George Steinmetz: Photos of Africa, taken from a flying lawn chair
George Steinmetz - Aerial photographer
Best known for his exploration photography, George Steinmetz has a restless curiosity for the unknown: remote deserts, obscure cultures and the mysteries of science and technology. Full bio
intimidating being up here,
trying to tell Africans
can see things in a different way,
all over the African continent
the spectacle of its diversity.
his way through the Ituri Forest of Zaire.
of Stanford University,
to Kisangani to Cairo
on 10 dollars a day.
in this Dinka cattle camp
how to tie papyrus into a shelter,
how they had adapted their way of life
of their beloved cattle.
in ecological ethnography,
ride on the roof of the trucks,
going across South Sudan.
on the back of an insect
tapestry of Africa.
if I could fly over that landscape
a professional photographer,
in the central Sahara,
of flying machine.
and slowest aircraft.
and a parachute-style wing,
I can fly for about two hours,
is it gives me an unobstructed view,
of flying over Africa came true
passing out in the middle of the Sahara.
is carrying salt out of the desert,
is carrying fodder
this kind of picture
with too much downdraft,
aircraft I was flying
remote parts of the African landscape
really been possible before.
but I am not some kind of adventure dude.
and I only fly to take pictures.
is between 200 and 500 feet,
over the years in Africa,
20 minutes of battery life
is what's on a little screen.
and find new things, find weird stuff,
on my left leg,
a mile above takeoff.
is actually your friend,
to figure out your problems.
I figured this gave me more time
I started taking pictures,
by a Harmattan wind
right hand corner of this picture,
the entire crater with sand.
I found a different kind of volcano.
exteriors stripped away,
with its living skin stripped away.
by an enormous freshwater aquifer.
sometimes you can see it leaking out.
through those palm groves,
out of your footsteps.
it's saltier than seawater
a different kind of desert spring.
with spring water
it turned into a spectacle of color.
for looking at agriculture.
in southern Algeria,
how to garden in a mobile dune field
have adapted to the African landscape.
the shallow lake water up
with their long trunks,
how to thrive in an environment
by the dense coastal fog
to understand what causes them.
crater lake in its summit at 3,700 meters.
between Rwanda and Congo.
for the fabled mountain gorilla.
the big money-maker in Rwanda,
conservation has become a huge success.
rural population density in Africa,
of the country I went to.
that competition for land
that led to the tensions
a few years ago,
how much things had changed.
with their cattle,
their spears for Kalashnikovs.
were even more spectacular
but things had changed there too.
their papyrus shelters
have learned how to thrive
of the Niger River.
and the water subsides,
in the fertile bottoms.
in the lower right corner,
for the major trade routes
their roofs and the village mosque.
villages like this along the Niger River,
it had a different pattern.
a sculptural masterpiece,
and nothing can really compare
and cultural adaptations to them
into the earliest waves
mountains of Libya,
in 700 BC, as a learning center,
in what's now Algeria
for old Roman soldiers,
the breadbasket for the Roman Empire.
it was buried in sand,
was wetter than it is today.
came barreling out of the Sahara
date palms in snow,
throwing snowballs at each other.
how are Africans going to adapt
climate going forward?
and diverse as Africa,
that the only constant is change.
are the ultimate improvisers,
About the speaker:George Steinmetz - Aerial photographer
Best known for his exploration photography, George Steinmetz has a restless curiosity for the unknown: remote deserts, obscure cultures and the mysteries of science and technology.
Why you should listen
Since 1986, George Steinmetz has completed more than 40 major photo essays for National Geographic and 25 stories for GEO magazine in Germany, exploring the most remote stretches of Arabia's Empty Quarter to the unknown tree people of Irian Jaya. His expeditions to the Sahara and Gobi deserts have been featured in separate "National Geographic Explorer" programs. In 2006 he was awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation to document the work of scientists in the Dry Valleys and volcanoes of Antarctica.
Steinmetz began his career in photography after hitchhiking through Africa for 28 months. He then spent fifteen years photographing all of the world’s extreme deserts while piloting a motorized paraglider. This experimental aircraft enables him to capture unique images of the world, inaccessible by traditional aircraft and most other modes of transportation. He has authored four books, and his current project is documenting the challenge of meeting humanity’s rapidly expanding demand for food.
George Steinmetz | Speaker | TED.com