large format, nature, trees

Photographing during Covid 2021

December 31, 2021

All of the above meant that I wasn’t tuned into doing large format photography in 2021. I wasn’t walking around explicitly scoping for possible photo sessions with a digital camera, nor was I motivated to travel around the Fleurieu Peninsula in the car looking for possible subject matter.

This is another example of the local roadside photography using the Cambo 5×7 monorail: it was early morning in the autumn of 2021 before the rains came. The country was very dry.

Baum Rd, Waitpinga

These remnants of the local bush along the dusty roadside are all that is easily accessible — apart from the small conservation parks scattered around the southern part of the Fleurieu Peninsula. Other pockets of bushland are on private property and so inaccessible. Most of the land on the Fleurieu Peninsula is farm land — grazing and cropping –and so land shaped to be a resource and used year after year. The biodiversity in this kind of landscape is limited and devalued. Reason in the form of economics rules.

tree, Baum Rd, Waitpinga

It was only during the holiday break between Xmas and New Year that I started thinking in terms of working with large format photography. I started to walk along the kangaroo trails and photograph the local bushland in Waitpinga in the early morning between 6-8 am. These sessions started as a way for me to relax from the long grind of writing the text for the Bowden Archives and Industrial Modernity, and I found them to be even more therapeutic than allowing myself to fall asleep whilst reading a book on the couch.

The photos were nothing fancy: simple representations of the fragments of a damaged or degraded nature: branches, logs on the ground and the lower sections of tree trunks. The emphasis was on light, colour and texture in a photographic approach that was about finding, observing and depicting that is premised on walking around and looking at things. They were simple representations because a narrative had not been invented.

grass tree, Waitpinga

If there was a background narrative it would be one of the domination of nature by a human-centred economic reason premised on the human/nature dualism that has lost track of ourselves as ecologically constrained beings. Dualism and these relations of power are inscribed into our systems of thought, they frame the way we see nature, and are a prime cause of the process of extinction and associated eco-harms. Ecological denial, which refuses to admit the reality and seriousness of the ecological crisis, is one of the consequences.

We then sort of cherish nature as this place apart from modern urban life with its consumption-based economy:–we see nature as a more genuine, alive world that starkly contrasts with the degraded urban world where most of us live. On the other hand, nature is conceived instrumentally as resources for the need, pleasure or spiritual uplift of a privileged group of humans. This fails to appreciate the fact that the natural world sustains us, and that our flourishing depends upon its flourishing. What is missing is the ecological knowledge and memory to help us recognise how nature supports our lives.

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