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Thread: Musings on landscape photography from a landscape ecologist's point of view

  1. #1

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    Musings on landscape photography from a landscape ecologist's point of view

    In my avocation as a photographer, I understand a landscape as a particular location, or the view from a particular location, at a point in time.
    In my vocation as an ecologist whose work and professional passions frequently focus on landscape-scale ecology, I understand a landscape as a space defined by the functioning of a dynamic set of systems of connected and overlapping processes. As a landscape ecologist, I don't tend to view the subject matter in most of what we call "landscape photography" as landscapes. I would be more inclined to categorize them as "nature photography," along with photographs of trees or flowers or wildlife. I've struggled with this dilemma on and off for over 30 years, and it's often been a factor in driving me to set aside landscape photography and focus on other genres instead.

    However, in planning some projects for this summer, I really feel a desire to try capturing landscapes as I understand them from my ecologist's perspective. I'm particularly interested in making imagery that communicates how the moment in time at a given location is influenced by current or previous conditions - both natural and anthropogenic - at other locations, and in making imagery that communicates a process within a space rather than a condition at a location. I have some ideas for how to go about that. Most involve sequential series of images, but others are double exposures with combinations of fast and slow shutter speeds and/or differing DOF, or exposing the same sheet of film in a view camera then a pinhole camera, or using masks to create series of partially overlapped images on the same sheet of film. Needless to say, it will take some experimenting to get to my destination.

    With that background, I'm interested in hearing any relevant thoughts, ideas, or discussion. Some particular questions I have are:

    1. Do you have other suggestions for approaches I might consider to explore those concepts?
    2. Do you know of other photographers doing work along these lines that I might look at for inspiration?
    3. How do you perceive landscapes, and how does that influence your photography?

    Or, if you're thinking what a friend told me yesterday, "You're over-analyzing. Just shut up and go take pictures," that's OK too. Thanks in advance for any ideas or discussion.

  2. #2

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    Re: Musings on landscape photography from a landscape ecologist's point of view

    Quote Originally Posted by bthphoto View Post

    Or, if you're thinking what a friend told me yesterday, "You're over-analyzing. Just shut up and go take pictures," that's OK too.
    You have some wise friend. If you need to think so much about your photography, something is wrong.

  3. #3

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    Re: Musings on landscape photography from a landscape ecologist's point of view

    Quote Originally Posted by Pfsor View Post
    You have some wise friend. If you need to think so much about your photography, something is wrong.
    Perhaps, but I tend to agree with Socrates observation that: The unexamined life is not worth living.

  4. #4

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    Re: Musings on landscape photography from a landscape ecologist's point of view

    Never mind. You still have a wise friend.

  5. #5

    Re: Musings on landscape photography from a landscape ecologist's point of view

    I’ve always considered “landscapes” in photography to be mostly a matter of scale. That is, “landscape photography” includes more than just one or two ‘items’ such as flowers, rocks, trees, etc. as part of the frame. Closer views of ‘items’ in a “landscape” are more properly classified as photos of flowers, rocks, trees, etc.

    This view of course is wholly subjective and personal and is my own definition, for me.

    Bthphoto, your landscapes may be unique in this regard and might even be recognizable by others as your own. I suspect a little verbal explanation with them might really add to the photo. Making this kind of endeavor a great topic for publication as a “book” or some other type of collection.

    Otherwise yes you may be overthinking it.
    --- Steve from Missouri ---

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    Re: Musings on landscape photography from a landscape ecologist's point of view

    Paging Rob de Loe to the white courtesy phone ... lol.

    Personally, I gave up traditional landscape photography (or whatever you wish to call it) as my primary subject matter more than 20 years ago in favor of photographing the urban landscape (or whatever you wish to call that) and for more than the past decade, doing so at night.

    For me -- and YMMV, of course! -- photography works best when done a few hours at a time.

    As such, my typical outing lasts between two and three hours, including the drive (if any) to and from the area(s) being photographed, and my typical post-processing sessions last about the same amount of time.

    Given where I live, it takes me a minimum of an hour each way just to reach a traditional landscape scene worth photographing, let alone actually photographing it. And having to invest the time blindly -- i.e., leaving home in the dark without any idea of the ultimate conditions so I can photograph an area at sunrise -- meant I was always frustrated when the light and/or weather ultimately proved to be a disappointment, as sometimes happens.

    That said, I'm me and you're you, so I suggest you photograph whatever subject matter tickles your fancy at any given point in time and leave the philosophizing to others.

    Remember: Those who can, do; those who can't, teach; those who can't teach, write about it; and those who can't write about it, merely think about it.

  7. #7
    http://www.spiritsofsilver.com tgtaylor's Avatar
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    Re: Musings on landscape photography from a landscape ecologist's point of view

    In the early days of nineteenth century photography the "view" was considered landscape photography as opposed to portrait photography. Hence the name "view camera" came to describe the cameras that were used and "views" were generally of the grand landscape - alia Watkins, Adams, etc.

    Thomas

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    Re: Musings on landscape photography from a landscape ecologist's point of view

    Quote Originally Posted by Audii-Dudii View Post
    Remember: Those who can, do; those who can't, teach; those who can't teach, write about it; and those who can't write about it, merely think about it.
    Also remember: Action Without Thought is Impulsiveness, Thought Without Action is Procrastination. Procrastination rarely produces results, but impulsiveness rarely produces results of any value.

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    Re: Musings on landscape photography from a landscape ecologist's point of view

    To the OP, I love your question. I don't think you're overthinking or overanalyzing. If our goal is only to make pictures that please ourselves, and only ourselves, then by all means go out and shoot and be happy. But if you're trying to say something with your pictures, I think you can't avoid thinking about what you want to say in advance, to whom you want to say it, and how. Drawing on your expertise from your "day job" is a perfect way to do that in my opinion. It's exactly what I'm trying to do in my work.

    I am not an ecologist, but I rub elbows with ecologists and other natural scientists every day, so I have a decent lay person's understanding of how ecosystems work, and I have access to people who can put me on the right path. I drew on that expertise last summer to create this series "How we see trees". https://www.robdeloephotography.com/...-we-see-trees/ My goal was to make it ecologically literate while saying something about the way people in my community see and interact with Eastern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis). It's definitely meant to be artistic rather than documentary.

  10. #10

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    Re: Musings on landscape photography from a landscape ecologist's point of view

    Thank you for sharing that, and for sharing that outstanding project. Beautiful and thoughtful work. Bookmarked it in my inspirations folder.

    P.S. I love the "Seasons of Ice" series there as well.

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