Using just a drone and some post-production trickery, Aydın Büyüktaş has created a unique and strange view of the world. Oliver Atwell goes on an American road trip like no other
With such a plethora of landscape images out there, it can be hard for a photographer to know what to do to stand out. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with shooting landscapes we’ve seen before, so long as you explore fresh perspectives. Every landscape has plenty to offer and more often than not is home to secrets that have, thus far, gone unexplored.
One recent advance in technology that promises to reveal at least some of them, is the drone. It used to be that aerial photography was the preserve of those with enough money to jump on board a light aircraft and shoot the vast landscapes beneath its wings.
However, drones are now becoming affordable, meaning that more of us can finally see what the world from several hundred feet above really looks like. As drone photography becomes increasingly popular, though, we run the risk of becoming blasé to the sweeping images it provides.
Fortunately, there is one photographer who seems to have hit upon a unique approach to landscape and drone photography. Aydın Büyüktaş, a photographer from Turkey, has found himself quite the centre of attention on social media with his mind-bending depictions of the American landscape that he calls Flatlands.
Recent Hollywood fare such as Inception and Doctor Strange have seen the camera and special effects teams warping and contorting the landscape like a Möbius strip. To see this occur in a single static image, a result of Photoshop composites, is an uncommon experience. Büyüktaş’s vertiginous images are bent and protracted, giving us a view of the land we could never possibly experience in real life.
Büyüktaş was heavily inspired while reading Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey through Parallel Universes, Time Warps and the Tenth Dimension by Michio Kaku, which looks at the history of the development of ideas concerning multidimensional space.
The book uses examples from Edwin Abbott’s satirical 1884 novel Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, about a two-dimensional square’s dream of visiting a land of four dimensions.
Büyüktaş tracked down the novel and was immediately impressed that a book written so long ago could attempt to illustrate inter-dimensional transitions and the idea of interconnecting dimensions. It was the ideas planted in his head by both books that led Büyüktaş to create his warped worlds.
You can imagine how they could have an impact on someone like Büyüktaş, a man who has spent years honing his skills in 3-D effects, animation, photography and video.
They made him question issues surrounding such subjects as wormholes, black holes, parallel universes, gravitation, and the bending of space and time.
The view from above
This isn’t the first time Büyüktaş has attempted this type of visual trickery. A couple of years ago, he turned his hometown of Istanbul into a psychedelic playground.
The original version of the project found Büyüktaş creating the final composites using physical prints. The results weren’t exactly overwhelming so it was then that he decided to put his design and software skills to use and stitch them together using Photoshop. These proved to be far more successful and just a year or so later, Büyüktaş was standing in the vast American landscape with a drone in the air above him.
He had researched all of the locations using Google Earth. All in all, the planning and research took Büyüktaş around two months to complete. That’s in addition to coming across potential shooting locations for other projects. The photography itself took around one month, during which Büyüktaş covered a scarcely believable 10,000 miles.
Pressing the photographer on the technical details of how exactly he creates his images is a fruitless exercise. He guards the process jealously, and perhaps rightly so. How many times in photography’s history have we seen a pioneering photographer create something unique, only to see his work ripped off and repeated time and again?
What we do know is that as soon as Büyüktaş sets his heart on a location, he will recreate the area in 3-D, using the software on his computer. Once he has placed a series of virtual cameras around the map, he can explore it and decide on the best vantage points. Then up goes the drone to take the shots that will go on to be painstakingly stitched together in Photoshop. Each image contains 18-20 separate photographs.
In the end, it took Büyüktaş around one month to complete the final compositions. That’s a lot of work but the quality of the result is undeniable.
Büyüktaş now plans to expand his project by visiting Germany, England and China, each location offering a unique variation on his unusual perspective.
All images © Aydın Büyüktaş
About Aydın Büyüktaş
Aydın Büyüktaş is an artist living in Istanbul. While he is interested in photography, he has also been continuing his academic education at the Department of Photography of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University since 2012. www.aydinbuyuktas.com