Sunday, October 18, 2009

Naturalist Photography Offers A Different Look

Naturalist photography looks at natural history through the camera lens. The subjects of naturalist photography include, but are not limited to botany, zoology, geology, anthropology and archeology. Ultimately, what sets naturalist photography apart from other areas is the lack or diminishment of a human element cluttering the picture.

The composition of naturalist photography should focus on presenting the facts or at least the honesty of the scene depicted. For example, a photograph of the Grand Canyon, majestic and solitary does not need to be touched up with a brush nor require a person standing in the picture to capture the image. The art of this form is not found in documenting people, but rather documenting nature.

The popularity of naturalist photography can be found in museums, calendars, magazines, framed prints and coffee table books. As with still-life studies in painting classes, these photographs should focus on the elements honestly present. Taking pictures of plant life, animals or entire areas are both documenting their existence and allow others to be educated. Whether in a textbook, a gallery's show or offered as prints for purchase at novelty stores, the appeal of these photographs varies from person to person. A sunset for one, a raccoon for another and a lightening strike for still another.

It is unlikely that a large number of people have been up close and personal with a lion, but naturalist photography not only captures these close-up images, but also longer shots that capture them in their native environments outside of the zoo. Photographers engaged in this occupation whether as a career or a hobby, respect the very nature they catalog with their cameras. Some photographers are known to sit for hours waiting for the 'perfect' shot.

As urban sprawl continues to creep into areas once considered 'country,' naturalist photography spreads a very important message. A vital reminder of the power and majesty that required no human intervention to create, but will likely need to preserve. This preservation of nature is a part of the foundation behind naturalist photography. Whether scenes of destruction as a volcano erupts, the damage to a beach that a hurricane left behind or the beauty of a robin's egg being hatched, naturalist photography offers a different look at the world everyone occupies, but sometimes does not see.