Brandt discovered the remains of flamingos and other animals with chalky sodium carbonate deposits outlining their bodies in sharp relief. "I unexpectedly found the creatures - all manner of birds and bats - washed up along the shoreline of Lake Natron," Brandt wrote in his book. "No one knows for certain exactly how they die, but ... the water has an extremely high soda and salt content, so high that it would strip the ink off my Kodak film boxes within a few seconds."
"I took these creatures as I found them on the shoreline, and then placed them in 'living' positions, bringing them back to 'life,' as it were," Brandt wrote, referring to the way he repositioned the animals. "Reanimated, alive again in death."
During breeding season, more than 2 million lesser flamingos (Phoenicopterus minor) use the shallow lake as their primary breeding ground in Africa. The flamingos' nests are built on small islands that form in the lake during the dry season.
Lake Natron is one of two alkaline lakes in that area of East Africa; the other is Lake Bahi. Both are terminal lakes that do not drain out to any river or sea; they are fed by hot springs and small rivers. As shallow lakes in a hot climate, their water temperatures can reach as high as 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius).