Photographer Peter Franc perfectly captures the colours and textures of Australia's salt evaporation ponds while leaning out of a Cessna 206 at 400ft.
Words & Photography: Peter Franc
This series was taken in Shark Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage area about 800km north of Perth, on the western coast of Australia. These are salt evaporation ponds, where the nearest town is a closed company town with the curious name of 'Useless Loop'. I found out about the area over the last few years whilst searching for interesting places on Google Earth, but it took a while to finally get around to visiting. We hired a campervan and spent about two weeks driving up and down the coast. I hired a small Cessna 206 and requested the pilot remove the doors. I aimed to shoot at midday, so shadows would be minimal and aimed to get some true top-down perspective photos to further abstract the scenes.
It was important to me for the photos to be straight from the camera with no editing, I wanted them to be as honest and true as possible. I'd ask the pilot to tilt the plane and I would literally be looking straight down through the door! As peaceful as the photos look, the whole experience was very chaotic, a combination of the wind and the noise. I was suffering from motion sickness the entire time from shooting through the telephoto lens. Everything was happening so quickly as we flew frighteningly low - perhaps 400ft. We spent around fifteen minutes flying around this area and another forty-five exploring the red sand and blue lagoons.