28 Jan 2015

Beautiful, Troubling Photos Show Our Planet as Astronauts See It

The Overview Effect is a phenomenon often experienced by astronauts in outer space. Peering down at the earth from far away, people suddenly see our planet as a tiny, fragile oasis in the void. Our world is no longer the biggest thing in our universe, and those who have experienced this say it’s easy to feel an overwhelming need to protect the “pale blue dot.”
In Daily Overview, Benjamin Grant wants to help those of us who will never travel to space have a similar experience. He scrolls through Google Earth, choosing the most visually compelling satellite images of man and nature—congested metropolises, stunning empty wilderness, and monstrous mining operations. He hopes that the pictures will help us understand the beauty of Earth and the serious impact we’ve already had on it. 
“What I’m really trying to get across here is that we’ve entered an important time in human history where our home has been significantly altered,” he says.
Grant has created an effective system for finding the most fascinating images: He ties his searches to current events or environmental issues he’s been thinking about. The final step is a little color correction, which Grant uses to emphasize the image much like a photojournalist would tweak a RAW file coming out of their camera.
“All together a search like that can take 45 minutes to an hour, but it’s worth it because the right image gets across the fact that we’re chopping down massive amounts of trees,” he says.
Grant realizes the images can create conflicting emotions in viewers. These photos of shrinking ice sheets, choked ports, and crowded cities are beautiful enough to hang on your wall. The aerial image of a Kenyan refugee camp is absolutely gorgeous, yet utterly gut wrenching. Grant’s OK with this contradiction because it makes people think.
“When people see the images, they want to know more,” he says.
Grant’s gained quite a following—more than 20,000 followers on Instagram check in daily to see his latest images. He’s been posting one photo a day for over a year now and is talking to DigitalGlobe (which provides much of the imagery to Google) about using its servers so he has direct access to, and permission to use, everything its satellites have ever captured.
Daily Overview is showing at the Deutsches Museum in Munich until January 2016. Grant plans to use such exhibitions and a possible upcoming book to raise money for environmental causes, and hopefully keep inspiring people to care for our planet a little bit more.



























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