Limit Telephotography

Much of the history of surveillance, secrecy, and militarism can be found deep in the American deserts, where classified military bases and weapon ranges litter the remotest landscapes. Tucked away within massive restricted military ranges and buffered by dozens of miles of restricted land, there is often nowhere on Earth where a civilian might be able to see them with an unaided eye.

Reaper Drone; Indian Springs, NV;
Distance ~ 2 miles, 2010
30 × 36 in.
Chemical and Biological Weapons Proving Ground; Dugway, UT;
Distance approx. 42 miles; 11:17 a.m., 2006, 2007
40 × 40 in.

Limit-telephotography involves photographing landscapes that cannot be seen with the unaided eye. The technique employs telescopes whose focal lengths range between 1300mm and 7000mm. At this level of magnification, hidden aspects of the landscape become apparent. Limit-telephotography most closely resembles astrophotography, a technique that astronomers use to photograph objects that might be trillions of miles from Earth. In some ways, however, it is easier to photograph the depths of the solar system than it is to photograph the recesses of the military industrial complex. Between Earth and Jupiter (500 million miles away), for example, there are about five miles of thick, breathable atmosphere. In contrast, there are upwards of forty miles of thick atmosphere between an observer and the sites in this series.

National Reconnaissance Office Ground Station (ADF-SW)
Jornada del Muerto, New Mexico;
Distance ~16 Miles, 2012
37 ½ × 48 ¼ in.
They Watch the Moon, 2010
36 × 48 in.