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Posts tagged ‘photography’

Fingers of Ice

2012.04.30   |   by   |   , ,

Have you ever heard of a brinicle?

Yeah, neither had I. At least not until I stumbled across this headline: Nature’s ‘icy finger of death’ captured on tape for first time. I was doubly intrigued as I am always interested in these kinds of firsts plus I had images of snow tornadoes ravaging the countryside dancing through my head. The article is accompanied by this video clip.

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Dude, Where’s the Snow?

2011.12.11   |   by   |   , ,

Images taken in 1992 and 2005 to document the loss of snow occurring on Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.

After watching the trailer in the post, “A new energy. A new direction. A new balance. This is only the beginning,” I began to think about the news stories I have read over the years about snowcaps on mountains melting and water levels rising. We have also talked about it in several of my classes. This is not only a loss of recreational area of skiers but also affects habitats for animals and the livelihoods of cities surrounding these mountains. Of course this issue can be taught verbally, but by using media the message gets across much more effectively and the urgency is conveyed. It’s one thing to say all the snow is gone, it’s another thing to see that all the snow is gone.

  •             In 2008, the Austrian Alps were said to have “vanished.” One article interviewed Gunther Heissel. “The glaciers on the Alpine mountains flow 20 centimeters a day due to the melting of permafrost,” Heissel told IPS. “The pace of the melting is believed to be at least partly a consequence of global warming”. All over the world global warming is causing the snow on tops of mountains to melt and using media, such as pictures and videos from before the snow started melting to today, it is being caught on camera.
  •             One well-known example is Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. According to US News the, “ice loss is proceeding apace on the African peak: More than a quarter of the ice cover present in the year 2000 had disappeared by late 2007”. The article goes on to say further that this loss of ice on the mountain could affect future patterns of precipitation on the mountain. This would affect the animals and people that rely on the rivers running down the mountain and plants that grow there.
  •             More recently in Bangladesh, they are feeling pressures of water all around them. Between the melting of the polar ice caps raising the sea levels and the mountaintops melting, water is constantly rising around them. With a current population of 112 million, where will all those people go once the country is most submerged?

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Photography that Makes a Difference

2011.11.13   |   by   |   , , ,


“A dramatic image can change our perception and alter our understanding of a subject”…at least that’s the driving thought process behind the Blue Earth Alliance  project. This site attempts to create public awareness about various global issues through photographic storytelling and includes images and blog posts covering important topics such as:
A woman carrying bundles on her back and head passes young men standing along the road in Bukavu, Congo. In Congolese culture, women appear to do everything: work the fields, gather the firewood, keep the home, raise the children and cook the meals. The majority of rural husbands seem to do relatively little. Nevertheless, without men's support and respect, experts warn, the cycle of violence and abandonment will never be broken. From Mary F. Calvert's "Scarred For Life: PTSD In Rwanda"

  • endangered cultures
  • conservation
  • threatened environments
  • other social concerns

What I find particularly interesting about this site is the wide range of  issues covered. Digging through the archives of the site, you can find images and articles on subjects such as Inca plants to disappearing cultures, and from the Israel and Palestine conflict to climate change in Glacier National Park (pictured below). Just one of the stories featured discusses and displays recent work of Amazon Rain forest inhabitants with the Amazon Headwaters. The photographer attempts to find a  particular focus on the women and children’s role  in this preservation effort. There are many images that display different aspects of the work and represent them in interesting angles and approaches. The various photographers on the other issues also do a great job representing an impressive variety of images on the topics they are approaching. Overall, I really enjoy the different angles they bring to the subjects.

Volunteer glacier monitors in Iceland. From Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele's "Facing Climate Change: Illustrating Global Change through Local People"

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Breaking Through the Fog

2011.11.06   |   by   |   , , , ,

The World Wildlife Fund for Nature is an international NGO that tackles issues such as conservation of biomes and restoration of the environment.They work in over 100 countries and support over 1,300 environmental projects. Their mission is to “halt and reverse the destruction of our environment”. They have the hope that they can build a future where humans can live in harmony with nature, a hope that I share. This group caught my eye when I came across one of their advertising campaigns. Most of their campaigns are centered around using the shock value of an image to get their message across, and an important message is is: acting fast for the world before it is too late. With the overload of media that each of us face daily, it takes something out of the ordinary to get our attention. That is exactly what these creative advertisements do, they break through the fog of the daily media overload to catch our eye. There are over a 100 of these advertisements which are used globally to raise awareness about:

There is a great variety of images with completely different themes allowing them to apply to a broad audience. A comprehensive list of over 100 such WWF advertisements can be found here. Most of these images are breathtaking and convey a message one would be hard pressed to put into words. Even more inspiring about these images is their wide appeal; they can be understood in any language and at any age. The only criticism I have to offer is that they aren’t more commonly displayed; such motivational images should be shared with everyone.

The Blur of the Open Road

2011.10.31   |   by   |   ,

When photographer Ellen Jantzen decided to embark on a six thousand mile road trip with her husband from Missouri to California and back, she realized that the American road trip had become a cliché. She was tired of the old-fashioned “Route 66” images of abandoned towns and urban sprawl and wanted to put a new spin on road trip documentation. Her chosen method was to take a regular point-and-shoot camera and take pictures out of the passenger window as her husband drove. What she got was a series of interesting blurs and color-scapes which depict the land in a very fresh and unique way. Her message is simple: she wishes to show that although interstate travel can seem cold and lifeless, it allows us to experience the open landscape of the West like nothing else. She also seeks to show that this openness still exists in abundance.

I found her method to be somewhat effective for the message she is trying to pass along, as they do, indeed, elicit a sense of openness and freedom, as well as motion and change. However, some of the photographs seem almost unreal, like computer generated images. The colors and dimensions seem flat, which works against her message, removing what is natural from nature. In that respect, I think she fell short of her vision.

Art Outside the Museum

2011.10.09   |   by   |   , ,

Movement, change, light growth and decay are the life blood of nature, the energies that I try to tap through my work

– Andy Goldsworthy

Rowan leaves

A British sculptor who uses only natural materials and spaces to create his works, Andy Goldsworthy has been known to use media such as leaves, sticks, ice, mud, and even his own saliva to create his “site-specific sculpture” or “land art.”  Because his work is created outside and subject to natural processes such as winds and the tide, Goldsworthy’s pieces are often impermanent, lasting only a few hours or even a few moments as delicate ice sculptures melt in the sun and wooden structures are carried away by the sea.  Although Goldsworthy uses photography to capture his work when it is, as he describes it, at “its height, marking the moment when the work is most alive,” I am fascinated by the transitory nature of Goldsworthy’s physical pieces.  While many sculptors seem interested in making a mark on the landscape – something that will stand the test of time such as the Picasso sculpture in downtown Chicago – Goldsworthy is more interested in exploring the natural processes of change and decay, and stated on his website “these things are all part of the transient process that I cannot understand unless my touch is also transient.” Goldsworthy’s work is a stirring demonstration of the perspective that people and their work are a part of nature, governed by the same cycles and processes that define the natural world.
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Capturing How We’ve Ruined the World

2011.10.09   |   by   |   , ,

The Art + Environment Conference, a three day art affair concerning human interactions with the environment, took place at the Nevada Museum of Art from September 29th to October 1st. Put on by the museum’s Center for Art + Environment, the conference includes keynote presentations and sessions by a diverse group of artists, scholars, and writers. This is the second conference put on by the center, the first of which took place in 2008. This year’s main exhibition is titled: The Altered Landscape: Photographs of a Changing Environment, which includes over 150 photographs from over 100 artists, and runs until January 8th. The photos symbolize “anthropocene”, a term scientists use to describe the era we live in today, where humans have an enormous impact on the environment. Basically, the photos all show ways that we’ve ruined our earth, and the artwork is very honest and effective in spreading its message.


Burning Oil Sludge

  • One of the most striking photos to me was Robert Adam’s Burning Oil Sludge, taken in Boulder County, Colorado in 1974. I love that the photo is so simple, yet shows something so terrible and destructive through the black and white contrast.
  • In other photos, the environment seems to be missing, such as Fadra Chang’s End of Horizons. Coming from a suburb myself, it strikes me how strange it is to live in a land without trees.

Watch the 2011 Speakers and Program Announcement and check out this gallery from the Center for Art + Environment.  A book of all of the photographs in this year’s Altered Landscapes exhibition is also available through Amazon.

The Midway Bird Diet

2011.09.22   |   by   |   , ,

Midway Island and Midway Islands ( the Midway) are located off the northwestern corner of the Hawaiian Island chain. Due to the currents of the Pacific Ocean and its location in relation to Hawaii, there is lots of trash that finds its way on to the Midway. In addition to the trash that finds its way there, lots of birds do as well. Midway is an atoll

This is one of many photos taken by Jordan. Do I see a lighter?!

island, which is a ring shaped island made up of marsh and beaches. This area is a perfect place for nearly three million species of birds to stop and nest while in flight over the Pacific. The big problem is that trash and birds to not mix.

Photographer Chris Jordan visited the Midway to find an appalling sight.  Birds are dying prematurely because they are eating so much of the trash since they cannot tell the difference. The trash, often times plastic items, are getting lodged in their throat or stomach and they cannot digest them resulting in death. Jordan’s images while blunt are a very real example of what pollution does do to our wildlife.

These images are powerful because the items that are seen in the birds decomposing stomachs are recognizable. To me, the message hits home more since these are objects of our everyday lives that are killing birds; it is our littering that is causing this suffering and premature death. In a CNN article, biologist estimate some of the birds to be not even 5 months old that are dying to do attempting to eat bottle caps and similar items. It is a great example of environmental media because it grabs the viewers attention and in return makes them pay attention to how they act as a global citizen.

Today on Midway, instead of being home to a U.S. Navy base, there is a U.S. Wildlife Refuge where they are studying and protecting birds, especially the albatrosses. There are efforts in process to get the birds back to their regular diet and prevent more of the pictures like Jordan’s from having to be taken.