The best Halloween stories are true. There is a lake in Tanzania, Lake Natron, that is so hostile to life that only two species, alkaline tilapia and blue-green algae can live in its deadly waters. For the rest of us, its water is so caustic it will burn your lungs (and melt the ink off your film boxes, if you’re a photographer) as it turns you slowly to stone. Nobody knows exactly how it kills, but it is thought that its thick, stagnant waters produce a surface so glassy calm that birds and small mammals are lured into its clutches like a songbird to a window on a sunny day. But whatever they see in the reflection is only a mirage and once immersed, the heavy waters trap the unlucky victims, turning them to stone.

Photographer Nick Brandt came across these unlucky victims on the shores of Lake Natron and posed them as though they were living to produce these haunting images. They are part of a photography exhibit on display in New York and LA through Nov. 2nd, as well as in Santa Fe, NM and Paris, Berlin, London and Brussels through out the winter. They are also contained within Brandt’s new book, Across the Ravaged Land.

Happy Halloween.

Nick Brandt's portfolio

Across the Ravaged Land

Hasted Kraeutler Gallery, New York

Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles