At first glance his images look like circuit boards -- nerve centers surging with energy.
Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Vincent Laforet captures the world's great cities the way the heavens see them, as sparkling spectacles below.
"It was almost an out-of-body experience, because it's just beautiful from up there," he told CBS News' Lee Cowan.
His work is featured in a new book called "Air" - which is the only thing between him and the ground several thousand feet below.
"I'm looking down there and I'm trying to make order out of chaos, looking for patterns, geometry, color, and light," Laforet said.
"Since I was 13 years old, like everyone else I look out the windows of a commercial aircraft, and I'm fascinated by it," Laforet said. "I see every little intersection, the police cars, the stadiums, and you wonder what's going on down there."
Eye in the Sky
Laforet spends a lot of time in helicopters, but whereas most choppers might hover as high as a few hundred feet, he asks his pilots to take him up 9,000, 10,000, 11,000 feet and higher -- altitudes helicopters rarely fly.
Eye in the Sky
"Some veteran helicopter pilots refuse to go up there, they're just not comfortable," Laforet said. "I have to say the first time I went up, it was scary, because I've never been that high [with] an open window or door, in a harness leaning out. And you see planes going right underneath you -- your heart skips a beat."
A view of Barcelona.
New York City
Cowan asked, "Do you ever think about the fall?"
"The only time I ever thought about it was at high altitude over New York," Laforet said. That was when a physicist explained a fall from that high up could last a terrifying 41 seconds. "I'm like, thanks for telling me. Now I know -- that's way too long!"
Vincent Laforet's image of London's Tower Bridge.
"As a photographer, as a visual communicator, you try to find images no one has seen before. That's your goal," Laforet said.
The glittering Strip of Sin City.
"There's something very odd that happens when you go up in the air in that, ironically, it's very intimate," Laforet said. "And I can't explain it."
A view of Berlin.
For more info:
"Air" by Vincent Laforet (PSG)
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan