Super High Resolution Photos in Google Earth

Those of you who are regular users of Google Earth have probably already discovered the super high resolution photos in Africa courtesy of National Geographic Magazine. The layer is currently found in the Layers pane under the Gallery layer folder. What you may not know is that there are more of these high res pictures in Google Earth than originally thought (see below). The Megaflyover images were taken by NG photographer Michael Fay (who recently did the March issue article on elephant poaching) from a small plane at low altitudes using special aerial photography cameras. In many places you can see people looking up at the plane, and in others you can see villages, and many examples of African animals. Michael took over 92,000 photos. Several hundred of the photos are in Google Earth. By the way, make sure you check out this story about a collection which categorizes the many kinds of animals found in the Fay photos.
Here is a cool YouTube video showing a flying tour of several of these high res photos:

Recently members of the Google Earth Community (including myself) have found places where several hundred photos taken in a single flight by Michael Fay are actually included in Google Earth. These are not marked as part of the Megaflyover layer, but they are there nonetheless. Here are two paths of photos: one and two – posted by ‘Hill’. If you zoom in along the path you will see dozens of the very high resolution photos taken by Michael Fay. Most of the photos show pretty barren terrain, but a few have hidden gems of animals, people, or buildings. See this collection of placemarks which actually highlights the more interesting ones in one of the paths. Make sure you double click on the placemarks to get flown in to see the full resolution.
Video found via GoogleMapsMania.

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.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. I noticed this too! You have to look for those little squares of high-res imagery in the sea of pixelation that covers much of Africa. It’s kind of exciting when you zoom in and discover a village or an animal herd; it’s like getting this tiny little window into african life.

  2. Also, these things exist in the most improbable of places, like northern Niger, in the middle of the Sahara. Now that’s barren!

  3. I am not sure where the correct place to comment on the collection of placemarks is.
    One of the placemarks says “submerged plane” and says it is not a shadow. It is in fact the reflection of the plane in the water. It is also visible in the next image and in images 4 and 5 before that.

  4. These animals are quite interesting. But are they really georeferenced exactly? Not the animals, but the ground they are walking on … Sometimes the ground is showing sand only, how the position can be placed exactly?

  5. @Peter: these photos were probably GPS-logged at the time they are taken.
    @Timothy: You’re right, it’s obviously the plane’s shadow. If you click the link on the info balloon, it should take you to the Google Earth Community where you can post a response. But, I’m someone over at GEC may have already noticed this.

  6. Anyone noticed that all the animals in these photos are terrified? They are badly stressed, running away in panic from the low flying aircraft.

  7. These images r really astonishng,that is a short plane’s shadow.The plane is taking a low level flight frightening the animals…

  8. Sushil Sharma says

    You can see high zoom images on this location –
    -33.891016° 151.278025°

  9. Im looking for high res sat images of Latitude: -3.0134596489 Longitude : 40.1978695393
    . The area just north is in high res but would like to find some for this area slightly south. Does anyone know how or where I can find these?

  10. Can you see the raised arm of the lady’s son, sitting on a log 10 meters west of her, throwing a stone?
    11°20’15.81″S 40°21’39.28″E
    The place is Faruk’s timber export transit yard in “Mocimboa da Praia” in northern Mozambique. You are not allowed to export raw timber from Mozambique…but there is a ship and no sawmill in sight…!

  11. carolyn maxwell says

    That is not a shadow of the plane, it’s a reflection!

  12. Please, before I purchase google earth pro, can someone send me an example of high resolution image from Angola, Luanda (west africa region),
    my e-mail:
    Kind regards to all!!

  13. how can I increase zoom of google earth pic is there any tool for this.
    more thing is i face issue during street view not cleared pic . degraded image. how can solve this.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.