Stunning Aerial Photos of the San Francisco Bay Salt Ponds

salt ponds sfo

Photographer Julieanne Kost shot a series of delightful photographs from the air of the purple-hued salt flats in the San Francisco Bay as part of her book project, Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography and Creative Thinking. Her aerial photos of the salt flats and bay lands south of San Francisco appear almost abstract when viewed from high above.  While flying south of San Francisco recently, Kost managed to capture the beautiful collection of images.

salt pond aerial

The color in the photos is not retouched in any way, nor was any infrared lens used.  There is no digital manipulation present in these pictures, but instead countless microorganisms in shallow water are what lend the color. What gives them the purplish hue are trillions of microorganisms flourishing inside low salt ponds.

salt pond aerial photography

The amount of time it takes is an average of five years to alter bay water into salt brine.  During that duration the various organisms that exist in the ponds experience a dramatic chromatic shift as the salinity goes up. Scientific as this may sound, the end result is a quite visual experience as one can see. Kost had this to say about shooting the natural phenomenon.

san francisco aerial

“A few weeks ago I had a unique opportunity to fly over the San Francisco Bay area in a small plane with my friend Bryn. James, the pilot was fantastic and the weather was, thankfully, very cooperative. I’d never been in a plane with the doors off, but with the safety harness secure, and a few reassuring words, off we went! Here are a few of the resulting images from the 90 minutes in the air. I certainly never knew that the bay could be so colorful. These images are a part of my ever evolving book project: Window Seat, The Art of Digital Photography and Creative Thinking.”

aerial photo sfo salt pond

See Kost’s collective works here.

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Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.