Black and white and beautiful: The world through Sebastiao Salgado's lens

Valdes Peninsula, Argentina. (2004). -- PHOTO: SEBASTIAO SALGADO AND AMAZONAS IMAGES
Valdes Peninsula, Argentina. (2004). -- PHOTO: SEBASTIAO SALGADO AND AMAZONAS IMAGES
The Antarctic Peninsula. (2005). -- PHOTO: SEBASTIAO SALGADO AND AMAZONAS IMAGES
The Antarctic Peninsula. (2005). -- PHOTO: SEBASTIAO SALGADO AND AMAZONAS IMAGES
North Of Ob River. Inside The Arctic Circle. Yamal Peninsula, Siberia. (2011). -- PHOTO: SEBASTIAO SALGADO AND AMAZONAS IMAGES
North Of Ob River. Inside The Arctic Circle. Yamal Peninsula, Siberia. (2011). -- PHOTO: SEBASTIAO SALGADO AND AMAZONAS IMAGES
Mursi Village Of Dargui In Mago National Park, In The Jinka Region. Ethiopia. (2007). -- PHOTO: SEBASTIAO SALGADO AND AMAZONAS IMAGES
Mursi Village Of Dargui In Mago National Park, In The Jinka Region. Ethiopia. (2007). -- PHOTO: SEBASTIAO SALGADO AND AMAZONAS IMAGES
Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado’s (above) exhibition, Genesis, is a homage to the pristine beauty of far-flung corners of the world through 245 black-and-white photographs. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado’s (above) exhibition, Genesis, is a homage to the pristine beauty of far-flung corners of the world through 245 black-and-white photographs. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado’s exhibition, Genesis, is a homage to the pristine beauty of far-flung corners of the world through 245 black-and-white photographs. The 70-year-old Brazilian lensman spent 12 years on the project making perilous expeditions to 32 remote countries and regions. Here are four highlights of the show:

 1. VALDES PENINSULA, ARGENTINA. (2004)

This photograph captures the sinuous form of the tail of a southern right whale in the waters of the Valdes Peninsula on Argentina’s Atlantic coast.

The whales are drawn to the nature reserve and Unesco World Heritage site because of the shelter provided by its two gulfs, the Golfo San Jose and the Golfo Nuevo.

Often, these 40-tonne marine mammals navigate with their tails upright in the water. Claims have been made that this allows the whales’ tails to function as sails, relying on the wind to help steer them.

When a tail stands immobile for more than 10 minutes, it is likely that the whale is completely vertical in the water in a resting position.

When the tail makes a sudden, swift movement, the burst of energy allows the whale to leap out of water.

2. THE ANTARCTIC PENINSULA. (2005)

This majestic-looking iceberg, photographed between Paulet Island, which is famous for its large penguin colony, and the South Shetland Islands in the Weddell Sea, is uniquely shaped by the elements.

The constant caress of ocean waves wears away the iceberg, leaving behind polished surfaces that mark previous water levels. These water level marks are visible at sea level. 

Wind on the other hand, erodes the iceberg, carving away pieces of ice. The result is a castle-shaped block perched at the top of the iceberg.

3. NORTH OF OB RIVER. INSIDE THE ARCTIC CIRCLE. YAMAL PENINSULA, SIBERIA. (2011)

This photograph was taken 1,000km inside the Yamal Peninsula in north-west Siberia, Russia, and north of the Ob River, which is among the world’s longest rivers.

The environment here is extremely challenging and temperatures may plummet to minus 50 deg C. Even in the day, temperatures remain low because of the fierce winds.

Despite the harsh conditions, the Nenets, an indigenous people in northern arctic Russia who herd reindeers, inhabit the land. When the weather is too hostile for them to move about, they may spend several days in the same place, passing their time by repairing sledges and the reindeer skins they wear to keep warm.

As they move deeper into the Arctic Circle, the herdsmen and reindeers have to contend with pastures that become increasingly sparse.

4. MURSI VILLAGE OF DARGUI IN MAGO NATIONAL PARK, IN THE JINKA REGION. ETHIOPIA. (2007)

Ethiopia are known to wear lip plates, although anthropologists have not been able to say with certainty when the practice began or what its function is. Some believe this form of mutilation makes women appear repulsive to slave dealers and was imposed by men of the tribe to protect women in their families from raids by slave dealers.

However, only women of a high social caste in the tribe have the right to wear lip plates, which they display with pride when they walk around the village in the company of their husbands and sons.