During a new 10-minute TED Talk, famed National Geographic aerial photographer George Steinmetz talks about his experiences photographing Africa while flying around in a motorized paraglider. This vantage point gives Steinmetz a unique look at the world below, including its various cultures and landscapes.
The motorized paraglider is composed of a wing in the style of a parachute and a backpack motor, holding 10 liters of fuel and offering a speed up to 30MPH / 48KPH. Steinmetz explains that he gets a flight time of about two hours, during which he gets an “unobstructed view both horizontally and vertically.”
“It dawned on me that this crazy little aircraft I was flying would open up a new way of seeing remote parts of the African landscape in a way that had never really been possible before,” Steinmetz explains in the video, pointing out that a typical airplane moves too fast for this type of photography, and a helicopter is too loud with too much downdraft.
He goes on to introduce a video of how the paraglider works before highlighting some of the most striking aerial footage and photos taken from it.
For most of us, a drone presents photographers with the closest we can get to Steinmetz style of capture, but that’s still not quite the same as a paraglider. As Steinmetz explains in the video, the motorized paraglider’s long flight time and capabilities makes it possible to not just photograph the immediate landscape, but explore the wider world around it.
Check out the full video above for a dose of Friday inspiration.