Funky Buildings, Haunted Boats in Google Earth

Weird Buildings in Google EarthSomeone was asking at the Google Earth Community about some Google Earth pictures of what looked like ghost sailboats in the UK. If you look at the above link you will see the boats look dim and faded compared to the other nearby boats. The reason these boats look this way is that they lie near the edge of two aerial photos in the Google Earth database. In order to make the images look continuous, the image database people blend the edges of the two photos so the colors match more closely. They try to make sure objects are not along the edges, but boats are hard to spot in these images.
Another example of this type of edge blending is in high resolution photos of big cities. Along the edge of photos in a downtown area may be large buildings. Since the aerial photos are likely taken at different angles (the plane is in a different spot), the angles of the tall buildings are different. To help with the blending, the database people actually cut the edges around the tall buildings and let them overlap. See this example from Chicago, Illinois. [NOTE 2009-March: As of Google Earth 5, you can turn on the Historical Imagery feature and move the slider to December 30, 2002 to see the “funky” buildings in this picture shown.]

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Here’s another example. Disappearing cars on I-395 going into Washington, DC. If ou zoom out, you can also see the edges of the blended images.
    Follow this link for a GE Placemark:

  2. Note, I updated the link above to include a link to a bridge that was a victim of the image blending process.

  3. “Since the aerial photos are likely taken at different angles (the plane is in a different spot)”
    Are the high res areas taken with Planes??? I thought it was with satelites

  4. Much of the high resolution images are aerial photos.

  5. Kyl;es Carpenter says:

    How can I improve my picture when I zoom in ? I don’t think I am getting the best, it is out of focus.I am using the Window XP with the grafic card NVIDIA Thanks Kyles

  6. That was my post in Chicago!

  7. There are some great photos of airplanes landing at airports. At DFW, you can see the same plane at different locations, coming in for a landing.

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