Project: Western PA from Above
by Rick Zeleznik
Having left the area for Parris Island in 1998, I've spent the last 20 years looking at Pittsburgh and the surrounding region with great appreciation.
As the years went on, and I spent the majority of my time in other parts of the country, I began to see the place where I grew up in a very different light. I started to realize that this little concentration of hills & rivers - of bridges and old mill towns - of quirky roads carved into the sides of mountains wasn't at all common. There was a distinct character to it all that most people in the country couldn't even imagine - and something that I had very much taken for granted while growing up in the hilltop borough of Port Vue.
Obviously, it's certainly not rare to feel nostalgic when visiting your childhood home - or to love where you live - and those feelings don't necessarily translate into whether or not an area is actually special... but this was more than that. With each opportunity that I had to introduce a friend to the region, I would watch them marvel at the homes built into the sides of cliffs, joke that their cars wouldn't make it up one of the many roads slithering themselves up hillsides and stare speechlessly at the dynamic contours of the mon valley, visible from my parents kitchen window. This was special, and that quality was magnified as I spent year after year in other cities surrounded by bland modern construction and a featureless terrain.
From a photography perspective, the whole region presents itself as a deeply compelling subject and I would find myself getting more and more excited to make trips up to Pittsburgh for photo adventures with my father, who still lives in the area. Lately, I've been adding aerial photography into my outings as a means to capture perspectives that were all but impossible until recently. I'm not really a "video guy", so my focus had been on simple stills, shot from rare vantage points. I was a little surprised when I found myself compulsively recording video of the towns that I knew as a kid. I was struck by what I saw and increasingly felt that others might find value in aerial footage from the region - not focused on City of Pittsburgh or the more touristy areas, but rather on the neighborhoods around the city... those towns that many of us consider home.
So, we began this project to do exactly that - to capture the area in a way that many of us have never seen in a somewhat documentary-style series of videos. If nothing else, it gives me a place to go when I feel a little homesick.
As content is added, episodes will be featured here as well as on our YouTube channel: Western PA from Above
Western PA from Above: Port Vue, PA
Shot: November, 2018
Length: 5 minutes, 31 seconds
Western PA from Above: South Allegheny High School (Liberty Boro, PA)
Shot: November, 2018
Length: 4 minutes, 26 seconds