2012 Indy Info
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Last updated at 6:11 PM on 26th October 2011
At first glance they’re beautiful, but these incredible snaps reveal something far more ugly.
J Henry Fair’s spectacular aerial images show the devastation man has wreaked on America.
Pollution is exposed on a massive scale, creating striking vivid colours that highlight the scars of spillages, open cast mining, chemical and oil leaks, industrial decay and deforestation.
A river bleached white with the waste of aluminium production snakes through the parched Louisiana landscape before emerging into a muddy red lake in Darrow where the colours swirl together as on a palette
Cast-offs: This shows oil from sand extraction at Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. After the bitumen is removed, vast quantities of ‘tailings’ remain, which are the residue containing everything but the bitumen
Stain on the landscape: The process of extracting oil from sand leaves behind large tracts of yellow sulphur. Here, again at Fort McMurray, the stored sulphur is dramatically veined by a blood-red polluted river
Mr Fair, from New York, said the beauty of the pictures draws people in and then they learn the reasons for the vivid colours and the shapes.
He said: ‘I have been concerned about environmental issues for a long time as well as being fascinated by the graphic beauty of machines and the importance of industrial decay.
‘All of these interests combine in this body of work.
‘They came together a few years ago with the realisation that this subject matter could move people to potentially have the power to change our direction for the better.
View from above: Photographer J Henry Fair took his pictures from the air. ‘Because the pictures are so beautiful, people want to learn more about what is going on in each image.’
Bold: It may seem a beautiful scene but bushes burst out of a sea of green. This is in fact a pond swirled with the world’s most widely used herbicide, which is manufactured in nearby Luling, Texas
Dirty: It looks like a snowy and baron landscape but it is in fact the vast waterways of Florida scarred by the production of phosphate fertiliser
Gasses captured from the leaking Macondo well: Water is sprayed constantly on the structural parts to prevent their overheating in the Gulf of Mexico
‘By the time I am actually photographing something, so much research has gone into the subject that my understanding of it forces me to see it for what it is.
‘During the shooting process, I am looking to compose and create images that will captivate, so in some sense I am attempting to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.
‘I have found that the reason this project has had so much success is because the beauty of the images initially draws audiences in; they are captivating in the same way that timeless pieces by the great abstract expressionists are.
‘I think that if the initial beauty in the photographs was not present, the project would not have the same affect on people.
‘Because the pictures are so beautiful, people want to learn more about what is going on in each image.’
Mr Fair has a photographic studio in New York and his images are available in his new book called ‘The Day After Tomorrow: Images of Our Earth in Crisis.’
Powerful: ‘I think that if the initial beauty in the photographs was not present, the project would not have the same effect on people. Because the pictures are so beautiful, people want to learn more about what is going on in each image.’ Here the damage from a steam plant in North Carolina is shown in a cold scene
‘Red mud’: The shocking red colour marks where the earth has been scarred by Bauxite waste from aluminium production, which contains significant amounts of heavy metal contamination. Pictured at Darrow, Louisiana
Oil plant: Here the effects of toxins produced in an oil refinery in Alberta, Canada, are pictured. A puddle of black and dark purple expands from its centre
Stark: Despite looking like something under water or inside the body, this is Geismar, Louisiana, which is polluted with gypsum, sulphuric acid and an assortment of heavy metals, including uranium and radium
Dramatic: A streak of bright blue runs into an ash disposal pond close to a coal-fired power station at New Roads, Louisiana. The area around looks like harsh and dark brush strokes on a canvas
Rainbow: The dark scene is broken with a spray of colour. This is where petroleum coke is cooked to become asphalt, or other industrial products. This shows a rainbow refraction in liquid jetting from a pipe surrounded by coke in Texas
Agent orange: This picture is clearly of the sea but the dramatic lines and swirls are oil from BP’s Deepwater Horizon spills at the Gulf Macondo well as it floats on the Gulf of Mexico
Polluted: The bright green, which looks like a thick layer of algae is in fact a pond full of herbicide in Luling, Texas
Deep cuts: JCBs and trucks are shown doing their work as they excavate sand at Fort McMurray, in Alberta. The picture shows the sheer scale and depth of the mining
Bright: This chemical plant near New Orleans makes derivatives used in a range of products, from cosmetics to plastic wrappings and paint additives. The pollution produced looks like a series of biological cells in this photo
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