Travel // The Great Geysers of Yellowstone

A couple years ago, I joined my boyfriend on a road trip around his native Australia. Early in the planning process, as I looked into places we might like to stop along the way, I came across the work of Peter Elfes, an Australian photographer who takes stunning photographs of his country's bizarre salt lakes. In an instant, these chalky, crazy-hued lakes topped my must-see list. And while my photos from the two lakes we visited don't come close to Elfes', the process of finding order and beauty in such unconventional-looking landscapes stuck with me.

Which brings me to a whole lot of photos of geysers, springs, and mudpots from my summer trip to Yellowstone National Park. Like the salt lakes, the geothermal features of Yellowstone aren't conventionally beautiful. Some protrude from the ground like angry blemishes. Others erupt violently, pouring the sour smell of sulfur into the air. Most can be characterized as: crusty, slimy, or both. One, simply named "Mud Volcano", is just that: A bubbling pit of grey-brown mud.

And, just like the salt lakes, in their otherworldliness they offer a kind of freedom to create images that give almost no information about scale, that are abstract in a way that's so much harder to achieve with more familiar subjects. For the same reason, the resulting photos can be uncomfortable or confusing (or, possibly, rather boring). But for me, they're all kinds of fun, both to create and to look at. And so, without further ado, the first instalment from my summer trip to the States, featuring the weird landscapes of Yellowstone.