While up in Oregon earlier this month we did a couple of day trips, one of which was a drive out of Eugene up along the Willamette River up to its headwaters that included a stop of Clear Lake. OhMyGoodness, this lake was really fitting of its name; depths of 50 or 60 feet with water that is absolutely clear. Amazing and of course a place I would like to return to again.
Which takes me to the title of this article; Is this photograph really just another illusionary landscape of ‘nature’? Which were some of my thoughts while I stood on the boat dock across from the opposite shore line creating this landscape photograph. Or is is this really a ‘rural’ landscape photograph, even if there is no evidence of the mankind within the photograph? While framing this landscape, directly in front of me was a family getting situated in their rowboat getting ready to head out to the open waters of the lake. Directly behind me was the Park station for the lake where we just purchased some bottled water and a few snacks. How often are ‘nature’ photographs made after parking a car/truck at a trailhead and only needing to venture a few steps away to make a grand landscape photograph? Perhaps aided by a huge sign declaring that this is a ‘view point’?
Second, this photograph image has been ‘manipulated’ in Photoshop as part of a post-image processing step. The ‘truthfulness’ of this being unadulterated and raw nature is further complicated by my cloning out some distracting highlights within the trees. One more step away from being a documentary photograph towards an interpretive and illusionary landscape. The cloning did in turn reduce the visual tension as a viewer’s eyes are always distracted by highlights, our (American at least) vision is drawn to these elements, sometimes no matter how small.
I guess that this is all a bit of a rhetorical discussion, since this resulting photograph could also be considered a portrait of the Clear Lake shoreline that provides a zen-like mediative moment for a viewer. So at times I struggle as to how to categorize this and similar landscape photographs when I know that I am standing on a paved road or well worn trail and that I have only slightly shifted by vantage point to eliminate the human elements. Yes, an illusion of untouched ‘nature’, as I am becoming more aware that at least within the United States, there are very few untouched (and unphotographed) nature locations. I think that this is in part one of the reasons I drifted away from calling myself a Nature Photographer so many, many years ago.
I guess I just had not thought about this for some time and this colorful shoreline was a bit of an emotional trigger for me. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy this photograph as it provides some really nice memories of this little holiday drive up into the mountains, as well as it is visually compelling shoreline portrait. And I just printed this photograph, which looks wonderful at 24″ x 36″, perhaps heading to a frame shop very soon. Nice. (Edition of 5 + 1 A/P at that size, just saying… so email me if you are interested)
Just don’t call this a ‘nature photograph’.
I will be leading a Creative Photo Book workshop with the Southeast Center of Photography (SEC4P), a virtual event on Zoom; November 6 & 7th and 13 & 14th, 2021, 10 AM – 1 PM, EST (3 hour session each day, with a week between the weekend sessions to work your book-dummy). Registration is now open, and there is a SEC4P membership discount. It is SOLD OUT & wait-list has been started.
New dates for another SEC4P Creative PhotoBook workshop just announced (and already almost sold out), a virtual event on Zoom; January 22 & 23 and 29 & 30, 2022, 10 AM – 1 PM, EST (3 hour session each day, with a week between the weekend sessions to work your book-dummy). The SEC4P membership discount is also available.
Developing a Creative Photo Book, a virtual (Zoom) workshop I will be leading again in conjunction with Medium Photo with New dates: March 5 – 6, 12 – 13, 2022 More details and sign-up available now at Medium Photo.