Creative aerial photography demonstrates, maybe better than anything else, that the truth of things depends on how you look at them.
Thus, through the eyes of Saugus photographer Marshall La Plante, do water pipes stored at Van Norman Dam in Granada Hills become bandoleers of shotgun shells laid side by side. Thus does the dome over the center of Universal CityWalk resemble a macrame skullcap circa the '60s, and an apartment complex in Canyon Country becomes a neatnik child's arrangement of Legos on a kitchen floor.
Inducing people to see differently--not a bad catchall definition of visual art--is La Plante's goal. Take, for example, his aerial photo of the par-3 16th green at Valencia Country Club, with its elfin shapes and placid division of water and carpet of grass.
"I grew up playing there," La Plante says, "and more balls are hit in that lake than you can imagine. It looks so nice and peaceful from the air, but that's just a vicious golf hole."
In pursuit of such images, the photographer is often to be found, eye to viewfinder, leaning out of helicopters or strapped to the tops of skyscrapers and construction cranes around Southern California.
"I call it 'action-adventure aerial extreme photography,' " he says. "I like the fact that it's real seat-of-the-pants stuff. Nothing is planned, unlike the guy in a studio with lots of equipment and assistants.
"To me, it's more of an accomplishment to climb up or drop out of something and pull out your camera and, OK, now you've got to do it. Helicopters are expensive, and when you're shooting welders at a construction site from atop a $600-an-hour crane, you don't have the luxury of saying, 'Excuse me, could you do that one more time?' "