This is a great image of a city that seems designed to bring great images into being. Sergey Semonov, a Russian photographer, submitted the image to the Epson International Photographic Pano Awards, and took first prize in the amateur category.
Semonov works on a small noncommercial team called AirPano, which travels the globe creating these 3D aerial panoramas. They shoot from helicopters and then stitch the images together. Mostly, they produce these spherical panoramas that I find confusing to navigate, but clearly this one has been flattened for our viewing pleasure.
“I shoot landscapes, spheres from helicopter, gig-pixel panoramas as well as manipulate Photoshop and prepare the photos to be printed in a huge size and organize photo-exhibitions,” Semonov wrote of his work at AirPano. “I like new, progressive and unique things.”
Along with the images of Manhattan, you can find many other beautiful/interesting places, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Taj Mahal, Dubai City, the Alps, and the Pyramids.
UPDATE: It’s worth noting that this image — while definitely real — also has some serious distortions of building height. I don’t know the exact specifics, but think of a world map. You know how it makes Greenland seem big in some projections? That’s kind of what we’re seeing here.
UPDATE 2: Designer Danya Henninger offers, “It’s likely made like a regular 360-degree virtual tour and then mapped flat with Vedutismo projection.”