Gallery of Fine Art Photography - Atlanta GA

Peter Essick – Comments On His Photography

Peter Essick – Comments On His Photography

Peter Essick was listed as one of the 40 Most Influential Nature Photographers by Outdoor Photography Magazine (2010). They sited his work for National Geographic Magazine documenting the effects of global warming, placing him twelfth on this list of notable photographers worldwide.

Below are comments by Peter Essick that reveal interesting information on 21 of the images from his exhibition: Compositions in Nature.

Tracy Arm, Alaska, 1996

Oulanka National Park, Finland, 2009

White Rock Mountain, Arkansas, 2008

Juniper Prairie Wilderness, Florida, 1998

This wilderness area north of Orlando is one of the few subtropical rain forests in the United States. To enter the wilderness, I rented a canoe and floated down a spring-fed creek. In the afternoon a heavy downpour occurred as I was taking this photograph. The next day I read that it had rained almost five inches the day before.

Altamaha River, Georgia, 1998

The Altamaha in southern Georgia has many unspoiled areas. The old-growth trees were logged in the 1800s, but the Nature Conservancy is now working to preserve many of the remaining forests near the river. This photograph was taken in May when there was some early morning mist. I’m told that if there is a 15 degree F difference between the air and water temperature then the mist occurs.

Pam’s Grotto, Arkanas, 2008

This spot in northern Arkansas is near the Ozarks Highlands Trail. Tim Ernest, who built the trail along with some other volunteers, met his wife Pam at this grotto and named it for her. There is a large overhang to the cliff so it is easy to walk under the waterfall and look out. At sunrise, there is still enough latitude in the digital sensor to capture both the sunlight on the trees and the shadow of the large rock, something not possible with film.

Spirits Creek, Ozark Highlands Trail, Arkansas, 2008

This special place is on the Ozark Highlands Trail. There is a nice camping spot for backpackers nearby. After setting up camp I walked down to the small creek. It was cloudy, but right at sunset a small beam of light shot through the trees on the other side of the creek and lit up the water with a golden glow for a few moments.

Wathumba Creek Estuary, Fraser Island, Australia, 2009

Fraser Island off the coast of Queensland is the world’s largest sand island. Along the western shore, the ocean water is very clear blue-green. Wathumba Creek is brown with tannins from the forest in the interior of the island. This aerial photograph was taken at almost low tide. At high tide the creek water backs up and leaves the marks of organic material in the sand.

Deer Creek, Arizona, 1997

On a 17-day trip through the Grand Canyon in a wooden dory I climbed up many of the side canyons. Deer Creek was my favorite because the light and dark effects on the narrow walls.

Sea Ice, Tierra del Fuego, Chile, 2009

A friend of mine who is a National Geographic Photographer was working on a story about the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. He had booked a 10-day trip on a yacht to visit the Beagle Channel where Darwin had visited on his famous voyage. At the last minute, his wife got sick and I filled in for him. This photograph is taken in a very remote area called Seno Pia. In the winter the sea freezes and then breaks up every day with the tide. These sea ice fragments are left in the grass in the high tide zone.

Sturgeon River Gorge, Michigan, 1998

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan or U.P is one of the most unique places in the US. Not only are there superb natural areas like the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness, the whole region is refreshingly unspoiled. It is one of the few places in the US where I didn’t see any fast food places or strip malls when I was there in 1998. I wonder if that is still the case?

Tasermiut Fiord, Greenland, 2010

South Greenland holds tremendous potential for tourism and no place is more scenic than the Tasermuit Fiord. The granite walls are over 3,00 feet high and in several places plunge right into the ocean. However, the logistics to get there are difficult. Last June I had to first fly from the capital Nuuk to Qaqortoq in a prop plane and then take a helicopter further south to Nanortalik. In this small village I hired a local Inuit man to take me up to a campsite up in the fiord. Behind his small motorboat we towed an inflatable boat. After setting up camp, I looked around by myself in the Zodiac boat to find a good location to photograph when the weather was clear. I waited several days for a good sunset, but it never cleared up. I had to come back two months later and eventually got the photograph. The stream in the foreground is freshwater flowing into the ocean in the background.

Sanibel Island, Florida, 2004

I was working on a story about the carbon cycle and I read that small animals use calcium carbonate in the ocean to form shells. The perfect place to see shells on the beach was a Sanibel Island in Florida. Every time there is a storm the beach fills up with shells. I used an underwater housing to get close to the wave and the shells while protecting my camera from the salt water.

Jyrava Falls, Oulanka National Park, Finland, 2009

I arrived at this spot one afternoon and noticed the small icebergs in an eddy of the Kitka River. As I watched it looked like the icebergs were moving in a perfect circle. I came back the next morning and in a 30 second time exposure the circle was revealed in the streaks of the ice.

The Quelccaya Ice Cap, Peru, 2004

Lonnie Thompson, a famous climatologist from Ohio, has studied this ice cap for over 25 years. In that time the ice cap has retreated and shrunk like almost all tropical glaciers around the world. The lake in the foreground first appeared in 1991. The next day after taking this photo I climbed to the top of the ice cap at 18, 600 ft., the highest altitude that I have ever climbed.

Boreal Fen, Finland, 2009

These low-lying swampy areas in the northern Boreal Forest were made glaciers during the last ice age. In the 9,000 years since it has been ice-free, some of the drier areas have built up peat ridges. From the air, it is possible to see them and figure the direction of the glacier’s advance and retreat.

Rainbow Lake Wilderness, Wisconsin, 1998

This photograph has always reminded me of the randomness of nature. Leaves must fall every year on these lily pads in a small pond in Wisconsin. The placement is probably similar each year, but not exactly the same. As photographers we come by and make what we think is an orderly composition, usually based on an aesthetic that surely was first influenced by the laws of nature itself.

Oulanka River, Finland, 2009

In this shallow dolomite gorge the sunrise light is quite remarkable. The sunlight first hits the pine trees and then the opposite canyon wall. Because the canyon is narrow, the wall acts like a giant reflector card and fills the shadows with a beautiful luminance.

Sinkhole, Near Bowling Green, Kentucky, 1996

One of my first environmental stories I worked on was about non-point source water pollution. I didn’t realize until I started photographing the story how non-visual this problem was. However, I tried to take this as a challenge and do a story that hadn’t been done before. Sinkholes like these in Kentucky act as avenues for pollution to enter the groundwater. Usually these pollutants are invisible, but when I saw these cows wading right in a sinkhole I knew I had found a familiar and visible culprit.

Oil Sands Tailings, Alberta, Canada, 2009

The oil sands development in northern Alberta is recovering oil in a manner more like a mine than a traditional oil well. The oil sand has to be mixed with water and boiled so the bitumen will rise to the top. The wastewater is then sent to large tailings ponds that create something that looks like a delta as the toxic water enters the huge pond.

Falcon, Oil Sands Tailing Ponds, Alberta Canada, 2009

There was a highly publicized event in 2008 when about 500 migrating ducks landed in an oil sands tailings pond and drowned. In order to try and prevent future occurrences this oil company installed an effigy of a peregrine falcon in a platform on the pond. A laser beam determines if birds are approaching which activates a solar powered recording of the falcon’s call and hopefully scares away the migrating birds.

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10 months ago

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10 months ago

Celebrating the work of Robert Glenn Ketchum on his 75th birthday. Ketchum's imagery and books have helped to define contemporary color photography while at the same time addressing critical national environmental issues. This has made him one of the most successful artist/activists in American history. His work in Alaska illustrate this point, first in the Tongass Rain Forest, where his images were credited with helping to pass the Tongass Timber Reform Bill of 1990. One of his current efforts is in Southwest Alaska, aimed to protect the largest wild salmon habitats from the ill-advised Pebble Mine. Wishing you many more years to continue your work!!

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10 months ago

Sharing some beautiful Georgia landscapes by Diane Kirkland on this pretty fall day. #lumieregallery #dianekirkland ... See MoreSee Less

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