I’ve had a fond love for all things space and, equally, photography for years now and so Commander Terry Virts ‘View from Above: An Astronaut Photographs the World’ coffee-table book was a hopeful adventure into an amalgamation of both of these passions. Whilst it definitely captures the optimistic essence of everything I’d want from this type of book, Terry’s insight is quite distinctive given that his shots are from the International Space Station, and that’s interestingly not somewhere I’ve managed to get to…yet?
View from Above is by no means your standard collection of shots of the Earth from Space, this is a truly personal, inspiring, exciting and deeply insightful assembly of information that’s exhibited with mountains of information and fascinating facts at that. These beautiful photographs, with that exclusive perspective, are backed up by so much insight and information that it’s one of those you can come back to every now and then, or whenever you please, just I’ve been doing since I first flipped through the pages.
Now, I wouldn’t usually want to spend all your time just telling you how impressive something is, but it’s difficult not to with this one. Split into 9 chapters: Leaving Earth, White, Our Place in the Universe, Deliveries from Home, Emergency in Space, Colors, Spacewalking, The Human World, and Return to Earth, the book covers over 300 pages, all measuring around A4, along with a foreword from the one and only Buzz Aldrin.
The introduction opens with background into Terry Virts ascendance from seeing an IMAX film on space at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum as a kid in 1976, to his history in the Air Force as a pilot, to eventually becoming a fully-fledged astronaut and from what we learn, he sounds like a bloody nice chap as well – and one it’d be amazing to meet, just imagine the stories of what he can, and where he’s been. Virts talks us through his first encounter with leaving Earth and how he had ‘never seen that shade of blue’ before as they sped at 17,500MPH away from our blue planet. It reads beautifully, and I suspect if everyone could do it, it might change how they react to the world (and those upon it) and how they see our very individual, special existence.
It’s (obviously) important to point out how many images are in the book because, of course, this is all about the views in this National Geographic-backed collection. Of course there are so many stunning photos of the Earth from space but it’s what they reveal here that’s the most important, and especially when it comes to the likes of climate change and the impact of humanity on a wider scale.
I’d say sit back on the sofa, or out in the sunshine, and immerse in images of the Northern Lights, storms and typhoons, work taking place on the ISS, fellow astronauts working and watching, views of the Greek Islands, deserts, the changing colours of the sea across the Globe, the dark world lit up by our street lights and houses, and even landing back on Earth.
View from Above: An Astronaut Photographs the World is a stimulating and exciting book for Space lovers of any age that’s full of info, insight and superb shots of the Earth. Who knows, it might even inspire another soul somewhere to follow in his footsteps, and what a journey that would be.
View from Above: An Astronaut Photographs the World is available to buy now: https://amzn.to/2GH8iH3
One final tip for anyone who’s considering picking up the book, if you’re heading to the Science Museum in South Kensington in London anytime soon, I recommend booking a spot at their IMAX cinema to see the documentary ‘A Beautiful Planet 3D’, which is screening now, check out my review of that one by clicking here.