The Startling Colors and Abstract Shapes of Salt Ponds


A drone camera captured these dazzling colors of salt ponds.
A drone camera captured these dazzling colors of salt ponds.

As an aerial photographer, Tom Hegen is used to seeing the world from a different perspective. But even he was astonished at how salt ponds look from above. “When I started on doing research for this project, I had a certain look of the result in mind,” Hegen says, via email. “I was then really amazed by the vibrant hues, textures and abstract shapes I observed. The size and landscape of those salt gardens is just overwhelming.”

Hegen captured his unique take on a centuries-old process using a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone camera. “The Salt Series explores artificial landscapes where nature is channelled, regulated, and controlled,” explains Hegen. “Salt is a raw material that is now part of our everyday lives, but we rarely ask where it actually comes from and how it is being produced.”

The different colors of salt ponds relates to the levels of salinity in the water. Pink and red hues are caused by a type of algae known as

Hegen’s series was shot around the Mediterranean, which is the ideal climate for salt production. Artificial pools, separated by sand or stone walls, are flooded with seawater. Slowly, the water evaporates, leaving behind brine, which is water with a very high salt concentration. “Each salt pond has a unique salt density,” explains Hegen. “Microorganisms change their hues as the salinity of the ponds increase.”

These microorganisms, which fall under a class of organisms known as halophiles (“salt lovers”), dictate the colors and include different types of algae. Algae-loving brine shrimp also contribute to the process. “As the water becomes too salty,…

Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

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Sasha Harriet

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