Photo Ideas: create a fake aerial photo of a city square

Create a fake aerial photo

Create a fake aerial photo

Image copyright Adam Magyar

Are you looking for interesting, new photo ideas to try out? Here’s one you can try in your local town centre.

Fine-art photographer Adam Magyar wanted to capture aerial shots of a city square from a great height, but the perfect location didn’t seem to exist. Without a city to help him, he decided to make a composite photo.

“I knew what image I wanted,” he says, “but no city had what I wanted to see. That’s when I decided to create that image.”

Create a fake aerial photo

Image copyright Adam Magyar

Adam’s artificial aerial images are assembled from hundreds of photos. Each person in the picture passed by the same spot on a walkway at different times, and they were shot from a pedestrian bridge just a few metres above. “The key to creating the illusion,” Adam says, “is the precise creation of perspective.

“To achieve this, the shots had to be taken from various angles, so I made sketches and measurements of how much I had to move between the shots. The larger the difference between the angles, the lower the optical height will be in the resulting image.”

To do it yourself…

Step 1
Find a bridge over a busy walkway. The path below needs to be clean and uniform, or stand-out defects will be revealed as a pattern.

Step 2
Identify a target, then mount a camera on a tripod and position it so that it’s pointing down at 90°. Aim the centre crosshair at the target.

Step 3
Zoom in so that the passing pedestrians fill the frame, and shoot them as they pass below.

Step 4
Move the tripod to the left (and later to the right) by a few inches and shoot again, altering the camera angle to aim at the same target.

Step 5
Repeat the process several times, then combine all of your shots in Photoshop.

Or, for a visual guide of how he did this, check out the videos below from his presentation to the Society for Photographic Education conference in Atlanta last year.

How to create a fake aerial photo, part 1 on Vimeo.

How to create a fake aerial photo, part 2 on Vimeo.