American photographer Scott Mead captures the wonders of the world above the clouds while travelling on planes. An exhibition of works from his book, Above the Clouds, is at Hamiltons Gallery, London, until 19 January. All proceeds from print sales and the book will be donated to Great Ormond Street children’s charity
Light and Shadow Off Long Island, New York
Ever since my first journey above the clouds, many years ago, I have found gazing out plane windows deeply inspiring. For me, the journey is more than just a means to a destination.Notes about the frames: The frames are central to the effect I am trying to create. The photos you see are of the actual frames which were developed with John Jones to create a shape that suggests a plane window, but with proportions and inner curves that allow the viewer a better perspective than a typical plane window or indeed typical frame.
Pastel morning, New York Departure
Over time, I began to notice that the moments of insight, stretches of sustained thought, and feelings of freedom on plane journeys often seemed deeper and richer than those occurring on land. There was a stillness and peace above the clouds that enabled me to connect more fully with my inner self, encouraged by the endless horizon just outside and the limitless potential it suggested.
Plateau, Natural Abstraction, New Mexico
One of the joys of gazing out of windows is the almost unlimited variety of form, shape and structure. This image, taken near the Grand Canyon, suggests abstract expressionist works or even Monet’s water lilies.
River Thames Fading into Mist, Early Morning, London
This image of the Thames is the last banking turn of the plane prior to final approach to Heathrow after an overnight flight from New York. I waited until the silvery river aligned as I was hoping and took one image. There are many familiar landmarks here, but the gradual disappearance of the Thames into the clouds and mist is what struck me. The diptych format allows the viewer to concentrate on the left side with its familiar sights while the right shows the majestic curve of the river in a more pure form.
French Alps, En Route to Morocco
These photos are often taken at 500mph though several layers of sometimes scratched glass in strong light, so there are technical aspects of transforming them into the images you see here. However, all these photographs were taken on scheduled commercial flights, so other than departure and destination points, one surrenders control and needs to be open to light, views, landscape and experiences as they come to you – sort of like life itself.
The Andes Fading into Misty Sunset
The shape of the Andes, the warm sunset and the soft mist evokes tranquillity and peace and brings to an end a long journey which came after a long flight, in this case from London.
Cloudscape Over Massachusetts
This cloudscape leads the eye through its expanse, starting at the bottom of the image, where the clouds seem soft and almost within reach, to the few distant mountains jutting through the clouds in the distance. I waited for the interplay of light, cloud and horizon to come together, to define the edges and troughs of the clouds, which it eventually did.
Peaceful Pacific, Final Approach, Lima
The gentle, rolling waves of the open Pacific Ocean off Peru lead into a peaceful emptiness highlighted by the transition from the darker waters in the foreground to the lighter colours towards the top, reflecting the sun. In this image, moments from landing at Lima airport, one can lose oneself in the silver rhythm of these uninterrupted shapes.
Day into Night, New York
This is the moment in New York when the day ends and yields to the energetic, glowing lights of the city and its bridges. This image, so peaceful, is in stark contrast to the intensity and bustle of the streets below, as is so often the case with Above the Clouds. It makes everything seem manageable. The image was taken on a shuttle flight to Boston. I wasn’t in a window seat so after quickly explaining my artistic goals, the person next to me very kindly let me lean over and take this image.
Source: The Guardian.