The Colours of David Burdeny’s Salt

Artist David Burdeny’s ongoing series of arial photographs of Utah’s Great Salt Lake – sometimes referred to as America’s Dead Sea – look like incredible paintings dreamt up by someone with a good eye for colour combining. The photographer, who originally trained as an interior designer and then architect, aimed to give the unusual landscape a unique treatment. “The locations have been photographed many times before in a horizon-less patterned sort of way, which I was not interested in repeating,” he told us. “I decided to photograph them as elevated landscapes with the horizon and sky in the frame in an effort to make the viewer feel more connected to them and get a real sense of place versus treating the ponds as an abstract tapestry of colour.”

Saltern Study 01 | David Burdeny | The Chromologist

Saltern Study 02 | Utah from the sky | The Chromologist

The project started with the artist’s interest in the many ‘pink lakes’ that exist naturally around the world.  “Lac Rose, Senegal  in particular was one I had wanted to photograph from the air, but the logistics of flying a camera over it proved difficult. I had flown over the Salt ponds near San Francisco and Salt Lake City many times before and decided to try a location closer to home,” he says.

Practically, the job of shooting the scenes entailed what sounds like a hair-raising process, not least because of the precision required to get the shots. David flew in a Robson 44 Helicopter with the doors removed and each trip up lasted only around 1.5 hours. “About half that time was used just to get to the location,” he says.

Saltern Study 03 | David Burdeny photography | The Chromologist

Saltern Study 04 | The Chromologist

Saltern Study 07 | Utah arial shots | The Chromologist

As for the unbelievable colours?

“Yes they are in fact that vivid and depending on the time of day and sun angle they change in saturation. I sometimes underexpose them slightly to make the colours denser and less pastel,” says David. “I have plans to revisit the areas in the spring/summer to capture them under a different season.  The colours of the ponds seem to change almost daily as do the shapes of them as they move the water from one area to another – they’re the result of algae in the saline water and as they pump one to another the colours tend to mix, change and dilute like a giant earthbound water-colour painting.”Saltern Study 08 | Salt Lake | The Chromologist

Saltern Study 09 | The ChromologistFollow David Burdeny’s work on his website.

Jill Macnair


Jill Macnair has worked as an interiors journalist for 13 years, contributing to titles including Elle Decoration, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. She set up cult interiors blog My Friend’s House in 2009 with Ros Anderson and continues to run the forum daily.

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