A Stunning Natural Phenomenon, Abstracted From Above

A Modern artwork? A Martian landscape? Nope, that’s just a crazy pink lake in Western Australia, seen through the lens of photographer Steve Back.

Charged with shooting some landscape photographs to adorn the walls of a hotel in Perth, photographer Steve Back was desperately searching for a destination in Western Australia that looked “in any way different or interesting.” His first thought was a series of reef-ringed islands off the continent’s Western coast, so he chartered a small aircraft to scope them out from above. While he was up there, he figured he’d have a look at the Hutt Lagoon, a body of water on the Western edge of the continent that through a quirk of nature is totally, vibrantly pink.


The photographer says he’d found the phenomenon “uninteresting” from the ground. From the sky, however, it was a totally different story. In just one pass, over the course of some 30 minutes, he snapped these photos–a series of closely-cropped compositions that only serve to enhance the lake’s otherworldly splendor.

Wait a minute. A pink lake? Yes, that’s right. Thanks to a confluence of natural factors, the super-salty, eight-mile-long lagoon is home to a crazy amount of algae which produce an immense amount of beta-carotene, a reddish pigment that helps protect the plant life from the harsh sunlight. And while an undeniably weird natural phenomenon from its shores, the Lagoon was irresistible to Back from the sky.

“As an architectural and interior photographer I am mostly concerned with composition,” he explains, “and this work with the pink lakes allows me to work with pure composition. I always like to create images that are a little different–even in my commercial work…I like that sense of weirdness or oddness in my images that hopefully stop the viewer in their tracks for a brief moment, to make them inquire and question what they are seeing, to challenge them in some small way.”

With the Hutt Lagoon photos, which were exhibited in Australia last year as part of a show called “Terra Incognita,” calling that challenge a small one is something of an understatement.

Prints of the photographs are available on Back’s site, where you can also find plenty more of his work.

[Hat tip: It’s Nice That]