Photographers know very well how shapes, lines, and patterns make interesting imagery; so do unique angles, perspectives, and vantage points. Cape Town-based fine art photographer Dillon Marsh takes it up a notch with his aerial photographs of some curious-looking markings on the arid west coast of South Africa.
Aptly titled Contours, the set reveals what Dillon describes as a “variety of shapes and symbols that defy interpretation.” Indeed, the lines, loops, and curves which often span kilometers-long landscapes appear to be otherworldly patterns that are both mysterious and fascinating. However, he also mentioned that these vast patterns clustered between the towns of Koingnaas and Kotzesrus weren’t made by ancient civilizations or extra terrestrials. They are simply “long strips of earth ploughed by local sheep farmers, who grew wheat and barley here to feed their livestock.”
Natural vegetation was left in between these ploughed strips of land, making the squiggly lines and shapes of the man-made tracks stand out in Dillon’s photos. He mentioned that it was done to help protect the topsoil from wind erosion during the dry summer months. With the decline of yearly rainfall in the area, these fields are no longer in use, and the natural growth of the vegetation are gradually covering up the farmers’ tracks.
It’s interesting to see the variety of shapes and patterns in Dillon’s work, ranging from the simplest loops and lines, to the more complex and dizzying squiggles. He also did great in choosing a monochromatic, earthy color palette to make the titular contours stand out even more. Everything comes together nicely to paint a picture of an almost alien-like terrain with a seemingly enigmatic story behind it. When you think about this from a creator’s standpoint, one also starts to think about how the light comes into play since all the tones and colors are essentially the same. Contrast is one of the biggest tools here.