Unearth

Unrefined beauty: photographs taken from a small plane with its door removed reveal Rotterdam’s ore deposits and oil refineries to be an unexpected wellspring for an imposing abstract series.

  • Words + Photography: Brendan Austin

The Unearth series of pictures were taken from the air above the industrial harbour of Rotterdam. I have always been drawn to photographing industrial and disused locations, including secret tunnels under London, a nuclear submarine base in Crimea and a radio telescope in Latvia. However, nothing prepared me for the incredible raw patterns of the oil refineries and piles of ore deposits in Rotterdam.

‘Graphic form has always been a driving aspect of my work. I am always in pursuit of simplification, minimal lines and negative space.’

Shooting from a small plane with the door removed and circling in hard turns above the smoke pipes, I felt like I was literally hanging in the sky, looking directly down onto what we have unearthed from nature.

‘Technically my priority is to create images that are not flat - a challenge when shooting aerials.’

Graphic form has always been a driving aspect of my work. Technically my priority is to create images that are not flat – a challenge when shooting aerials.

‘Whenever possible I like to shoot in pairs or as a triptych. Unearth gave me the opportunity to set up a grid like series.’

My father worked as an oil engineer, so in many respects I have been brought up with a connection to these areas. I’m fascinated by the complexities of the refinery; the intricate details of the pipes and switches.

This was set directly alongside the endless piles of crude ore, like an example not only of our ingenuity, but also the undeniable cost to the environment.

Brendan Austin is a photographer based in London.

Article taken from
Articles

Further Reading

Up Close: The Jump

The Holmenkollen ski jump was first opened in 1892, and quickly became one of Norway's iconic landmarks. David Ryle follows some of the skiers taking on the challenge.

Up Close: Wall of Death

The stuntmen of Allahabad, north India, risk their lives daily by riding motorbikes around vertical walls made from salvaged wood. Defying gravity through sheer momentum, they create a vertiginous, noisy whirl of action to enthrall the crowds.

Truly Madly Deeply

Iridescent scales, exotic patterns, fluorescent fins: the jewels of the ocean. Ali bin Thalith’s passion for marine photography, kindled by his wish to capture a shot of the rare crystal octopus, has lasted for over 10 years 

North: Svalbard

A short film about how an archipelago high within the Arctic Circle became increasingly linked to developments in climate science, and climate change.

Up Close: Geothermal

A bird's-eye view reveals the Cerro Prieto Geothermal Field, Mexicali, Mexico - one of the biggest geothermal plants in the world - as it has never been seen before.

Seda Monastery

Perched on the edge of the Tibetan plateau, one of the largest religious institutes in the world lives under the threat of demolitions by the Chinese government.
Browse by Category