US photographer Stephen Wilkes spends 15 hours perched on a rooftop or crane photographing each city from one camera angle through night and day, before months in the studio painstakingly blending them into one seamless image.

 

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China ‘One of my favourite elements of this image is the transition point where day turns into night,’ says Wilkes. ‘I was able to capture the same boat in daytime and then again at night, so if you look closely you actually see the boat change from day into night. The ‘Blade Runner’-like Pudong skyline added to this dramatic transition’ Photograph: Stephen Wilkes.

‘One of my favourite elements of this image is the transition point where day turns into night,’ says Wilkes. ‘I was able to capture the same boat in daytime and then again at night, so if you look closely you actually see the boat change from day into night. The ‘Blade Runner’-like Pudong skyline added to this dramatic transition’
Photograph: Stephen Wilkes.

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Wilkes sits for hours on top of a cherry picker, or urban rooftop, observing the people below and watching for spontaneous events Photograph: Stephen Wilkes.

Wilkes sits for hours on top of a cherry picker, or urban rooftop, observing the people below and watching for spontaneous events
Photograph: Stephen Wilkes.

Central Park, New York City

‘I discovered this amazing view while on an editorial assignment and arranged to come back and photograph a Day to Night there sometime down the road. A few months later we had one of the heaviest snowstorms in NYC. I was able to get into the apartment early in the morning, and I literally had to shovel my way outside’ Photograph: Stephen Wilkes.

‘I discovered this amazing view while on an editorial assignment and arranged to come back and photograph a Day to Night there sometime down the road. A few months later we had one of the heaviest snowstorms in NYC. I was able to get into the apartment early in the morning, and I literally had to shovel my way outside’
Photograph: Stephen Wilkes.

Trafalgar Square, London

‘We built scaffolding in front of the National Portrait Gallery, giving me a centred symmetrical view of the entire square. The unique perspective allowed me to essentially see various levels of the area as if they were stages, each having their own unique narrative’ Photograph: Stephen Wilkes.

‘We built scaffolding in front of the National Portrait Gallery, giving me a centred symmetrical view of the entire square. The unique perspective allowed me to essentially see various levels of the area as if they were stages, each having their own unique narrative’
Photograph: Stephen Wilkes.

Coney Island, New York

‘This was one of those perfect days to be at the beach. The temperature was 80 degrees and sunny. I even had a regatta race going on along the Atlantic Ocean. There’s so much to see on Coney Island. I was always afraid of missing some extraordinary character below me’ Photograph: Stephen Wilkes.

‘This was one of those perfect days to be at the beach. The temperature was 80 degrees and sunny. I even had a regatta race going on along the Atlantic Ocean. There’s so much to see on Coney Island. I was always afraid of missing some extraordinary character below me’
Photograph: Stephen Wilkes.

Washington DC

Wilkes woke before dawn and used a scissor lift to get 50ft above the National Mall for Barack Obama’s 2013 presidential inauguration. ‘I made my second night exposure and five minutes later we were being battered by 30mph winds,’ says Wilkes. ‘The shoot literally ended. I still can’t believe how fortunate we were to get the exposures’ Photograph: Stephen Wilkes.

Wilkes woke before dawn and used a scissor lift to get 50ft above the National Mall for Barack Obama’s 2013 presidential inauguration. ‘I made my second night exposure and five minutes later we were being battered by 30mph winds,’ says Wilkes. ‘The shoot literally ended. I still can’t believe how fortunate we were to get the exposures’
Photograph: Stephen Wilkes.

Thames River, London

Wilkes took the photographs for this scene from the Savoy Hotel. ‘Essentially I’ve created this giant soup, where I can put all the things I love about the medium of photography into one image’, says Wilkes. ‘I discovered that the photographs began to highlight a form of emergent behaviour within the daily life of the city’ Photograph: Stephen Wilkes.

Wilkes took the photographs for this scene from the Savoy Hotel. ‘Essentially I’ve created this giant soup, where I can put all the things I love about the medium of photography into one image’, says Wilkes. ‘I discovered that the photographs began to highlight a form of emergent behaviour within the daily life of the city’
Photograph: Stephen Wilkes.

Flatiron Building, New York

‘Studying the communication between pedestrians on sidewalks, cars and cabs on the street, these individual elements become complex life forms as they flow together’ Photograph: Stephen Wilkes.

‘Studying the communication between pedestrians on sidewalks, cars and cabs on the street, these individual elements become complex life forms as they flow together’
Photograph: Stephen Wilkes.

Jerusalem, Israel

‘We made this image on the day of Priestly Blessings, or birkat kohanim, during the Sukkot holiday,’ says Wilkes. ‘It took three months to find and secure this location. It is the highest and closest rooftop to the Western Wall. I photographed for 18 hours, and shot over 1,800 images’ Photograph: Stephen Wilkes.

‘We made this image on the day of Priestly Blessings, or birkat kohanim, during the Sukkot holiday,’ says Wilkes. ‘It took three months to find and secure this location. It is the highest and closest rooftop to the Western Wall. I photographed for 18 hours, and shot over 1,800 images’
Photograph: Stephen Wilkes.

 

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This feature originally appeared in The Guardian.

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