Nick Brandt Captures the Beauty in These Deceased, Calcified Animals
When it comes to photography, it often takes a lot to truly drop my jaw, but the first image I saw of Nick Brandt’s series of calcified animals from his new book “Across The Ravaged Land” (Abrams 2013) floored me. The images depict deceased animals from Lake Natron in northern Tanzania. These have to be some of the most beautifully captured images of death I have ever seen.
The water in Lake Natron isn’t too friendly to life, as the alkalinity is between pH 9 and pH 10.6 and water temperatures can reach 60 degrees celsius. Animals that find themselves submerged in the water die and become calcified. The animals were then arranged in their poses.
“The notion of portraits of dead animals in the place where they once lived is what also drew me to photographing the creatures in the Calcified series:
I unexpectedly found the creatures – all manner of birds and bats – washed up along the shoreline of Lake Natron in Northern Tanzania. No-one knows for certain exactly how they die, but it appears that the extreme reflective nature of the lake’s surface confuses them, and like birds crashing into plate glass windows, they crash into the lake. The water has an extremely high soda and salt content, so high that it would strip the ink off my Kodak film boxes within a few seconds. The soda and salt causes the creatures to calcify, perfectly preserved, as they dry.
I took these creatures as I found them on the shoreline, and then placed them in ‘living’ positions, bringing them back to ‘life’, as it were. Reanimated, alive again in death.”
CALCIFIED BAT II, LAKE NATRON, 2012
CALCIFIED FISH EAGLE, LAKE NATRON, 2012
CALCIFIED FLAMINGO, LAKE NATRON, 2010
CALCIFIED SONGBIRD, LAKE NATRON, 2010
CALCIFIED SWALLOW, LAKE NATRON, 2012
CALCIFIED DOVE, LAKE NATRON, 2010
[Original Story via New Scientist]
All images used with permission.