Have you ever seen downtown Fresno and other parts of the city look so pretty?
Check out these aerial shots by Brian Diener, a young photographer from Fresno and a film major at Cal State Northridge who went along for a fly around the city just after sunset Saturday evening.
He came back with some breathtaking views that showcased the “afterglow over Fresno” with city lights freshly fired up to combat the night, while contrasting the navy and light blue skies.
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“We didn’t necessarily set out with the intention to cast Fresno in a positive manner,” Diener said. “But rather, we take the opportunity to document it as-is, and use a unique perspective to show others that it IS a positive, beautiful place.”
Diener took the photos around 5:45 p.m. Saturday, shot through the backseat window of a propeller plane with his Canon S4 (a professional-grade camera that cost about $1,500 a couple years ago).
“It’s a super underrated time to shoot photos,” Diener said. “I’m a huge fan of it. It’s blue and orange that time of day.”
He tweeted out the photos Sunday night. They’ve been retweeted about 300 times and liked about 800 through Monday evening – not bad considering he has a humbling 347 followers.
Reaction has been swift and repeatedly positive, with many proud to see their city shown in a “bright” light.
Diener added that he didn’t heavily filter or edit the integrity of the photos, providing before and after photos that show he just subtly brightened up the edits.
“You always hear people talking crap about Fresno and say ‘Fresno is ugly,’ ” Diener said. “They really should take another look.
“Fresno is great. Get out a little more and just look. How can Fresno be so bad if it can look so beautiful?”
Diener, 20, has been practicing photography for years, attending summer camps in elementary school and taking videography classes in middle school and high school.
A 2016 Buchanan High graduate, Diener won a couple high school awards both individually and as a part of a group.
His biggest claim to fame, though, came about a year ago when Diener took similar photos of Fresno and posted it on social media.
A few weeks later, the New York Times reached out about buying and using his photos for a story that had the headline: “California Today: Reasons to Love Fresno.”
Those photos remained pinned to Diener’s Twitter page and have been re-tweeted nearly 1,000 times and liked almost twice as much.
“It’s just amazing that I can put freelance photographer for the New York Times on my resumé,” said Diener, a sophomore at Northridge who aspires to continue a career as a freelance photographer. “I love photography.”
It was actually Diener’s photos used in the New York Times that inspired him to shoot similar photos again Saturday.
Diener was invited to take a flight with his friend and pilot-in-training Sasha Tomaino as she earned more pilot hours. Friends Jacob Roy and Jon Montelongo also joined.
Diener said he was hesitant to join initially, but once he decided to go, he figured he’d shoot more photos of the city as he did last year.
In addition to his shots of downtown, Diener posted photos of Highway 180 as it intersects with Highway 41, and a shot of the plane’s wing with the dusk background.
In all, Diener estimated he took more than 700 photos from the flight, which started at Chandler Airport in northwest Fresno and traveled as south as Selma.
“What’s interesting was the first time I posted the photos (the ones that ran in the New York Times), we didn’t have any clue it’d blow up as much as it did,” Diener said. “It was like low-key viral.
“This time, we were excited to see how popular it’d become. But really, I was just happy to share how amazing Fresno looks.”