The unquestionable beauty of Afghanistan

If Afghanistan wasn’t a war zone, I’d have it high on my list of places to visit. From a geographical point of view, it looks absolutely stunning. The trouble is, you very rarely see that side of it. Most of the attention on the country has been as a result of war, death, terror and other unsavoury things.

Landscape photographer Simon Norfolk thought the same. As a regular visitor to Afghanistan since 2001, he returned recently to shoot a series he calls Time Taken as British and US military forces were withdrawing from the country. It’s a look at various parts of the country’s Central Highlands, taken across the differing seasons. They’re beautiful images — as the above illustrates — more like paintings, really, and completely belie the violent and destructive history of the place. But in truth, this is the real Afghanistan – serene, majestic, breathtaking.

A multimedia project featuring the images can be watched here. I highly recommend it if you have some free-time.

“I wanted something that would say not much about soldiers, helicopters, drones, not about all that kind of thing, which fills the press in the West,” Norfolk told TIME Magazine. “I wanted to show something that was the opposite of that.”

He’s certainly achieved his aim. An exhibition of this work will commence at the Michael Hoppen Gallery in London from 3-8 August if you’re in the area.