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Toxic Beauty

Nature, second prize stories

June 16, 2013

Effluent from the Belchatów Power Station, the largest coal-fueled thermal plant in Europe, and one of the highest emitters of CO2 among power stations worldwide.

Views from the air reveal an impact of industry on the environment that is hard to see from the ground, as effluent leeches into the Polish landscape—coal ash (the waste that remains after coal is combusted, containing toxic heavy metals) from power stations, by-products of mining, emissions from chemical factories.

Commissioned by: Panos Pictures

Photo Credit: Kacper Kowalski

Kacper Kowalski, born in 1977, was supposed to be an architect. Yet five years of studies and four of designing were more than enough for him. In 2006, he eventually quit his job and turned to his two true passions: flying and photography.

Both a pilot and a photographer, he takes unique control over each shot, capturing previously unseen natural environments and ordinarily inaccessible cityscapes. The results are unreal, almost graphic images, which reveal patterns, symmetries, and asymmetries created by humans and nature.

His aerial photographs have received numerous awards, including World Press Photo awards (2009, 2014), Picture of the Year International POYi awards (2012, 2014), NPPA Best of Photojournalism award (2013), and the Sony World Photography Award (2014).

His first photography book, Side Effects, was published in early 2014. He is represented by the Panos Pictures agency for editorials, his fine arts prints are available by Leica Gallery Warsaw. He lives and works in Gdynia, Poland.


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