A photographer captured the Earth as a strange new world

In 1799, German naturalist and researcher Alexander von Humboldt embarks on a journey through America, cataloging everything he can find: plants, minerals, capybaras, canals, etc. Humboldt suggests that the world is “one great living organism in which everything is connected” – a theory that will inspire Charles Darwin. He introduced the concept of ecosystems and was among the first naturalists to note the destructive impact of humanity on Earth.

In 2017, a photographer Christopher Edward Rodriguez came across the writings of Humboldt. He wondered what a camera could really see when almost every inch of the planet was “shaped, directed, and photographed to death.” He embraced Humboldt’s ideas and traveled across America to create a series of images that show the planet “as if it had never been seen before.” He uses long exposures, artificial lighting and color gels to “bypass the scientific accuracy of the camera.” His aim for the photos was to convey a mood of “constant strangeness” that embodies Humboldt’s forgotten principle: “Everything is interaction and reciprocity.”

“Blusher” mushrooms. Salisbury, New York.

Photo: Christopher Edward Rodriguez

Morpho peleides butterflies, one of the largest species in the world, caught in the middle of a metamorphosis in Costa Rica.

Photo: Christopher Edward Rodriguez

Assistant photographer in a cave in Painted Hills in Nevada.

Photo: Christopher Edward Rodriguez

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