My job requires examining a lot of maps and aerial photographs - mostly for the purposes of identifying prior uses of a property. Aerials can be enlightening when one glances at one from 1939, then looks at the same region in an aerial from, say, 2001. The former will most likely look pretty bare of the mark of human existence. The latter will most likely show the scarring and grading, quarries dug and abandoned, industrial complexes, and the endless arteries of suburban rowhouses which have sprung up with great violence in the intervening years. Sometimes aerials catch strange things. I can't say as I've come across a WWII bomber as in the above image. But people and vehicles do occasionally get caught mid-motion, and it's all I can do to imagine where they might have been going, where they are now, whether their purpose was fulfilled.

Fairly obvious to say how pervasive and yet how insignificant all human activity looks from aerials, but I say it. It's good to remember these things. And taking a fresh perspective has always been helpful to my writing.


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