These remarkable photographs of terraced fields are from In Focus edited by Alan Foster.
Graduated terrace steps are commonly used to farm on hilly or mountainous terrain. They have existed for almost as long as developed agriculture. Their history includes the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the mountains surrounding the great Inca city of Machu Picchu, and 1930’s hay farms in Mississippi.
For thousands of years, when farmers in mountainous regions have expanded their farms to grow crops on the steep slopes, they have carved massive steps into the terrain, forming terraces of many small platforms. Following the contours of the mountains, the edges of the terraces create sinuous patterns in the landscape, presenting picturesque images. Gathered here are photos from China, Switzerland, Vietnam, Peru, the Philippines, and Japan. – Alan Foster
The images are stunning and subtle and complex. They reiterate the same patterns while being profoundly different from each other. They abstract the landscape in an aesthetic that I find exquisite.
Photo taken on March 6, 2014, shows the scenery of terraced fields in Yuanyang County, China. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee added China’s Honghe Hani Rice Terraces to its World Heritage List on June 22, 2013. Yang Zongyou / Xinhua Press / Corbis
Terraced rice fields of the Honghe Hani Rice Terraces in Yuanyang county, Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture, China, on January 12, 2016. Yang linhua /Imaginechina
A farmer walks amid a terrace paddy field in Suichuan county, Jiangxi province, on June 1, 2013.China Daily / Reuters
A view of a rice paddy along the mountain slopes of Banaue city, Ifugao province, north of Manila, on April 16, 2008. John Javellana / Reuters
I had a really difficult time making the choices for these photos. I could just have easily chosen a different and equally beautiful group of four. Look at all of them.