Saltscapes: The Kite Aerial Photography of Cris Benton
In Saltscapes, Cris Benton, a retired professor of architecture at UC Berkeley, focuses his camera upon the southern end of San Francisco's South Bay--the site of salt evaporation ponds that are being restored to tidal wetlands and marshes after a century of industrial salt production. Intrigued by these landscapes in his backyard, Benton spent a decade researching their history, hiking the salt-pond levees and taking photographs. The earthbound perspective, however, did not do justice to his attempts to capture the confluence of snowy-looking white salt, marsh grass and mudflats. So he began to experiment with attaching his camera to a kite.
Saltscapes is a fascinatingly detailed account of how he refined the various prototypes that led him to master Kite Aerial Photography (KAP). Mounting his camera to a radio-controlled kite, Benton has photographed the region from heights of up to 300 feet. This unusual vantage point produces distinctive images that peer straight down into the water and the land to reveal unexpected, breathtaking color saturations, textures, shapes, details and form beyond what the eye can discern from the ground--images comparable to the abstract expressionism of Rothko (to whom the photographer himself pays tribute).
Benton's striking photographs visually engage our spatial sensibilities and illustrate exciting, fresh perspectives of a largely unexplored American territory in restorative transformation. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines