Amongst the many artists whose work we showcase at Rise Art are a great number of nature photographers. For stunning, cool-toned landscape shots, take a look at the work of Nick Miners – a freelance photographer with a fascination for Iceland. He travels to the country often in pursuit of the elusive perfect photograph. He knows that this likely doesn’t exist, but we think his images come close.
British photographer Eleanor Cunningham is another nature photographer whose landscape shots are not to be missed. Cunnigham’s aim in her work is to depict the decay of monumental spaces and historical sites, and she does this by manipulating the various materials and processes involved in the dark room. The result is so striking that once one of her images has caught your eye, you will find it difficult to look away.
Finally, don’t miss the stunningly melancholic images of American photographer Geoffrey Ansel Agrons. He described his central focus as ‘the uneasy coexistence of humans and the natural world’ and when you look at his haunting photographs, this feeling of unease is more than evident. His black and white photographs are captivating and eerily beautiful and a must-see in our catalogue of Nature Photography.
Since photography has been around for less than 200 years, nature photography is considered a relatively new art form. That is not to say, however, that it is a limited one. In fact, the term encompasses a wide variety of subcategories which vary both by subject and by format. For instance, Wildlife Photography, Landscape Photography, Botanical Photography and Macro Photography are all photographic genres in their own right which fall under the Nature Photography umbrella and which can all be explored here at Rise.
Louis Daguerre, who invented one of the earliest forms of photography in 1839, described the daguerreotype as, “an instrument which serves to draw nature”, and the photography of ‘nature’ became immensely popular during the Victorian era. However, since the technology was so primitive and unsophisticated at this time, exposure times were several minutes long and it was therefore impossible to capture images of moving elements.
For this reason, many photographs were staged. To capture an image of a live, wild animal would not be possible. Attempts were therefore made to capture nature compositions with a dead and preserved animal as a substitute. John Dillwyn Llewelyn, for instance, used the body of a deer which had been preserved by taxidermy as the subject of one of his first nature shots. Unfortunately, the taxidermy job was viewed as ‘botched’ and made for an overall unnatural image - nevertheless these attempts helped to kindle an interest in what we now know as Nature Photography.
Half a century on, George Shiras III took advantage of technological advances in photography and became the first person to practice wildlife photography at night. Several of his photos were published in the National Geographic and he went on to become one of its board members. The publication is of course now renowned for its nature photographs.
With the leaps and bounds that have been made in photographic technology since then, there is immensely more freedom in the art of Nature Photography today. No longer confined to taking only images which could be captured over a long period of time, but rather having the ability to snap images in extremely rapid speeds, action shots have become an integral part of the Nature Photography genre – with images of animals eating, fighting and in flight playing a pivotal role.
Furthermore, advances in technology have allowed for the development of macro photography – extreme close-up shots of which the subjects in Nature Photography are often small creatures such as insects. Photographers often also focus these images upon textural subjects such as the bark of trees, the tiny pores in the skin of a mushroom and the drops of morning dew on blades of green grass.
In addition to this, the use of colour in Nature Photography shots plays a vital role and black and white photography in this context can be considered a subcategory of its own – a subcategory for which photographer Ansel Easton Adams is celebrated.
Adams was a landscape photographer and environmentalist who was well known for his black and white images of the American West. He was deeply concerned with the natural world and as well as his dedicated environmental activism whereby he encouraged people to take care of their planet, he was greatly interested in making it the subject of his photographic work. He opted for the use of black and white in much of his photography and thus captured the American West in a strikingly dramatic fashion.
However, the emphasis, rather than subtraction, of colour is equally important for other photographers of the genre, and Eliot Furness Porter is one photographer known for their colour photographs. Hailing also from America, Porter is another photographer whose nature photographs are widely celebrated. His photographic practice began during his childhood and he found inspiration on Maine's Great Spruce Head Island which was owned by his family, where he spent time photographing the island’s birds.