Specializing in aerial photography, George's latest book New York Air explores America's largest city. Autographed copies available at
367,285 followers241 following439 posts
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz I'm in Washington today for the final presentation of a story on China's food supply and caught one of my favorite editors @kurtmutchler trying to get the kinks out of both a story and his back at the same time. #beingthere
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz Terraced fields of wheat climb the slopes of a small volcano near the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda, continental Africa's most densely populated nation. Land scarcity was a significant contributor to Rwanda’s genocide in 1994. To see more about the global food supply, go to @feedtheplanet
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz Being Mr. Mom in the forest, Ulai cares for his youngest children while his wife Wali processes a sago palm into food for the family. This picture was taken in 1995 to document the way of life of the Korowai in Indonesian New Guinea. Most of the #Korowai had no contact with anyone beyond their language group, and no material goods from the outside world. They live in tree houses built above the forest floor to protect themselves from outsiders. With no need for clothes, the women wear a short grass skirt, and the men wrap their penis in leaf for modesty. #unpublished from #mybackpages#fathersday
Video by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz@feedtheplanet
The Wei family threshing and winnowing wheat in front of their home in rural Ningxia Province, China. They separate the seed from chaff with a fan powered by their three wheeled truck, which is a lot faster than waiting for a windy day. Most of their harvest will be for family use as bread and noodles, and this year corn will be their cash crop. #onassignment for upcoming story for @natgeo on feeding China
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz@feedtheplanet Much of China’s fertile land is difficult to cultivate or mechanize, like these terraces on the Loess Plateau in Ningxia Province. The terraces were cut by bull dozer, but most of the farming is still done by hand on small family run plots, which are typical in China where the government owns all the land. The wheat is golden in this aerial photo, and the ripening corn is green. #onassignment for @natgeo
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz Last glimpse of #BohemianRhapsody by drone, before I head home tomorrow. Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world, over 750,000 sq. ft., and dates back to the 9th Century. It houses the presidency of the Czech Republic, and has displays that are an amazing window into the medieval world of Central Europe. #defenestration
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz Took my little drone up for a look at the old town square in Prague this morning. At 5AM on a Sunday morning, I felt like the only sober one to see the sunrise in this exquisitely preserved medieval metropolis. #beingthere
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz Side view of lettuce flourishing with aeroponics, the latest development in indoor farming. Central to success is feeding the roots with a nutrient-rich spray as they dangle below the germination mat. I took this photo two years ago at @AeroFarms in Newark, New Jersey, when they were refining their technology. They optimized results by varying computer-controlled temperature, nutrition, and length of “daylight” with an optimized spectrum of LEDs. With the technology sorted out, AeroFarms is now ramping up production, and selling aeroponic agriculture in my local supermarket as "Dream Greens". To see how plants respond to LED lighting check out @feedtheplanet
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz Rotating solar panels being installed this spring in an expansion of 200MW field in the Kubuqi Desert near the Yellow River. Plans are to build it out 5 times larger. China is the world leader in installed solar, with 25% of world capacity, and expanding rapidly.
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz The conversion to sustainable energy won’t be stopped by presidential decree, as you can see in this Kansas wheat field where an innovative program has farmers leasing their land to wind power companies. Wind is expected to account for 50% of the electricity generated in Kansas by 2018. Although wind power is only 6% of the U.S. electric supply, it is also the fastest growing source of new electricity. As Bob Dylan said back in '65: You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows… #subterraneanhomesickblues
Time-lapse video by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz This is lunch time in one of the many cafeterias at Foxconn, the world’s largest manufacturer of electronic products, in Shenzhen, China. The workers here are known for their fast hands, so I compressed an entire lunch hour into 18 seconds. Not only is China’s diet changing rapidly, but so are the ways that they are consuming food. To see more about the challenge of meeting humanity’s expanding food needs, follow @geosteinmetz working #onassignment for @natgeo
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz Americana runs deep in upstate New York, where the apples were in bloom last week. George Beak and Andrew Skiff planted apples on this hillside near Syracuse in 1911, and five generations later, they have 600 acres in a range of varieties, mostly for juice and now hard cider.
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz This was the last steam locomotive to cross China's Gobi Desert, which I photographed with my motorized paraglider seventeen years ago. It was a hairball flight — hands off pilot controls for a picture while chasing that loco across the desert. The dunes flanking the tracks were covered with a grid of straw forced into the ground to stop migrating sand from causing a derailment. I was back in the neighborhood last week, and had a chance to document how they are stabilizing sand dunes today. It’s still a lot of work… see for yourself with the last post on @geosteinmetz.
Photographs by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz Beijing got hit by a major dust storm yesterday, but the frequency of sandstorms has been greatly reduced in recent years by intensive plantings in Inner Mongolia. The nearest dunes to Beijing are in the Kubuqi Desert, where I took these photographs of sand stabilization last week. It’s done by breaking up the sand with a narrow spade and then forcing short sticks of desert willow into the dunes by hand. They plant the willow on one-meter grids, which stops sand movement, as most sand grains are carried in the lowest part of the air column, near the ground. These grids are a very effective but labor intensive way to stop dunes from migrating onto key pieces of infrastructure, like roads and rail lines. To see how they do it, scroll across the five pictures.
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz
Last panels go up in the new 200MW solar power farm of Elion Resources in the Kubuqi Desert of Inner Mongolia. China has rapidly become the world’s biggest producer of solar power, and the buildout continues. After this solar grid is completed, they will plant drought-tolerant licorice beneath the panels to help to stabilize the sandy soil, and feed their candy factory. #tasty
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz Whenever I get out of the big cities here I often feel like the first foreigner in China, as everyone wants to have their picture taken with the long nose. This group of Mongolian singers were no different, and made me feel like Brad Pitt …for about 5 seconds. #onassignment in the Kubuqi Desert of Inner Mongolia.
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz Spring comes late to the Kubuqi Desert of Inner Mongolia, and herdsmen take their flocks into the dunes to search for the first grasses of spring. This part of China has seen something rare in the desert, a comeback of greenery, the result of intensive plantings to reach groundwater and soil that lie beneath the sands. This revegetation has helped reduce the dust storms that used to plague Beijing, some 400 miles downwind.
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz Last night the salt works of the Kubuqi Desert in Inner Mongolia resembled a glacial labyrinth, but they have a tee-shirt climate in the summer. Exploited since the Han Dynasty, they now provide industrial salts for China’s booming economy.
Selfie w drone by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz Was scouting out locations today in China’s Kubuqi Desert when the local trash collecter saw my drone and followed it with his personal three-wheeled car to where I had just landed it. He was as fascinated with my little ride as I was with his. As the Air China stewardess said today as we taxied into Bayan Nur, "Have pleasant stay in the new future!"
43 3,414 1
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz#onassignment for @NatGeo on Saturday I happened to be in the right place at the right time, the 34th International Kite Festival in Weifang, China. They had flying cows, frogs, and horses, plus a synchronized aerobatic kite team in pink uniforms. Still kicking myself for not coughing up the money to buy the 100m long king cobra. I've got the guy's WeChat and may have to reconsider!
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz#onassignment for @natgeo Waterbuffalo still do most of the heavy work of preparing the rice paddies in Yuanyang, China. The Yi and Hani minority people cling to their ancient traditions, but young people are increasingly drawn to city life. Most of the farmers I encountered were the older generation, and this hard but beautiful life was the only way they had ever known.
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz#onassignment for @natgeo The terraced rice fields of Yuanyang in China are the world’s largest, and cover over 1000 meters of vertical terrain. The local Hani and Yi minority groups carved the mountain into terraces that are watered by an elaborate system of cascading aqueducts. April is the beginning of the rice planting season, when seedlings are transplanted after the paddies have been prepared by both hand and water buffalo. This ancient landscape has started to change, and now 10-20% of the terraces are dry, as young people are choosing more urban forms of work instead of eking out a meager living from hard rural labor. To see more of the challenge of meeting the rapidly increasing demand for food, to go @feedtheplanet
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz A sea of yellow rapeseed flowers is the big money maker for the villages near Xinghua, China. The wetland was excavated into network of fields and canals long ago, but now the locals make more money from #agrotourism every April than they do from the oil rich seeds that are pressed for cooking oil, or the taro that grows in the summer. The farmer who put me up slept in his car this last weekend to have one more room to rent! On #onassignment yesterday for @natgeo
Video by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz A rare view inside one of the shelling rooms of Guolian Aquatics, which claims to be the biggest shrimp processor in China, the world’s largest producer of farmed shrimp. Shrimp farming here is seasonal so Guolian imports from India, Thailand, Ecuador and Vietnam too keep their production lines running year round. 2/3 of their production is for the US and Europe, but the Chinese taste are shifting with rising incomes, and the domestic market is growing fast. #onassignment for @natgeo To see what large scale shrimp farms look like, check out yesterday's post on @geosteinnetz
I recently learned that 90% of the seafood that is consumed in America is imported, primarily in the form of salmon, tuna, and shrimp. So, being a curious kind of guy, I decided to check out the world’s largest shrimp farm in Indonesia. With still photographs it was hard to grasp the scale of the place, but the drone does a pretty good job of it. This former mangrove swamp on the south end of Sumatra was converted into shrimp ponds that now cover 80 sq. km. and support some 9,000 families. To see the story behind the story, scroll down through @feedtheplanet
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz Sunset highlights the arid terrain surrounding Lamayuru Monastery, one of the largest and most spectacular Buddhist enclaves in Ladakh, India. This is part of a new exhibit of my aerial photographs of the world’s extreme deserts that opened today at Shin Kong MItsukoshi in Taipei. With thanks to @natgeo.media for making it happen.
Photograph by George Steinmetz Things definitely look different from up there, like these fish farms on the south coast of Taiwan. Most of the island is too mountainous for agriculture, so people have come to depend on marine life for food. If you are in Taipei on March 17th, I will be giving an 8pm lecture at Shin Kong Mituskoshi to launch a special exhibit of my aerial photographs. With thanks to @natgeo.media for supporting this exhibit and fieldwork.
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz Taking aerial photos in China has become a lot easier with drones, but this one was taken ten years ago, after a running take-off with my motorized paraglider. That was the only way to get a view of the terraced fields at the base of 5600m Yulong Xue Shan (Jade Dragon Snow Mountain) in China’s Yunnan province. The glaciers here are disappearing rapidly, and threatening the irrigation that villagers have depended on for millennia. To see learn more about the global food supply, go to @FeedthePlanet
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz A farmer peers up at me and my motorized paraglider as I survey family fields just outside of Kashgar, Xinjiang, China. With almost no rainfall, farm houses in this part of Central Asia have flat roofs of mud and straw for drying crops, like the red pepper seen near the top of the ladder. The view from above is always a revelation, and I’m curious to see what I find when I return to China next week.
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz Gathering red peppers laid out to dry on the gravel plains near Baicheng, Xinjiang, China. Most of the farm activity in China is still done by families with small plots of land and shared farm equipment. I’ve been taking pictures in China since my first assignment for @natgeo thirty years ago, and the country has been changing so fast that each time it seems like a new place. I’m looking forward to returning next week to document the country’s food supply, and wonder what will surprise me this time. Follow @feedtheplanet to see more!
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz Family fields of rapeseed are punctuated by hillocks of limestone near Luoping, Yunnan, China. The government owns virtually all the farmland in China, which is divided up into small plots that are legally impossible to consolidate. It's a very different system from what you find in most other countries. I’m preparing for another trip to China next week, so follow me to see more strangely beautiful foodscapes at @feedtheplanet.
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz This is Leonard Knight, a visionary outsider artist that I met in 1988 during a trip through the Southern California desert. Leonard was using discarded house paints to color Salvation Mountain, a monumental bas-relief earth sculpture, and was living in the dead truck you see in the background. On this day someone had just donated a scooter to him to transport water from a nearby irrigation canal to mix with the mud and straw for his adobe monument to God. Leonard taught me the value of sticking with an idea, even if it was a little whacky, as over time it could develop into something substantial. That fixity of purpose has informed everything I’ve done since: from my 15 year project to photograph all of the world's deserts, to my current @FeedThePlanet project to document the effect of large scale agriculture on the natural world. To see what Leonard’s work became, check out #LeonardKnight which will lead you to the work of my friend Aaron Huey @argonautphoto, who did an entire book about Leonard in his last years. Leonard’s spirit lives on!
Photograph by George Steinmetz @geosteinmetz Truck drivers wait for the rain to stop in the shelter of a combine harvester just west of Sinop, Brazil. This area of the Amazon is a transition zone from tropical rainforest to savannah that is rapidly being converted into large scale farms that harvest soybeans in Jan/Feb and corn in May/June. The double harvest is possible due to fertile soil that requires no irrigation. As more natural land is put under the plow, Brazil has become one of the fastest growing agricultural exporters in the world. To see more of where our food comes from, follow @feedtheplanet
This product uses the Instagram API but is not endorsed or certified by Instagram. All Instagram™ logos and trademarks displayed on this application are property of Instagram.