The San Francisco Bay Area Salt Ponds are bizarrely beautiful. I was inspired to create this body of work, capturing their unearthly visual appearance and complex history. I wanted to document the razor-sharp lines and neon-hued colors of the bay’s remaining salt ponds as they change throughout the seasons.
What inspired me to spend an entire year dangling from a helicopter in frigid weather to make these images? In the end, it was not just the searing colors and swirling patterns of the salt ponds themselves. It was watching the wildlife and waterfowl return to the area over the years, once again thriving in this land in transition—from canvasbacks, ruddy ducks, and scaups to dabbling ducks and buffleheads. Their return has a special resonance for me. As a Buddhist, the concept of rebirth defines how we grow and redefine ourselves by simultaneously shedding and embracing our painful past. Above all, the idea that an entire landscape can so suddenly be reborn in just one lifetime fills me with hope. What is there at any given moment will not be there soon after. That is why this “damaged” landscape is now gradually returning to nature as a wildlife sanctuary.