new book, “Overview,” in which he uses stunning, art-like satellite imagery to start conversations about our impact on the planet.
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Grant works with satellite company Digital Globe. He selects an area, puts in an imagery request, and then obtains all images that have been captured over his selected space.
He then receives those images in pieces, and uses Photoshop to create a composite. “Once that’s done I can treat it like a photograph, and kind of orient it, zoom, or compose it as I see fit,” he said.
He considers his work photography. “I’m definitely not a photographer in the classic sense of the word […] but I think everything that happens after the fact, once the picture has been taken, is still photography.”
“There’s cropping and composition, color contrast, and all of the enhancements after the fact. It’s a similar format, but potentially just expanding on the world of photography as we know it.”
“What’s really fascinating about this perspective, and from a photography angle, is that there is no ‘correct’ top and bottom to the images. If you’re shooting out of a helicopter you have the horizon, the sky, the ground, and it’s pretty obvious how the picture should look. But with satellite photography, since it’s kind of top-down and two dimensional, I can rotate it 360 degrees any which way, and it still looks accurate.”