Nature Photography

Short-eared Owl in flight - a classic record shot


I have often wondered why nature photography is not given due regard by art critics. It seems to be barely regarded as a medium worthy of consideration. In the introduction to his book “Wildlife Photographer”, Chris Gomersall writes …

“Traditionally, the critics have not been well disposed towards the genre of wildlife photography, frequently dismissing it as sentimentalist or nostalgia driven. The art establishment seems to be only interested in the metropolitan, and on the rare occasions it has turned its attention to the photography of animals it has been restricted to the zoo animals and domestic pets … ”

However, Gomersall also points out that as a nature photographer “we”re only just catching up with most other fields of photography in learning how to express ourselves” since previously, the centre of interest was subject matter and from where it came and the message behind the picture.

In his book “The Photographer’s Vision” Michael Freeman does give due consideration to wildlife as a “tighter genre” which he describes as demanding “specialised techniques, the knowledge of a zoologist, heavy logistics and a full time commitment”. Sub-genres of wildlife photography can be even more demanding especially in terms of equipment and as a result are not easily open to the outsider. Nature photography has improved greatly in terms of both technique and creativity yet retains “very specialised standards”. Freeman goes on to explain why the art establishment do not respond to nature photography …
“There is not much room for concept, and even less for the kind of interpretation that curators and critics love” yet continues by saying ” … a profound understanding of the subject and a sensitive eye for imagery definitely have their place”.

Technology has an increased importance in wildlife photography and has played an important part in the development of the genre in recent years as the advent of digital has made many subjects more accessible. Alongside this development, wildlife has become an increasingly important issue in everyday life owing to conservation being a political consideration.

A little more from Gomersall who writes that “sensitive consideration and application of light and colour can transform our photographs from the ordinary to the extraordinary; used sympathetically, it can evoke a mood or trigger an emotion that geometric design alone can’t convey”. In brief, its’ not just about making that record shot, something else needs to come into play.

Short-eared Owl in flight - more aesthetic than scientific record

All photographs copyright 2012 Amano Samarpan (www.amanosamarpan.com)

BIBLIOGRAPHY

The Photographer’s Vision by Michael Freeman

Wildlife Photographer by Chris Gomersall

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One thought on “Nature Photography

  1. This is a timely piece from you Amano. I have been drawn to nature photography for many years but recently and since spending 2 years with the OCA Landscape course have found myself not writing about it in my blog or on the forum, as it didn’t seem to have the right connotations around art. This has led me to think about selling my 600mm f4 lens, which as you know are gorgeous pieces of kit and a huge investment. This evening I have cleaned it and found all the bits that go with it and now I am having second thoughts. The money was going towards an M9 (have the M8 which will go too) which allows me more opportunities for art type photography. I think I will come back to it but maybe with a lighter 500mm (the 600 is over 12 lbs). Your owl shot at the top is gorgeous and I am sure would have appealed to the likes of Weston who loved form and natural shape.

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