Unearthly Places

Photographs of unearthly places nearly always capture my attention—especially when they’re of earthly places. It’s not hard to understand why storytelling is such an integral part of our culture when you see pictures like these. Even the names of these places evoke tales of wonder.

The Door to Hell

"Darvasa gas crater panorama" by Tormod Sandtorv - Flickr: Darvasa gas crater panorama. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons
“Darvasa gas crater panorama” by Tormod Sandtorv – Flickr: Darvasa gas crater panorama. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons

Also known as the Gates of Hell and the Crater of Fire, Darvaza Crater is located in Derweze, Turkmenistan. Darvasa doesn’t have a great story…yet. It’s a natural gas field that collapsed into a cavern in the early 1970s and was set alight to prevent the spread of methane. It’s still burning today and serves as a popular tourist attraction. The name, however, inspires all sorts of stories. This place has been burning for over forty years. Who knows what changes have been wrought within? Perhaps it really is a path to the underworld.

Broken Teeth

Moonrise over Evanston, Illinois by James Jordan
Moonrise over Evanston, Illinois by James Jordan

I named this one. Photographer James Jordan calls it Moonrise over Evanstan, Illinois. Apparently he doesn’t see the broken pylons as the remains of a mountain top fort or what’s left of a forest after a drive of dragons has passed. This could be the sight that greets our adventurers when they crest the last hill. Or, it could be the promontory sailors warned them about. The home of sirens and sea serpents.  Or, maybe he does. 🙂

Night and Day

Night and Day by Nick Venton on 500px.com
Night and Day by Nick Venton

Nick Venton takes gorgeous photographs and obviously has a vision and a story to tell with each one. What I love about this is the juxtaposition of night and day. Taken at sunset, it shows the last part of the day with the night taking over (to paraphrase the photographer’s words). When I look at this photo, I see a planet with two suns. One is setting and the second is rising. The scenery in the foreground is full of stories too. It’s another lake shrouded in mist, but with a little squint or a bit of imagination, that could all be clouds. What lurks below? Or, if that is water, is this an ocean planet? Perhaps it’s a rare thing for the inhabitants to venture above the surface, so sit on those rocks and look at the light of two suns.

Tessellated Pavement

"Tessellated Pavement Sunrise Landscape" by JJ Harrison (jjharrison89@facebook.com) - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons
“Tessellated Pavement Sunrise Landscape” by JJ Harrison (jjharrison89@facebook.com) – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons

There is a science fiction novel about a planet with mysterious lines crisscrossing a vast plane. The story follows the investigation of these lines. I wish I could remember the book. I thought it was by Stanislaw Lem, but I can’t find anything like that in his bibliography. Anyway! That’s what I see when I look at photos of the Tessellated Pavement. I didn’t always see an alien landscape, but I have always been fascinated by this place. It’s at Eaglehawk Neck in Tasmania and it was one of my favourite places to visit as a kid. Even then, my imagination was tickled. The formation of tessellations can be explained by fairly simple geology. It’s no great mystery. But it is nice to picture the pathway to a hidden destination or perhaps a city that no longer exists.

To check out my other posts on otherworldly landscapes and photographs that inspire the imagination, look under the photography tag.

Forgotten Landscapes and Imaginary Settings

From an abstract perspective, photographs of abandoned places hold a lot of appeal. Compositions of light and shadow have always fascinated me. Light and dark intersected by fallen beams and vines or framed by ruined archways are visually interesting. High contrast and muted tones lend ambience to these forgotten landscapes. But are the images attractive? Not always, or not to me. I’m not fascinated by abandoned places. Continue reading “Forgotten Landscapes and Imaginary Settings”

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/.