• Fantasy Lands

    • Captured by the geologist and photographer Bernhard Edmaier, this photographic series astounds us once again by portraying the most underestimated element of all: the colour of geography.

    The science behind the colours of the Earth / 

    A geologist by trade, the photographer Bernhard Edmaier has spent the last twenty years travelling around the world in search of the perfect photograph of subjects he has previously carefully studied. In addition to his geological knowledge, his creativity has resulted in some of the most breathtaking photographs of coral reefs, dunes, hot springs, thick forests and icebergs of a mythological appearance.

    ‘Together with my partner Angelika Jung-Hüttl, I do a lot of internet research, including Google Earth [searches], study satellite images of planned destinations, maintain close contact with local scientists and commercial pilots, deal with various authorities and negotiate flight permits,’ says Edmaier. ‘It can take months of research until the moment of shooting has arrived.’

    When everything is ready, and the execution day arrives, the German photographer boards a small airplane or a helicopter and asks the pilot to fly precisely over the place he wishes to capture. His favourite motifs are usually extensive geological structures. The aesthetic he captures evokes the feeling of looking at an abstract painting where forms can resemble anything we can imagine. Our eyes can spend several minutes relaxing before a crevice or a geological rupture. Additionally, the absence of coordinates enables his work to be open to speculation. In his most recent book, EarthART, published by Phaidon, the aerial geologist presents the reader with over 150 images organised by colour: blue, green, yellow, violet, brown, grey and white.

    Each one of the images is accompanied by a legend explaining their locations and why these spectacular colours occur. The oranges and yellows, and the reds and browns, for example, are the results of a chemical alteration of the iron in volcanic rocks that become iron oxide and hydroxide. The book can be read as plea asking us to not take the colours and geological marvels that surround us for granted. The introduction explains how the different tonalities of the Earth have developed over the course of 4.6 million years.

    Edmaier believes that most humans have an anthropomorphic understanding of the world. ‘In our imagination, the Earth or its surface is something eternal or with very little changes. But the opposite is true. Infinite processes are continuously remodelling the surface and interior of the Earth. But only a few processes are directly observable,’ he points out. The photographer specifically chooses landscapes that have not been touched or altered by nature.

    Tagged: Bernhard Edmaier, nature, books, photography