The Surreal Grandeur of San Francisco’s Little-Known Salt Fields

The southern end of the San Francisco Bay Area is known for expensive real estate, tech companies, and aerospace engineers. Less well known is its salt content.

Yet the salt industry has been a vital part of the South Bay for more than a century. Fly into any of the region’s airports and evidence of this appears as a vibrant quilt of briny pools in acid green, ochre, and shades of red that look toxic. These algae-infused intake and evaporation ponds, crisscrossed by channels and levees, are a surreal landscape seen best from the air.

Photographer Cris Benton has studied and documented this fascinating area for over 10 years, using cameras held aloft by large handmade kites. In his new book, Saltscapes: The Kite Aerial Photography of Cris Benton (Heyday Press), the retired architecture professor explains that kite aerial photography “fuels my fascination with photography’s capacity to reveal patterns and phenomena that lie beyond the capacities of our native senses.”

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MY AMP GOES TO 11's top eleven posts of 2014

11. Illustrations by Elisa Ancori  (11625 notes)

10. Jessica Harrison: ‘Self Portrait’ skull  (11640 notes)

9. Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger: The Conference.

crystals grown on electronics (11886 notes)

8.Judith G. Klausner: Coming Out of the Medicine Cabinet, 2013-2014  (12,465 notes) 

7. Erik Söderberg: Fractal Experience GIFs  (13,888 notes)

6. Saltscape installation art by Motoi Yamamoto  (17,510 notes) 

5. Dongwook Lee at Arario Gallery  (18,100 notes) 

4.Nikolaus Gansterer: The Gray Matter Hypothesis (19,391) notes 

3. Petros Koublis: from the series In Landscapes, 2012-2013 (19,405 notes)

2. X-Ray GIFs by Cameron Drake (36,649 notes) 

1. Marble and crystal growth sculptures by Livio Scarpella (42,770 notes) 

Thanks to all my subscribers for making this a great year! Wishing you all the best in 2015 

Outcome of sketching at #SSX2015 yesterday. #moleskine #lettering #tw #illustration #halifax #novascotia #digbyns #saltscapes #nautical #ocean #sea #sketch #maritimes #typography #handlettering #quotes #notebook #sailor #beejaedee #eastcoastart #goeast

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“Saltscapes” -  Brett Novak.

“Motoi Yamamoto takes one of the earth’s oldest, most sought-after mineral elements and creates elaborate and painstakingly detailed installations. ”