Ed Burtynsky’s Aerial Pictures of Watery Landscape

Apr 20, 2014 0 comments

Edward Burtynsky is Canada’s most respected photographers known for his remarkable photographic depictions of global industrial landscapes and its consequences on the environment. His most recent installment is called “Water”.

Water tells us the story of where water comes from, how we use it, distribute and waste it. Often using a bird’s-eye perspective, the photographer shows us its remote sources, remarkable ancient step-wells and mass bathing rituals, the transformation of desert into cities with waterfronts on each doorstep, the compromised landscapes of the American Southwest. Furthermore, Burtynsky explores the infrastructure of water management: the gigantic hydroelectric dams and terraced rice fields in the heart of China, the vast irrigation systems of America’s bread basket and the use of aquaculture. The colour photographs in this book are poetic and at the same time highly relevant: they reveal another vital component of our life on earth that drives the bloom of civilization, and foreshadow the extent to which our future depends on our everyday behaviour in dealing with this increasingly scarce resource.


Available in the form of a book, Water puts the images into six categories:

“Distress” shows landscapes destroyed by human use of water. Most striking is the delta where the Colorado River once flowed into Mexico’s Gulf of California, before the great dams of the American Southwest began diverting its water to US agriculture and industry.

“Control” examines large-scale incursions imposed upon the earth to harness and divert the power of water; from the ancient Stepwells of India, to the modern canals that feed precious water to millions in California, and gigantic hydroelectric dam projects of China.

“Agriculture” claims a big slice of the project because nearly 70 per cent of all fresh water is dedicated to agriculture.

“Aquaculture” provides a glimpse into fish and crustacean cultivation, and looks as those places where land and sea is been shaped to serve the purposes of growing and harvesting water-based crops such as salt, fish, shrimp, seaweed and rice.

“Waterfront” covers the way we shape land to create waterfront properties, and speaks about the human need and desire to be near water.

“Source” comes from Burtynsky’s journey to British Columbia and Iceland, places where a critical stage in the hydrological cycle takes place: the mountains, containing glaciers and snow. They are the first landscapes in over thirty years Burtynsky took focussing specifically on pristine wilderness, instead of the imposition of human systems upon it.

Ed Burtynsky’s previous works on Amusing Planet.


Markarfljót River, Iceland 2012.


Salinas, Cá‡diz, Spain 2013.


San Joaquin Valley, California 2009.


Submerged Pipeline, Gulf of Mexico, June 24, 2010


Stepwell, Nahargarh Cistern, Jiapur, India 2010.


Shasta Lake Reservoir, Northern California, USA 2009.


Oil Spill, Discoverer Enterprise, Gulf of Mexico, USA 2010.


Xiaolangdi Dam, Yellow River, Henan Province, China 2011. See more pictures of annual san washing operation of the Xiaolangdi Dam


Cerro Prieto Geothermal Power StationBaja, Mexico, 2012


VeronaWalk, Naples, Florida, USA 2012.


Marine aquaculture, Luoyuan bay, Fujian province, China, 2012


Thjorsa river, Iceland, 2012


Colorado River Delta, Sonora, Mexico, 2012


Rice terraces in western Yunnan province, China, 2012. See beautiful pictures of rice terraces.


Sagar Kund Baori step well in Bundi, Rajasthan, India, 2010. Read about chand baori step well.


Dryland Farming, Monegros County, Aragon, Spain 2010.


Dryland Farming, Monegros County, Aragon, Spain 2010.


Polders, GrootschermerThe Netherlands, 2011


Benidorm, Spain 2010. See aerial photos of beaches by Gray Malin


Benidorm, Spain 2010.


Glacial Runoff


Colorado River Delta, Near San Felipe, Baja, Mexico 2011.


Mount Edziza Provincial Park, Northern British Columbia, Canada 2012.


Glacier Catchment, Scud River, Northern British Columbia, Canada 2012.


Container Port, Maasulakte, Rotterdam, The Netherlands 2011.


Kumbh Mela, Allahabad, India 2013.


Dyralaekir River on Myrdalssandur, Iceland 2012.


Salton Sea, Eastern Shore, California, USA 2009. Read more about Salton Sea


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