Bird's-Eye View What Germany Looks Like from the Sky

A disused mine. A public swimming pool. Berlin's television tower. Hardly scintillating stuff. But as photographer Gerhard Launer's new book makes clear, when photographed from above, Germany looks completely different.

Gerhard Launer / Frederking & Thaler Verlag / München

Fairytale castles. Half-timbered houses. Rolling countryside full of colorful fields. The sights of Germany are well known and well documented. One might think.

Yet when seen from above, many of the country's best known sights, and plenty of other more hidden gems, look completely different. And German photographer Gerhard Launer has made it his mission to capture them all. His new book, "Deutschland: Entdeckung von Oben" (Germany: Discovery from Above), includes a selection of some of the most dramatic images.

"I have the opportunity to see things from a perspective that most people never have," Launer said in a 2006 television documentary about his work. "I see some things differently from the way I imagined they'd be from the ground."

The results are often inspiring. Intricate patterns carved into farm fields by the meanderings of a tractor. The unexpected splendor of a disused coal mine. The natural beauty of Germany's northern coastline.

Launer's images are the product of up to eight hours a day behind the controls of his Cessna. He says that when he first started photographing Germany from the sky almost 30 years ago, he tried working together with a pilot. But ultimately, he took over the cockpit himself and now works alone, flying and taking pictures with a specially rigged camera simultaneously.

Now, decades later, Launer says there is hardly a corner of Germany that he hasn't flown over and photographed.

Deutchland: Entdeckung von Oben, Gerhard Launer, Frederking & Thaler, 300 pages, €49.95, is available at Amazon.


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