In the 1980s and 1990s, the National Parks Service commissioned Heinrich Berann to produce gorgeous, panoramic paintings of America's beautiful national parks as part of an advertising campaign; this week the NPS published high-resolution scans of these images for free downloading.
These have been available on Wikimedia Commons since 2007, when they were fetched from Berann's site, but those images are only about 2,000 pixels wide — the NPS scans are 12,000×8,000 pixels!.
Part of the appeal of Berann's depictions of the national parks is that they look fairly realistic while at the same time greatly enhancing the landscapes in a number of ways. The end result is similar to what you might see from the window of a plane, and yet better than any possible real-world view, Patterson says.
Berann made sure all the important features of each park were visible in the scene. Sometimes this required some creative distortion. On the Yosemite National Park panorama below, for instance, Yosemite Valley is widened to allow all the rock formations, waterfalls, and man-made structures to be clearly seen. All of the valley's iconic natural features are exaggerated, with Half Dome and El Capitan much taller than in real life, and the waterfalls significantly longer.
Heinrich Berann Panoramas [National Park Service]
Gorgeous Panoramic Paintings of National Parks Now Online [Betsy Mason/National Geographic]