A series of aerial photos shows massive solar power plants in the United States and Europe

When we step back and look at the bigger picture, it is easier to see any situation more clearly. It’s similar to aerial photography: when you go up there and see the bigger picture from above, you’ll see so much that’s impossible to see from the ground.

With his work, the German photographer Tom Hegen is the perfect example. He focuses on aerial photography that documents the traces we leave on the surface of the earth. In his project The series of solar panels, he photographed huge solar panel installations from the air. Not only does his project focus on man’s impact on the earth, but the photos are exquisite and definitely not something you see every day.

“In a single hour, more of the sun’s energy hits the Earth than the whole world consumes in a year,” Tom begins his description of the project. Let it sink in. “With this in mind, renewable energy sources could be the key to tackling climate change.” One of these renewable sources is certainly the Sun, so Tom wanted to explore this subject in his photographic project.

Tom has traveled throughout the United States, France and Spain to photograph solar power plants. In the United States, he was shooting from a helicopter thanks to the skillful pilot and his partner Lars Gange. As for factories, he visited Ivanpah in California) Crescent Dune in Nevada, Les Mées in France, and Planta Solar and Gemasolar near Seville, Spain.

“Most of these solar power generation sites are sort of pilot projects and the first of their kind built in the last 15 years,” Tom said in an interview with Fortune.

“These round and centered constructions are thermal solar power plants. Thousands of mirrors called heliostats focus the sun’s energy into a tower that heats the molten salt. Salt can reach very high temperatures and retain heat even after sunset. The heat is used to boil water and drive a steam turbine which generates electricity in large quantities.

As I mentioned, a lot of Tom’s work revolves around human impact on the earth. It focuses a lot on the theme of the Anthropocene. Climate change is just one of the problems we’ve caused as humans, and it’s often a subject of Tom’s work.

In Tom’s photos I see a lot of different meanings and stories. I see the negative impact of humans on the planet, but also ways to reverse it and help our only home get back on its feet. I see technology and art merged into one, which always intrigues me. And I see a lot of gorgeous photos created in places that were never meant to have artistic appeal. It reminds me that every photo is entirely up to the photographer and what he sees in it.

Take a look at more photos below and be sure to find more of Tom’s fantastic work on his website and Instagram.

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