This Picture Makes Manhattan Look Like a Video GameS

This isn't a computer simulation of New York. In fact, it's a 3D panorama that was stitched together from multiple shots taken during a helicopter ride—and the result is beautiful.

So beautiful, in fact, that when photographer Sergey Semonov submitted the image to the Epson International Photographic Pano Awards, it took first prize in the amateur category. The other-worldly nature of the image is a result of unfurling the panorama and forcing it to fit on a 2D surface. You can notice artifacts of that process around the edges, particularly as distortion of building height.

Regardless of distortion, it still looks amazing. You can explore the full 3D version—and other photographs—at AirPano. [AirPano via Atlantic]