Across his stunning, decades-long oeuvre, Bernhard Edmaier has been animated by a simple desire: “to arouse interest in the earth’s surface untouched by humans.” In this series, titled “Colors of the Earth,” Edmaier presents some of his favorite discoveries from around the world. Each of these aerial photographs depicts a landscape that is free of human interference—as well as free of digital manipulation by Edmaier!

The project, as presented above, has been divided into five color-coded sections, roughly corresponding to Isaac Newton’s original color wheel.

Edmaier’s captions offer some sense of his geographic grounding and deep involvement with his subject. We also would like to share with you a few of his section headers, for further elucidation.

Section BLUE

The oceans are blue, which means blue is the most widespread colour on the earth. Nevertheless, the water of the seas, lakes and rivers only sparkles blue when it is not clouded with floating particles. This is because we can only see the blue part of sunlight when it is reflected off clear water. Glacier ice is blue when the ice crystals are particularly tightly packed. If there is too much air-filled space between them, the light is dispersed, and the ice appears white or grey.


Orange and all its shades between yellow and red are colours of chemical rock weathering. But it is not only ferreous rock that contains these colours: the vegetation in temperate zones and in the tundra of the far north turns yellow-brown and orange in the autumn.

The most intense red that the earth produces comes from deep within the planet—magma. This glowing molten rock rises up volcanic pipes and shoots out of craters in lava fountains or flows out in streams. As it cools, the fluid red mass solidifies into black rock.


After an eruption, the earth around an active volcano is grey-brown, dark grey and jet black, with fresh ash and cooled lava streams covering the ground. White does not occur very often on the earth. Limestone and marble can be pure white. Freshly fallen snow, mountain glaciers and the ice masses at the poles are white, provided they are not mixed with or covered by dust or rubble. White can also be found in hot deserts, although only in the form of salt crusts on the beds of salt lakes from which the water has gradually evaporated in the heat.

—Bernhard Edmaier