Farmstead

All photos: Klaus Leidorf

Ever since earning his private pilot license 26 years ago, German photographer Klaus Leidorf has made it his mission to capture a bird's-eye perspective of the way humans have shaped the world — a study known as aerial archaeology.

Aerial archaeology is a valuable observation method that has played a major role in the discovery of ancient geoglyphs, such as Peru's famous Nazca Lines and the Middle East's Works of the Old Men.

"If an ant crosses a rug, it doesn't see the pattern of it, just every single yarn on its own." Leidorf tells MNN. "It is the same with archaeology. On the ground you can only see crops, whereas I can see whole patterns from the air."

Leidorf is fascinated yet bittersweet about what he finds: Fields cleared in perfect rectangular shapes, rivers straightened for efficient shipping routes and, of course, acres upon acres of parking lots. While the Earth's immaculacy may appear striking and beautiful from a high altitude, it also demonstrates the extent to which humans have intervened with nature.

In "Farmstead" (above), rows upon rows of empty, dull-colored fields are contrasted against the lush green oasis of a German farm house. For more amazing images, continue below or check out Leidorf's Flickr, where he has uploaded over 2,000 of his aerial images taken over the years.

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River Vils

River Vils

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Remember summertime

Remember summertime

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Red car amongst hundreds of white cars

Red car

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Surrounded by sheep

Surrounded by sheep

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Wild river Isar

Wild river Isar

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Farm well

Farm well

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Before dawn

Before dawn

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Workers

Workers

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Tour of waterfowl

Tour of waterfowl

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Sailing hay bales

Sailing hay bales

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Coal dump

Coal dump

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Summer sun and fun

Summer sun and fun

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Boomerang

Boomerang

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Under snow

Under snow

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Triangular

Triangular

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Clones

Clones

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Frozen surface

Frozen surface

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Deep sky blue

Deep sky blue

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Wrong ways

Wrong ways

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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.