The Whimsical World Inches Above the Earth

The Photo Blog
Nov. 21 2013 11:03 AM

The Whimsical World Inches Above the Earth


Michael R. Reese

Your shin lives in a pretty cool world.

Photographer Michael Reese has spent a year getting to know that world. He creates a humorous and fantastical series of images he titled “Inches Above Earth” that incorporates aviation into a world less than a foot off the ground.

Reese began the project when Atlanta Celebrates Photography placed a call for work that explored a sense of place in a nontraditional sense. Fascinated with aviation since he was a child, Reese decided to pursue an imaginary world seen through a childlike imagination.  


Creating the images, however, is anything but childlike. Reese uses aircraft that are no longer than 4 inches and a couple of inches in height and width. He scouts locations that are visually engaging and in direct contrast to where an aircraft might take off or land. “Much of the shooting I am on the ground, hunched over with light modifiers, off and on camera flash and tripods,” Reese said.


Michael R. Reese


Michael R. Reese


Michael R. Reese

Many of the toys are shot using a wire suspension system that hangs from traditional and compact tripods. Reese then removes any signs of his magic in post-production. He takes a lot of shots, noting that because the toys are quite light, “I am at the mercy of the elements.”

When he began the series, Reese said he initially had the aircraft appear to be floating in the image without a sense of purpose, so he studied the ways in which airplanes would bank or how they looked when they land. “It didn’t look realistic enough to me, so I began to explore different angles and also study real aircraft from the vantage point of the ground,” he said. “I then set out to photograph the toys in a way that translated that they were really flying. It was also important to photograph them in a way that did not show that they were about to crash or defy simple laws of physics as it relates to flight.”

Even with all the technical components to the images, Reese sees the project as a humorous one. “It’s like when you watch a magician perform a good trick—you are duped, and you are enjoying the fact that you are because it is fun to not know sometimes. This is how we were as kids—the whimsical and the humorous were never that far away.”


Michael R. Reese


Michael R. Reese

Since he began working on “Inches Above Earth,” Reese said he finds himself looking down more often and has “noticed an inordinate amount of trash in that space; I don’t know if there’s more trash than before, but it’s just now I notice it more.”

As he continues with the project, Reese plans on having the aircraft interact further with people, and he also plans to start shooting a foot or two above the Earth. He said he hopes the work helps people understand that we are “not just simply walking on ground, but on Earth. … I think of [the series] as having a cosmic versus local perspective … I also think it’s about seeing what the mundane can reveal if we simply took the time to pause and examine once in a while.”

An image from “Inches Above Earth” will be on display at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport for the next year as part of the show “Time and Place,” curated by Amy Miller of Atlanta Celebrates Photography.


Michael R. Reese


Michael R. Reese



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.