Edward Burtynsky - Watermark

I've just finished watching Edward Burtynsky's movie 'Watermark' which came out in 2013. So it's not a new release by any stretch of the imagination, but it's new to me :-)

For those of you who have never heard of Burtynsky, he is a photographic documenter of the large-scale environmental impact that us humans are having on our world. His images are startling documents of environmental scale and very much worth checking out by buying some of his beautifully printed monographs.

I'm keen on many avenues of photography, not just 'landscape', but also reportage and documentary style work. Edward Burtynsky has the uncanny knack of creating amazing landscape work which is art in its own right, but is very much geared towards the environment and letting us into a few secrets of just how large scale we are modifying our world. Scale is the word that keeps coming to mind.

This documentary is beautifully filmed and it left me with a new appreciation of water. Just how vital it is to our survival but also just how much it is being manipulated and redirected. Creating dams in California has had disastrous consequences for the areas where the water was diverted from. Looking at modern china, we are able to see the massive scale of dam creation and how much this is changing our landscape. 

His documentary is really a lament to the natural world. This documentary really shows just how much we are shaping and re-creating our world. It is only the beginning, and indicator of the things to come. Nature has it's own processes and its own way of working. Each time we influence it, we may benefit in some ways but we lose in others through a lack of deeper understanding of just how much it is going to cost in the future. But most of all, this documentary shows that we have no handle, no overseeing jurisdiction on how much our world should be reshaped. We just go about our business each day hoping that someone else is looking after our world for us, but through the scale of Edward's photographs, I no longer feel comfortable with the mass adaption of our land.

Baffin Island

A few days ago, a friend of mine showed me this video. [vimeo 33516816]

What a spectacular place Baffin Island is. Remote, wild, I'd love to traverse the frozen sea just like these guys have done. It reminds me so much of my time on the southern patagonian ice field.

But I'm also struck by the high production values that go in to making a movie like this.

Iceland Video Snippets

Tonight I've just downloaded some short videos I made on my phone whilst in Iceland last summer and this winter.  I thought I would share them with you, because they give a real insight to some of the places I get to see on my travels. Yes, I think photography should be able to convey that, but video has a certain 'being there' presence that allows us to see what others saw.

Dynjandi Waterfall, West Fjords, Iceland from Bruce Percy on Vimeo.

The first video, is of Dynjandi waterfall, which is situated in the west fjords of the country. It's quite a trek to get there, and I must tell you that when I did finally arrive - on a Wednesday afternoon, my bus driver politely told me he'd be back on Saturday to pick me up - as there is only 2 busses a week here. So began my first venture into hitching a lift anywhere - with soul destroying results. After 2 days camped at the falls, I decided that I needed to get to Eastfjorder. Anyway, I've decided to show you a photo that I made of the falls during the late evening, on one of my many walks up to the base of it. I use the photo to give contrast / context to the actual video. In the video you can see my Mamiya 7 on my Gitzo tripod. The light wasn't particularly great, so I was just happy to make some little video diaries of the falls.

And here are some images I shot whilst there:

And lastly, here's a little video showing the wintry conditions we experienced in January, whilst shooting the south coast of Iceland. I only wish I'd been able to capture the bleakness of the conditions I saw on our way from Reykjavik towards the south coast. It was quite fascinating watching the snow burl across the road the way it did - it was quite mesmerising!

Winter conditions, south Iceland, January from Bruce Percy on Vimeo.