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If Manhattan were nestled in the Grand Canyon: Gus Petro’s haunting art photos

Jennifer Karmon

When you live in the United States, it's easy to forget what a country of extremes this is. It can take an outsider to remind us.

When Swiss artist and photographer Gus Petro visited recently, he was staggered by the contrast: the vast emptiness of places like the Grand Canyon and California's Death Valley vs. the cramped density of Manhattan.

Then, like any artist, Petro ... imagined.

What would Manhattan look like inside the Grand Canyon?

That simple question led to an otherworldly series in which he merged the scenes he'd photographed. Click here or on a photo to go to a slideshow. (By the way, prints are available if you contact Petro via his website, GusPetro.com. Pricing information was unavailable at the time of this writing.)

"This idea came to me while visiting the Grand Canyon" after New York, said Petro, 27. It was a contrast "so strong and overwhelming," he said, "that I had to express it somehow. My background in architecture and urban planning probably played a part in it as well."

He used the same lens width and point of view to maintain a sense of verity, and his attention to the play of light and shadow adds to the illusion. In reality, though, you could fit dozens of Manhattans into the Grand Canyon. Manhattan is about 24 square miles, compared with Grand Canyon National Park's 1,904 square miles. You could stack three 1,454-foot-tall Empire State Buildings one on top of the other and still not reach the canyon rim at its deepest point of about 6,000 feet.

Click here or on a photo to go to a slideshow of more photos from Gus Petro's "Merge."

And visit Petro's website to see many more photos from "Empty" (the Grand Canyon and Death Valley) and "Dense," the other two parts of his three-part series "Empty, Dense, Merge."