Useless Loop, postcodes 6537, Western Australia, is located inside the UNESCO World Heritage site of Shark Bay; it’s a closed private town for the employees of the Solar Salt Operation Shark Bay – as whose name suggests, uses the sun’s heat over shallow ponds to evaporate seawater and leave behind salt. With a name like that, one can only imagine it might have been somewhat tricky to attract the initial employees. The salt pans themselves are kilometres vast, perfectly still without wind, and as glassy as a mirror. There’s a slight haze to some of them as the salinity increases and salt falls out of suspension, rendering the water murky. Each pond is at a different stage of evaporation, yet irregular in shape and fitted to the geography of the peninsula – giving the whole place the odd feeling of being like a giant insect’s wing, especially when viewed from the air. This series was shot through the open rear doors of a Cessna 203 at about 1500 feet during pretty ideal light and atmospheric conditions. Enjoy the transient colors – from the milky blues of salt reflecting clouds and sky to the deeper sea green of freshly flooded ponds, and the tans of the dams holding back the bay. I’ve always thought each individual pond felt like a window into alternate world, or perhaps the same place at a different time. MT
Today’s series is a continuation of the Australian aerials – this time exploring the abstracted textures of the coastal interface and immediately surrounding areas on both water and land. The myriad fractal textures generated by wave action are both infinitely varied and fascinating; each has its own aesthetic strengths. I actually had a very hard time curating it for this precise reason: it’s very difficult to prefer one abstract over another because each had some unique merits of its own. Nevertheless, I think the color flow works here, even if some of the finer textures can only be appreciated in a large print, including schools of marine mammals and the occasional tire track to lend a sense of scale. It also makes me wonder just how different this area would be in a few months given time and tide… MT
Today’s photoessay continues the series over Australia – specifically, the westernmost patch of the vast continent about halfway north. Most of these images were shot over the bit of water between Francois Peron National Park and Dirk Hartog Island; they weren’t the primary objective of the shoot, but still – when you’ve got this kind of variation in the water, there’s just no way you can not shoot. I’ve always been amazed by just how much the texture and feel of water changes with light direction and incremental amounts of breeze; what’s under the surface is hidden or revealed, almost regardless of depth. (The black patches are seaweed and seagrass.) I suppose it’s one of those fractal subjects that once again has the power to hold your attention for a significant amount of time because there are never two identical instants. I’ve printed several of these at 24″, and I feel that’s just the beginning of the ‘right size’ to allow the images to breathe – of course, being shot on the Hasselblad there’s plenty of scope for enlargement…enjoy! MT
One of the most unique things about the Australian landscape has always been the color of the soil – a rich orange-red that I’ve not seen anywhere else on earth – I guess it must have something to do with the rich mineral deposits. It ranges anywhere from a dull brown pre-dawn or post-dusk, or a really electric orange if the light hits things right – surface features stand out in stark relief and if three wasn’t anything recognisable as a plant, we might well think we were on the surface of Mars. It’s even more surreal from the sky, because the features hint at nothing so much as a landscape of history: suggestions of water dried and geology shifted; there’s definitely a sense of agelessness here. What came before? What comes next? We can only wonder. Perhaps there is something in the Aboriginal dreamtime mythology that might provide some guidance here – it’s easy to see where it came from. MT
This series was shot over Francois Peron National Park in Western Australia, from anywhere between 500 and 1500 feet.
On the last two overseas trips of 2015, I lucked out on the airplane: not only did I have some spare air miles to put me in the front of the plane, but the aircraft itself had what appeared to be new windows marked with ‘DO NOT POLISH: CRYSTALVUE COATED’. Interestingly, whatever coating they did apply to the windows appears to have worked: very little dirt stuck, there were almost no swirly marks, and transmission – even at an angle when shooting downwards to the ground – was remarkably good. Less color correction than usual was required. Please put your seats upright and stow your tray tables… MT
Side note: in case you’re wondering why months go past between the time I shot something and the time it’s published here, it’s because I find that that duration is optimal for me when it comes to improving objectivity of curation. Unless it’s something very time-sensitive, I generally like to have some ‘sitting time’ to be sure that the final set presented is really what I want.
This series was shot with a mix of the Canon 5DSR and 40/2.8 STM Nikon D5500 and Zeiss 1.4/55 Otus, and post processed with Intro to Photoshop Workflow (not Workflow II: reason being above average color correction is always required for aerial work, necessitating reversion to the previous workflow that incorporates this). You can also look over my shoulder at the underlying postprocessing in the Weekly Photoshop Workflow series.
Today’s post is going to be the first time I’ve presented a partially completed project – for the simple reasons that I feel it’s probably useful to discuss the creative process, because it’ll make a good follow on to this post on projects in general and because I have honestly no idea if or when I’ll ever be able to complete this set. The idea behind Crust is fairly self-explanatory: the dried, hard, textured earth from the air in monochrome – all the better to enhance the suggestion we may well be looking at a highly magnified burnt breakfast offering*.
*And I think I might well shoot that as the title image, too.
Today’s photoessay is a series of images that is both a continuation of the dreamscape series and the result of spending far too much time on an aeroplane in the last few months – think of it as the fruit of doing a little homework before departure. Of course, shooting from a chartered helicopter is nice, but also not something undertaken without a client or access to a central bank’s vault – preferably from a country that’s still solvent.
During the last ten years, it’s quite possible that I’ve photographed in just about every accessible (and some inaccessible) location in downtown Kuala Lumpur. Many times, I’ve revisited the same location multiple times at different times of day and in different weather conditions to try and get something unusual; the more often you go, the more likely it is to be a bust – that’s just the law of probabilities at work. One location I don’t go to very often – mainly because of weather and its one-trick-pony nature – is the KL Tower; 421m to the top of the spire, about 335m to the outdoor observation deck, and a little bit more altitude (50m? 70m?) by virtue of being on top of another hill in roughly the highest part of the city. There are two challenges: one, good weather at the times of day when the sun is still casting interesting shadows; two, there’s always some degree of atmospheric haze or pollution, visible especially with distant subjects even if you’re on the roof deck with no glass in the way. My challenge for this visit – on the spur of the moment to make the most of a break in the schedule and a clear morning – was to try and make something different… MT
After a surprising number of enquiries about this image, I’ve decided to offer it as a print in a limited run of 20 12×12″ Ultraprints, and 10 20×20″ versions. As with all previous prints, they will be printed by printmaster Wesley Wong, personally checked and QC’d by me and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. Both prints are on a matte fine art fiber paper – Permajet Portrait White 285 – which we have found after much experimentation to have the best blend of density, gamut, detail differentiation and transparent tonality. You can read more about the rationale behind Ultraprinting here and a view a comparison to a regular print here.
One of my recent assignments in Hong Kong involved some helicopter time; I made the most of the lull in transit between locations by doing a little sniping. I’m sure there was some subconscious inspiration by Yann Arthaus-Bertrand’s Earth from the air, but for the most part, I was doing my usual search for interesting geometries (and admittedly, some landmarks) but in mostly two dimensions.