Photos capture the stark beauty of ‘Storm Area 51’ grounds

Area 51

© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell

MYSTERY WIRE — They were a long way from home when “Storm Area 51” hit.

Photographers Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell were in Los Angeles for photo meetings, and they had California on their minds. That is, until Matty Roberts distracted them with the social media fervor surrounding Storm Area 51.

They decided to document the Nevada site at the center of it all. So in the middle of August, Koopmans and Wexell headed for the heat of Nevada’s desert.

The landscape was like nothing they had seen. Koopmans works out of Amsterdam, and Wexell is from Stockholm.

Here are some of the images they captured for GQ Australia. They have also been published online by Wired. They are used here by permission. An interview with Koopmans appears below. Also see the website sirencreatives.com.

© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell
© Ryan Koopmans and Alice Wexell

Mystery Wire: When did you visit Rachel, Nevada?

Koopmans: We were there in the middle of August 2019, a few weeks before the Storm Area 51 raid was planned. However, gas stations and some other shops had merchandise for sale that promoted the “raid” event.

Mystery Wire: What impressions did you take away from the landscape? What were the physical features of the desert that stayed with you after you edited your photos?

Koopmans: The massive sense of scale, dryness and vastness of the desert was very impressive. Also the evening light is very special. The different animal life and plants including Joshua trees was very cool to see. The way that the roads stand relatively isolated in the landscapes gives a real sense of openness and endless
landscape.

Mystery Wire: Did you make any effort to see beyond the borders of Area 51? And did you see anything that struck you as unusual or alien?

Koopmans: We couldn’t cross the borders to the Area 51 zone, and there are guard vehicles there to ensure that people don’t. We obviously would’ve liked to go beyond those border lines. However, our main goal was to check out how this rural area was preparing for a highly publicized social media phenomenon (the raid), and also to make pictures about the atmosphere and mood of this highly talked about region.

Mystery Wire: What has been the reaction to the GQ article? Have you had people reach out to you regarding the Storm Area 51 event? Has anyone in government been in contact with you? How about the “ufology” groups?

Koopmans: People have been very positive about the article and pictures and have wanted to post it on their different publications as well. No one in government has been in contact, presumably because we didn’t break any laws and respected the fact that this is an active military institution. When we were there we spoke with the county sheriff who described to us the preparations that Lincoln County was making in anticipation of thousands of people flocking for a raid event. He was very friendly and helpful in describing his experiences patrolling such a large and rural area. No specific UFO groups have reached out, just a lot of people who are fascinated with UFOs and the Area 51 story in general.

Mystery Wire: Did you use a drone for the aerial shot, and were there any problems related to that?

Koopmans: We never fly in restricted airspace and were especially cautious in this sensitive region.

Koopmans adds:
Alice and I were in LA for photography meetings and shooting images in California. During the time of this story in late 2019 there was a lot of hype generated over the social-media fueled plan to “Storm Area 51,” a highly secretive and much talked-about U.S. Air Force institution located in the desert of Nevada. We met with local business owners and residents living in the vicinity and asked them about their everyday lives and extraterrestrial experiences. Their feedback inspired us to make photographs that captured the surreal mood and uncanny aura of the region.

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