Toxic design

Gheorghe Popa's Image

In years of using a drone to capture images of the valley’s ever-changing patterns, Gheorghe had never come across such a striking combination of colours and shapes. However, the vibrant designs are the result of heavy metals from mining seeping into the river.

Mining can lead to deforestation, habitat destruction, and ground and water pollution from chemicals used in extraction. Yet gold and copper are key components of computers, mobile phones and medical innovations – all of which are driving demand.

Read more about this ecological disaster and hear from a Museum scientist about the natural cost of the green revolution.

Behind the lens

Gheorghe Popa

Gheorghe Popa


Gheorghe is a pharmacist but has always loved photography. His current project, Poisoned Beauty, is an artistic protest - a series of aerial photographs that tell the story of the village of Geămana in the Romania's Apuseni Mountains, which became an ecological disaster when it was turned into a tailings pond for waste from copper and gold processing.

Image details

  • DJI Mavic 2 Pro
  • Hasselblad L1D-20c
  • 1/60 sec at f11  •   ISO 100
  • Geamăna, Alba, Romania
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