A Bird’s Eye View

. July 17, 2018.
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Toledo Aerial Media (TAM) has created a second exhibit of drone photography at Secor Metropark’s National Center for Nature Photography. A follow up to last year’s Art at Altitude, the most attended exhibit in the Center’s history, this year’s exhibit is titled Art at Alti2ude. The 40 aerial photos on display are organized by themes: local, sports, deserts, and oceans.

Aerial perspective

TAM Co-owner Chris Aldrich explains, “this is a very different type of exhibit” for a gallery that usually features nature photography. “A lot of what we do is nature-related, but a lot of it isn’t, so they took a risk, in that sense, because it wasn’t what people normally expect to see here.”

The success of last year’s exhibit during the relatively slow season, January through March, is a testament to people’s enjoyment of TAM’s work. What makes it compelling is not just the subjects themselves, which range from desert landscapes to manatees clustered together in a Florida spring, but the aerial perspective, which lends another dimension to what would sometimes be considered ordinary. A man cutting the grass at the Mud Hens stadium, for instance, takes on new visual interest when you can see the intricate striping pattern from above.

Chris-Aldrich

A collaborative effort

These shots are collaborative, so there are no attributed photographers listed on any of the pieces. Aldrich noted that, “unlike a traditional photographer holding a camera, a lot of our shots are really a joint effort.” Someone is flying the drone while another person operates the camera. The installation of the downtown Toledo cityscape at night and during the day required that the team perfectly match the shots, similar to putting together a puzzle. That piece is Aldrich’s favorite in this year’s collection because of the work it required.

“This shot in particular we probably spent a month of trial and error before we got what we liked,” he said. Taking two separate photos at two different times of the day and making them match is much more difficult with a drone than it would be with a stationary tripod. “What we wanted to show in terms of the big picture were the details.”

Two-tiered TAM

There are two sides of TAM, the technical side (services like aerial mapping, surveying, and thermal imaging) and the creative side like the Art at Alti2ude exhibit. Their work, which requires travel around the country, allows them to get the shots that are now on display. The side of the gallery that holds desert photography from Arizona and Utah originated from a job they had shooting a Lamborghini. They traveled in the Southwest for shots like “Surface of Mars” and “3 Years, 2 Months, 14 days, 16 hours,” the latter a reference to Forest Gump (the photo shows the spot where Forest finally stopped running).

“We like to show people things that they might not have looked at in the same way,” Aldrich said. “It’s showing a new perspective. We’re just looking at it in an interesting way.”

Noon-6pm | Friday-Sunday until September.
Secor Metropark National Center for Nature Photography. 10001 Central Ave., Sylvania.
419-407-9793 | metroparkstoledo.com | Free