Otherworldly Landscapes

I often feature photographs that seem to capture otherworldly landscapes. It’s a habit and a hobby to look at abstract images and wonder what they might be before finding out what they actually are. I imagine alien landscapes, or apocalypses. Far flung planets or obscure corners of our own. Sometimes the photos depict just that, landscapes that defy human imagination, our own alien landscapes right here on Earth. Sometimes the photos are so abstract they could be anything. Either way, I see stories. I think of these photographs as the landscapes of my many, imaginary worlds. No doubt, the photographers think somewhat the same.

I wonder what Andre Ermolaev saw when he captured this series of aerial photographs? Volcanic Iceland is the simple answer. Art is another. Each photo is art, but could also be a painting, the imagination of another artist preserved for all by the photographer.

Did he imagine a giant paintbrush? The scope of the photographs is amazing. Did he research the natural phenomena behind the artful landscapes? I imagine he did. Did he wonder, even if just for a second, if an unseen hand had shaped the land? That a space ship had left a contrail across the sand, or burned a passage through the ice, forever shaping our planet.

Reading his comments, it seems he was captured the by lines first and foremost. The patterns and the unique perspective of the aerial view. I like to think he imagined something more far-fetched, though, just for that brief second.

To view more of Andre Ermolaev’s stunning photography visit http://500px.com/andreabe and http://andreabe.fishup.ru/.

Ramble: Landscapes of an Imaginary World

As a reader (and a writer), I enjoy an active imagination. Words on a page inspire flights of fantasy, and though my vision may not match that of the author, if I have gone somewhere, they have been successful.

When I am describing a scene, I have a picture of it in my head, which I assume most writers do. Some, however, might use a reference. I know I have seen places that should be written about–a building, an alleyway, a copse or cliff. A line of mountains. I tuck these away in a notebook and save pictures when I can. There are a lot of places that, taken out of context (excised from Earth), appear otherworldly. In the case of architecture, I like to believe this is often on purpose. In nature, however, almost anything seems possible.

Leafing through the May 2012 National Geographic this morning, I stumbled across a picture that fired my imagination.

This is Litlanesfoss, Iceland. The columns were formed by an ancient lava flow. Though not regular, the hexagonal shape of the columns immediately inspired thoughts of video games—and jumping puzzles. Rather than a photo, I saw concept art…and I loved it. I wanted to write about this place, I want to describe it in words and turn it into the landscape of an imaginary world.

Iceland features a lot of such places, as a quick browse of available images will show, but there are inspiring landscapes in my own backyard as well.  I drive past a reservoir on my way into town. Many mornings, particularly in the spring and autumn, the water is obscured by mist. I wonder if there is an island in there, a secret one that only appears when the mist settles across the water. One day, I’ll look for it.