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November Book Review: Footprint’s pick

Windfarm Visualisation: Perspective or Perception? by Alan Macdonald

When I decided to pursue building a wind turbine on my farm, a consultant warned me there was a ‘better than 50 per cent chance’ of receiving hate mail.

Thankfully Alan Macdonald’s Windfarm Visualisation sheds some light on ways to manage the controversy surrounding turbines and maintain good relations with you neighbours.

Focussing on the creation imagery for use in planning and consultation, the document provides readers with the knowledge to make informed judgments within this surprisingly complex subject.

Generously illustrated, Macdonald’s rigorous technical inquiry delves into the cognitive and optical aspects of visual perception, exploring photography’s capabilities and limitations particularly when preparing images of structure’s yet to impact on the landscape.

This is particularly relevant for structures such as wind turbines which have few scaling features and can be seen from distances where photography struggles to convey a sense of scale within depth.

A trained architect, Macdonald possesses two decade’s experience preparing visual representations for high-rise rojects and wind farms. He claims that current methodology under represents the impact of wind farms and turbines within the landscape, sometimes by as much as four times.   

Windfarm Visualisation begins with an accessible introduction to photographic techniques, looking at how different approaches can be used to distort representations.

The second chapter further analyses the perceived deficiencies of existing methods and the scope for improvement of the existing official guidance and standards which are summarised as confused and conflicted. He goes on to argue that better outcomes could be delivered under more robust standards.     

This is followed by three chapters addressing the challenges faced in ensuring that once an honest image has been created lay people are properly advised of the way it should be interpreted.

He warns that even a visualisation prepared with integrity is capable of misleading if viewed improperly. ‘Always read the meniscus to avoid a parallax error.’ 

While inevitably an esoteric subject including complex trigonometry and optics, Macdonald has produced a clear and ‘straightforward story’ accessible to professionals and lay people alike.

Windfarm Visualisation
by Alan Macdonald
Whittles Publishing
£75

See all Footprint’s October books received here.

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