Desert Air: George Steinmetz

Reading Time: 2 minutes

For the past fifteen years, National Geographic photographer, George Steinmetz, has been photographing many of the world’s “hyperarid” regions as part of an upcoming book, called Desert Air. These regions are characterized by their extreme lack of water and, for George, the only way to really capture the severity of the landscape is from the air. But, rather than hiring a plane and leaning out the window, Steinmetz flies himself, in a motorized paraglider, the world’s lightest powered aircraft. Think of it as a parachute with a motor strapped to Steinmetz’ back and you have a pretty good idea. For more than 25 years, Steinmetz has piloted his ridiculously small craft over some of the harshest environments Earth has to offer and has returned with absolutely spectacular photographs. The idea for Desert Air came to him in the 90s, while flying his paraglider over the Sahara. Since then, he has traveled to more than 27 countries, photographing desert features such as sand dunes, salt lakes, and wind erosion, as well as the disparate peoples who live and thrive in these often barren environments. Desert Air represents only a small part of Steinmetz’ incredible body of work, which is available as posters, books and even an iPad app.

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