Aerial Photos of Surprisingly Colorful Salt Ponds Look Like Abstract Paintings

Drone Photography by Tom Hegen

German aerial photographer Tom Hegen has been examining the industrial scars left by humans for the past two years. From the effects of quarries and coal mining to industrial farming, he's been able to give a new perspective on how humans are shaping the environment. In The Salt Series, he explores the ancient practice of sea salt extraction.

Over the course of two weeks, Hegen traveled the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in order to examine how salt cultivation has shaped the landscape. “I was curious if the salt ponds really looked like how I imagined them to be. I was then really amazed by the vibrant hues, textures and abstract shapes I observed,” Hegen tells My Modern Met. “The size and landscape of those salt gardens are just overwhelming. They reach far into the horizon and cover areas of many square kilometers.”

The brilliant colors and patterns captured in each photograph are astonishing. A full rainbow is on display in the images, distorting the salt ponds into brilliant and captivating abstractions. Yet, underneath the beauty, there's a realization that—however attractive—the results are a manipulation. A manipulation that isn't necessarily positive for our planet.

Aerial Photography by Tom Hegen

“We have left our marks on the earth's surface in order to meet our daily needs,” says Hegen. “I am trying to sensitize the viewer for those subjects by taking a look at the extraordinary forces impacting our environment.” The Salt Series is just one chapter of Hegen's forthcoming book Habitat, which is currently available on Kickstarter. Across 180 pages, 90 photographs, and two essays by experts on the environmental impact of humans, Hegen powerfully demonstrates the concept of Anthropocene.

This proposed era marks the beginning of significant human impact on our ecosystem—including climate change, rising sea levels, the ozone hole, and landscape changes. “I explore the origin and scale of that idea in an effort to understand the dimensions of man’s intervention in natural spaces and to direct attention toward how humans can take responsibility. Aerial photography is a compelling way to document those interventions because it basically makes the dimensions of human force on earth visible.”

Through Habitat, which is supplemented with facts and infographics about the environmental toll of humans' daily needs, Hegen hopes to begin changing the minds and habits of the public at large. “The photos will hopefully inspire and invite the viewer to discover our planet from a different perspective. It should help to understand the dimensions of man’s intervention in natural spaces and to take responsibility for that.”

Aerial photographer Tom Hegen spent several weeks photographing salt ponds around the Mediterranean for The Salt Series.

Tom Hegen - Salt SeriesHabitat by Tom HegenDrone Photography of Salt FieldHabitat by Tom HegenAerial Photo of Salt Quarry by Tom Hegen

The series is part of a larger investigation about the human impact on Earth's ecosystem.

Aerial Photo of Salt Quarry by Tom HegenAerial Landscape Photography by Tom HegenDrone Photography by Tom HegenAerial Landscape Photography by Tom Hegen

Hegen's forthcoming book Habitat is now available via Kickstarter.

Aerial Photo of Salt Quarry by Tom HegenAerial Photo of Salt Quarry by Tom HegenAerial Landscape Photography by Tom HegenAerial Photography by Tom HegenTom Hegen: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Behance | Kickstarter

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Tom Hegen.

Related Articles:

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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