Photographer Nick Brandt was traveling across Africa doing a photo shoot for a new book he was working on when he came across an amazing sight. While visiting Lake Natron in Tanzania, he noticed birds and animals that appeared to have turned to stone. He knew he had to photograph them.
Lake Natron has a pH as high as 10.5 and can burn the skin or eyes upon contact. Brandt’s photos may look like the animals were instantly turned to stone, but he admits that they are not as they were originally found.
When I saw those creatures for the first time alongside the lake, I was completely blown away,” says Brandt. “The idea for me, instantly, was to take portraits of them as if they were alive.”
“I took these creatures as I found them on the shoreline, and then placed them in ‘living’ positions, bringing them back to ‘life,’ as it were.” “Reanimated, alive again in death.”
Lake Natron is a salt lake so water flows into the lake but does not flow out, making it very alkaline. It’s pH balance is almost as high as ammonia.
So how did these animals get this way? Well they certainly didn’t turn to stone overnight. Many birds fly into the water on accident. The water is reflective and the birds do no realize that they are flying into water and think they are flying through an empty space instead. When the water levels go down, the lake reveals the bodies of the dead birds and other animals that wander into the waters, perfectly preserved.
If you want to see more photos of the stone creatures, watch the video above.
Image from Smithsonian Magazine.