Sulfur is a fascinating element. It is Earth's fifth most common element to be found in the natural world. It typically manifests as a mineral—a sulfide or sulfate. You may have smelled its presence in the “rotten egg” odor of certain natural mineral waters which bubble up from springs. Such springs have long been spa destinations for health and enjoyment, but they can offer incredible, barren beauty as well. Searching for beautiful colors with his infrared camera, photographer Jonas Daley has captured the sulfurous beauty of the Aiken Spring of the Gobi Desert in China's Qinghai Province.
Between northern China and southern Mongolia lies the Gobi Desert—from sand dunes to mountains to deep springs. The Aiken Spring is sometimes known as the “Devil's Eye,” and it lies in China's Qinghai Province. Its name may derive from its over 2,122-foot descent into the cracked earth, from which sulfurous water bubbles up. Its mineral content has kept the surrounding area barren. However, the minerals and their gentle wash across the earth have built painterly layers of bright colors. Earth tones are punctuated by shocking pinks and and brilliant sea greens.
Daley—a China-based photographer—is interested in more than capturing stunning aerial shots of sites such as the Aiken Spring, though. He describes his style as one of magical realism, with “a distinctive and independent color that uses rich imagination and artistic exaggeration to stage ‘special performance' of real life and turn the reality into a kind of ‘magical reality.'” He enjoys venturing into remote places which test the physical limits of the photographer in pursuit of colorful images. Infrared technology is particularly useful to his art, as the camera's sensor can capture infrared light not normally seen. To learn more about his stunning work and to explore more images, check out his website.