Trees stained by a toxic spill, with the high-tide line aligned to the horizon

This image comes from The Line, a book of photos by Palíndromo Mészaros, "a Spanish photographer and architecture student whose life jumps between Madrid and Budapest." It shows the high-tide line of an aluminum spill from a chemical factory in Hungary, which flooded out a forest in Ajka. Mészaros lines up the red residue with the horizon, producing an effect that is beautiful and terrible and delightfully disorienting. The book, which is produced on demand through Blurb is €127.92, and is printed on Proline Pearl photo paper - 32'4 x 27'6 cm.

"The Line photobook" (via Reddit)


  1. if he hadn’t lined up the flood level with the horizon, my brain would not be screaming “photoshop!”

    1. Heh. I was just sitting here debating whether this was the sort of post that was worthy of a one or two word comment. I’d just decided yes, yes it was. :3 

      (I was just gonna say “Fuckin’ hell.” :) )

  2. Forgive me but my sciency bits started to twitch when I read ” high-tide line of an aluminum spill”.  This is not a aluminum spill, this is the spill of waste products from refining aluminum from aluminum ore or “bauxite”. Bauxite contains iron based compounds that give it a reddish color,  and are also the waste from processing which is what spilled.

    Still horrible / beautiful though.

  3. All I have to say? mind = blown. In all seriousness though this is an utterly gorgeous picture of a horrible industrial accident. 

  4. INB4 This photo technique has been done before, with high tide/flood (water) lines, and with painted trees. I think those have even been on Boing Boing before. 

    But this is a lot more interesting because of the subject matter, and the stark contrast. Very well done and a great way to draw attention to the spill – if you look at the other images in the book, they’re interesting but not as strikingly effective.

  5. Not to be “that guy”, but the “horizon” is just your eye level. Anything at your eye level (or the camera level) will align with the horizon; that’s what the horizon is. If that spill were two inches off the ground, you could squat down and photograph it at two inches and it’d be on the horizon.

    Doesn’t mean it isn’t horrific, or horrifically beautiful in a strange way… just being a pedantic jerk. Carry on.

    1. I don’t even understand what your pedantry is contradicting. He lined up the spill line with the horizon line of the photograph.  Isn’t that exactly what they’re saying? 

      If he had taken the photo from a higher or lower perspective then the spill line (which is fixed) wouldn’t line up with the horizon in the photograph. No?

    2. Actually, on a perfect sphere, the horizon would be the ‘bottom of your feet’ level. Your eye level is the ‘perspective’.

      1.  Well now we’re being REALLY pedantic. :) Yes that’s true, in that you’d be standing on the horizon if you projected yourself forward to that point, and your feet would be on the line.

        One of the basic art school uses of this fact is that if you’re drawing people who are the same height, and the same height of the viewer, if you scatter a bunch of them at different locations and distances on a plane, their eyes will all be at the same level – right on the horizon – no matter where or how far away they are.

    3.  My understanding is that it’s the intersection of the earth and sky from the observer’s perspective.  It’s not the height of your eyes, but the view from your eyes. 

    4. Hi Steve, I think I understand your confusion. It’s the difference between two ideas:

      • “horizon” a line defining a boundary between earth and sky

      • “horizon line” a horizontal line defining eye level in perspective art

      By arranging his camera so that it rested on a “horizon line” showing the depth and spread of the flood, the photographer created that perfect line of color change across the trees. If his camera was in a different position, the height of the staining on the trees would not line up straight across the image. The information would not be as clear.

      If you follow the Reddit link through to the book you can see another example of this in action. On page 43, there’s a picture of a broken wall. The piece in front (about 4 bricks tall) sits below eye level, and appears to run at an angle downward and to the right. In the back, the higher piece stops just slightly above eye level. It runs at a slighter angle up and to the right.

      So, there’s the difference between “true horizon” and “horizon line”. To be pedantic, BB should have said “to a horizon line” if they wanted to get it right.

    1. It is in Gridlish, a language in which the name would be traditionally rendered as Palinilap.

      (I wonder; is there a word for inventing a conlang designed for the sole purpose of making a silly point?)

  6. This was both a massive and rapid flood from the break of a dam. Nine people died and over a hundred were injured. The plant was taken over by the government as a result. I wonder if Mészaros has considered offering a print of the tree line photo for sale by itself to raise charity funds. I saw no prints for sale at his site.

  7. There’s something here, in this beauty in horror deal, for Daphne Du Maurier? Regarded as a writer of romantic fiction, wasn’t she rather the opposite – precisely because she found beauty in the blue-glowing lakes near Cornish tin mines? Irregardless of the fact (that she knew very well) that this was representative of toxicity caused by horribly high levels of water pollution from the mines. Was this the romantic/classic distinction discussed by Robert M Pirsig in his Zenbikery? I can’t seem to google-up any reference to this.

  8. I thought it was a piece of environmental art by Andy Goldsworthy, who is one of the most awesomest artists around. Check his stuff out if you’re not familiar with him- stunning.

  9. Cory, please fix the spelling of his name. By leaving out the accent from the ‘a’, you gave his name a rather unfortunate meaning. The correct spelling is ‘Mészáros’.

  10. similar to this one:

    and the whole project is here:

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