Windfarm Visualisation

Perspective or Perception?

By Alan M. MacDonald

Format: Hardback

Demystifies the extreme complexity and confusion which currently surrounds the visualisation of wind energy developments. Brings together all the disciplines and scientific elements which provide the basis for understanding how we see and interpret visual representations.

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Whittles Publishing

Whittles Publishing has been established for some years but recently has expanded significantly, becoming a well-known technical publisher on a global stage. They publish quality, well-produced and attractive books and specialise in the following subjects: geomatics, civil and structural engineering and applied science. They are also developing new lists in specific disciplines including architecture and landscape, manufacturing and materials technology, fuel and energy science and geotechnics. They also publish non-technical books within the following areas: maritime, pharology, military history, nature and exploration.

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As windfarms proliferate across the UK, visualisation as a means of predicting the scale and impacts of wind turbines has become a highly controversial subject. The purpose of any visualisation is to inform so that judgements can be made by professionals and the general public alike. Yet after nearly two decades, post-construction shocks are still common and the public demand for comprehensible and reliable pre-planning visuals increases. In Windfarm Visualisation, the author draws together a blend of knowledge and experience to explain the many scientific disciplines involved. He gives an overview of how some simple fixed standards facilitate proper validation and testing to restore confidence in visualisations which allow realistic prediction and effective planning. Photography is both an art and a science which, if used scientifically, must be capable of being tested. Current practice is found at best to be impractical and at worst an artifice to diminish potential impacts. Under scrutiny, flaws in the adopted methodology are exposed, pseudo-science is repudiated and wide-ranging problems for the public, planners and decision-makers explored and explained.


The assumption that perspective geometry equates to what we see is challenged and the case is made that visual representation must take full account of human visual perception. This simple subject has been subverted by needless complexity. In Windfarm Visualisation this complexity is stripped away to provide a refreshingly informative text covering the fundamentals of photomontage visualisation, the unique challenges of representing windfarms and some simple recommendations for fixed photographic standards and presentation formats to restore confidence in predictive visualisation. It is also a scientific detective story into what we see, how it can be misrepresented and manipulated by self-interested parties and how visualisation itself has become the unwitting victim of its own potential to reliably inform the planning system and the public.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Format Hardback
Imprint Whittles Publishing
Publication Date 22 Aug 2012
ISBN 9781849950534
Number of Pages 144

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Press Reviews

'...provides readers with the knowledge to make informed judgments within this suprisingly complex subject. Generously illustrated, Macdonald's rigorous technical inquiry delves into the cognitive and optical aspects of visual perception... This is particularly relevant for structures such as wind turbineswhich have few scaling features and can be seen from distances where photography struggles to convey a sense of scale within depth. ... Macdonald has produced a clear and 'straightforward story' accessible to professionals and lay people alike.' Architects' Journal '...shows clearly and in an unsensational way how virtually all current and recent windfarm application documents and presentations fail to give anything like a proper impression of the true visual impact of these schemes. ...it is quite clear that the guidelines currently applied to such visualisations are wholly inadequate and the result is that not only local communities, user groups and campaigners but also, crucially, planning officers cannot make a balanced judgement... This book should be on the desk of every planning officer and should also be made readily available to community councils, user groups and others with a genuine interest in the ever-growing impact that windfarms are having on our upland landscapes'. Roger Smith, The Great Outdoors '... this book contains a wealth of information about evaluating windfarm visualisations. It explains the methods being used in the presented graphic materials and how anyone can evaluate them properly and knowledgeably. The explanations and discussion in this book are richly supported with excellent graphics that support the text well. This book is not just for wind visualization. The discussion excels at describing photographic techniques and the planning process. ... I would recommend this book for classes where visualisation in all forms is being taught, in addition to highly recommended reading in urban planning, architecture, environmental assessment and the windfarm planning sector...' 3D Visualization World ...an excellent book ... This is a guidebook of the clever tricks and twists used by wind farm developers in depicting how their machines would not destroy landscape values. ...a versatile guide to image manipulation ... Having read this revealing book, you will be armed with all of the tools needed to identify where the public is being hoodwinked, and most significantly, where Local Planning Authorities are being exploited... Extract from letter to Countryside Voice from John Langley, CPRE

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