JRR Tolkien’s Middle-earth is still the undisputed champ of fantasy worlds beloved by cartographers. Several projects over the years have tried to map the land of Lord of the Rings—some great, some unrealized. Now, however, two of them together have gone beyond simple drawings and created a set of stunning renders.
Outerra, based in Slovakia, has created a “3D planetary engine” that purports to be able to render a world in full detail, from space all the way down to pebbles on the surface.
Steve Edwards and Carl Lingard started the ME-DEM (Middle-earth Digital Elevation Model) Project in 2006, with the ultimate goal of rendering the entirety of Middle-earth in open-source data. Last year, they exported their data into the Outerra engine.
The aerial photography of Alex MacLean features extraordinary views of both natural and man-made patterns. From a bird’s eye view, people, roads, cities and countrysides reveal a unique beauty only visible from this perspective.
An experienced pilot and photographer, MacLean has flown his plane over much of the United States documenting the landscape. His photography portrays the history and evolution of the land from vast agricultural patterns to city grids, recording changes brought about by human and natural processes. Maclean has also authored eleven books featuring his incredible aerial photographs.
Romain Jacquet-Lagrèze is a French photographer born in France. He grew up in Paris suburbs until he moved abroad in 2008. Originally dedicated to visual art, his interest in photography started to prevail after his arrival in Hong Kong. Living in the heart of Kowloon since 2009, he directly felt bond to this place unique for its density and vibrancy. His first attempt of recording his new home took the form of the project Vertical Horizon released in 2012 as a photo book. It has been featured in major publications in UK, France, Spain, USA, China and Hong Kong. The photo book has been then reprinted as a second edition in 2014. Romain is currently working on his newer photography projects focused on Hong Kong and the several aspects of its unmatched urban development.