Photographer Simon Butterworth’s Blue Fields series was shot at the Useless Loop solar salt operation in Shark Bay, the westernmost point of mainland Australia. The series is part of a larger, long-term project, Aesthetics of the Unexpected, which explores the relationship between perception, expectation and reality.

The crystallizers — shallow ponds in which the concentrated brine slowly evaporates, leaving a “crop” of salt crystals — take on the appearance of an abstract watercolor. The crystallizers appear blue because they are reflecting the sky, while the brushstroke patterns are the tracks left by the salt harvesting machine.

The images were shot from a light aircraft flying between 4,000 and 5,000 feet. The height was vital in order to flatten perspective by using long focal lengths. Time and cloud cover were also critical, the abstract effect being heightened by complete lack of signifying shadow.

This series of nine photographs was a finalist in the 2015 Sony World Photographic Awards, picked from more than 173,000 entries from 171 countries.

More In Sight: