Thursday, February 4, 2010

Nature Photography Through the Ages

The National Park System was prompted by -- and has since prompted -- the artistic vision of nature photographers. These photos of Oregon's Crater Lake National Park were shot by Duke Gardens' Alice Le Duc.

Duke Gardens work-study student Lauren Sims spoke with Jennifer Weinberg, owner of Jennifer Weinberg Photography, about what students can expect from her upcoming “History of Nature Photography” workshop.

The class will run Feb. 9, 16 and 23 from 7 to 9 p.m. In it, Weinberg will review the work of 10 of nature photography’s biggest names.

“I’m of the belief that by studying other artists’ work, you can learn so much about your own style, about different techniques, what you like and what you don’t like,” she says. Beyond technique itself, students will have a chance to see the impact that artists such as Ansel Adams have had on the American environmental and political climate.

“A lot of people don’t know that his career actually started because he was photographing the West in an effort to attract people to take the railroads out west,” she says. “… He wasn’t going out taking pretty pictures, he was trying to sell a product.”

Adams’ and others’ photographs helped lead to the establishment of the United States’ National Park System. (Here's one example)

So what makes for a good photograph, anyway? As Weinberg sees it, a perfect combination of technique and creativity.
A technical understanding, including composition and color, is important, but there are times when discarding the rules can be more effective than holding to them. The art of photography is about “learning the technique and then learning … how you can break the rules in order to start creating pictures instead of just taking pictures.”

The class is $75; $60 for Friends of Duke Gardens. Call 668-1707 or e-mail for more information.

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