These Photographs Turn Flat Landscapes Into Stunning Terrestrial Worm Holes

Randy Scott Slavin’s photographic experiments give landscape panoramas a brand new dimension.

If you ever wanted to experience a worm hole, Randy Scott Slavin’s inventive take on landscape photography is the place to start. In his new series, Alternate Perspectives, he takes a flat, panoramic image and wraps it, so that the edges of the picture are swept up, stretched overhead, and then folded back on themselves. In the center of most lies a perfectly circular vortex. “I wanted to see how far panoramic photography could go,” says Slavin, who fell in love with the inverted worlds of M.C. Escher as a kid.

Randy Scott Slavin

Once Slavin chooses a landscape–a city, or river, or mountain–he uses a specially calibrated tripod to take 360-degree panoramic photos in every direction. Then he maps the digital image onto a 2-D plain and starts to manipulate it into the classic Slavin spiral. “People write in asking how to do this,” he says. “I can point you in the right direction, but it’s really about knowing how to shoot landscapes.”

It’s nearly impossible to light a landscape, for example, so Slavin spends a lot of time choosing the right moment. When he photographed the Empire State Building for an earlier version of this series, he visited the building every morning in the freezing cold for two weeks straight, just waiting for the light to hit correctly.

Camelback Mountain

One of his favorite shots from the current series was taken at Camelback Mountain in Phoenix. Slavin did not anticipate how steep or long the trail would be, so by the time he reached the look out, the sun was going down. “I started to get a little nervous because I didn’t have a headlamp, and I wasn’t sure how I’d get off the mountain,” he recalls. But then he got lucky. As the sun descended on one side of the mountain, the moon was rising on the other side. “For a split second, it was just magical,” he says. “I forgot all about getting down. I just started shooting.”

About the author

Jennifer Miller is the author of The Year of the Gadfly (Harcourt, 2012) and Inheriting The Holy Land (Ballantine, 2005). She's a regular contributor to Co.Create.