Take a "side peek" with me! I'd like to invite you to a more conscientized and sideways look at all the different objects, landscapes, weather phenomena and whatsoever is to find in Nature and which people tend to forget about. Surely because of the overhelming distractions there are in modern lives. But isn't Nature actually the true importance? All our sophisticated life has become and is only possible through Nature and its ressources. But it is actually a very touchy and balanced system which now goes out of hand.
I am a Nature-photographer living in Germany. I have a strong interest in Climate Change and Nature Preservation. To me the ruthless and careless dealing with Nature is often unbearable. Through photography I feel I can contribute to waking people up and conscientize them on this vital issue. Besides I can do what I love - being outdoors.
my intention & some thoughts...
Every photographic scene I witness outdoors and pick to capture actually represents one of many individual moments passing by every second in Nature. I choose these scenes to be as pure and undisturbed as possible, focusing only on Nature - nothing else. As if there was no industrialization... even though the location could be right next to a factory-complex. A blooming meadow swaying in the sommer-breeze, animals grazing or hunting, bees gathering nectar, a cool forest spending shade... Whenever you witness moments like that, for that very moment, you are actually witnessing and feeling a fraction of (intact) Nature, no matter how destructive it's surroundings are. But this makes these "pure" scenes so incredibly valueable and increasingly unique. Because they become scarce to non-existing.
I'd like to encourage people not only to appreciate a beautiful photograph of Nature, but to think about what is to come if actually loosing all these "scenes", respectively moments, in real life. Meaning, never again being able to feel these moments having all your senses involved - imagine forinstance you resting on a bench, hearing the leafs rustle in the trees behind you, feeling the cooling breeze on your skin, enjoying the lush green meadow before you and smelling the scent of flowers... unmatched!
Nature is destroyed in many ways. But before we dig any further and because for some people it's probably still one of the most uncertrain issues in this whole Nature-debate, it can't be stressed enough that by now many independend scientists have proven the existence of climate change. And I am talking about the rapid change, which is man-made. That's a fact and there is no deception or fake-news like some few scientists still claim. The corresponding reputable surveys are following the pure rules of physics and statistics. In addition most people with "green jobs" will tell you accordingly from their experience. Climate is changing rapidly and to put it boldly: it is getting warmer with all it's consequences, no matter what! Believing any different is like believing in the earth is flat. And besides, even if there wasn't the climate-problem, there still are tons of other misdemeanors we commit to our environment.
That being said, however, I feel most statements concerning problems with our environment are usually scientifically dry and describe only the "hard facts", like: "if we loose more insects we'll loose more food". That's also true and serious. But don't we loose much more than a meadow, a bee and the food? Loosing Nature also means loosing important experiences, which in turn create important feelings, from joy to a variety of soothing emotions. And we loose the link to Nature, our origin and true source of well-being, so I'm sure. Consequently, from a psychological standpoint, what will the decline of Nature do to our life-balance and psyche? Hence it's also a question of how mankind survives, with which quality, isn't it? Most people maybe don't realize that (intact) Nature made their awesome and relaxing Mountainbike-ride possible and filled their batteries for all of next week's demands. Nature has always been at our service, has always been present.
It's decline may be difficult for people to see because in the past it has been a rather sneaky process, at least in the northern countries. And it swings like a pendulum from extreme back to normal, but picking up speed as we carry on like we have in the past. And it is deceptive, especially in Europe, but more on that later.
I like to compare this process with the sinking of the Titanic. Only from a psycological standpoint, though, if you thought on quitting to read any further at this point. The reason I mention that is because I think the more the press and media describe horror-scenarios the more reluctant people become on the matter and won't do anything, which of course is a fatal error. Well, back to the Titanic: at the time nobody thought it possible for it to sink. The engineers were proud but also mightily conceited. After the collision with the iceberg, for a long time, few people noticed. As they slowly became aware, they didn't want to see the inevitable, they didn't want to hear what's coming. The more water broke into the vessel the faster it sank. The stern, where the last survivors had fled to being the last to go down. It is hard to imagine Nature to be completely destroyed and gone someday with all it's familiar scenes and full lifeliness. But it's sure not impossible and we are closer than most of us think.
We are already surrounded more and more by concrete, metal and plastic - dead materials, by machines and robots. What will this really do with us? What if we were forced to live more and more indoors like in a science-fiction movie, because conditions outside are too harsh? Some may ask: so what? But why do people like to go outdoors for recreation - skiing, swimming, hiking? Why is summer (still) the most popular season during the year, where people relax almost everywhere outside? All of that wouldn't be possible anymore. You could sure do most of it indoors, but it's just different, isn't it? I don't know if some day we are able to simulate nature's characteristics, and, although you exercise indoors it feels like outdoors. It would be interesting to see if it could really give us the same experience... But I prefere the original Nature for now and it can't be our goal to have to simulate it.
Back on our bench conditions have changed: the sun bakes the landscape, the leafs in the trees are limp now, the breeze unbearably hot, the meadow scorched, the flowers gone. Not a very inviting place to be, indeed a hostile place. So we better jump inside (just happened in summer 2018 in parts of Germany...).
Most people need a frequent timeout from this digitalized and timed world. In consequence the constant hassle and crowdedness contributes to tense people up and will not be for the benefit of coexistence around the world. People need recreation, soothing and space for themselves. We need Nature as a basic need. Why not care for something you depend on? Probably because you haven't realized you do.
Now again, many people think this is fictional, apocalyptic and conspirational - I think it's not! People still talk about climate change as if it was a faraway fiction. But most of it is already reality in many parts of the world, catastrophies, drastic changes due to climate have happened and we are already too late to undo most of it. It's a bit different for Central-Europe, (but even southern Europe already experiences severe waether-incidents) it is one of the safest places on earth to live in. It faces the least devastating catastrophies, is wealthy and has some of the most fertile soils - in other words, it's the stern of the ship. But people in these wealthy countries (the ship's engineers) tend to brush facts aside, some deny climate change and what caused it. Just like on the Titanic, people around here again don't want to hear and see. Probably because we haven't really felt it yet, haven't felt how destructive in turn nature can be and how painful this will be. Other regions around the globe have already. And just to mention, many people will seek shelter to where it's not as hard, and this will develop into a serious safety-issue around the world as well.
But frankly, the last generations including ours have to admit they utterly screwed it. We didn't come up early enough with a plan, a plan how we like our planet to look like and how we want to live in future decades, how we could deal smart with our ressources. Any successful business in the economy has a long-term plan. Ok, their motivation is how to make more money. But where is ours? I reckon we all want a liveable planet for all of us. But we are doing the opposite. Instead our consumption still breaks record after record and we use up all our resources without thinking what to do next. How incredibly reckless.
By the way, currently only Morocco and The Gambia act compatible to the Paris agreement of 2015. Just in case you thought Europe was doing it's job. Not only this shows how reluctant our politicians and other responsible persons are with this issue.
Now, the truth is, we still don't have a plan! Why not, for heaven's sake? Some dawdle around, discussing whether it's all that bad or not. Others probably hope somebody (whoever that is) will solve it just in time for them and honestly believe, the evergrowing consumption could go on forever on a planet with limited ressources. And those who have the most power to change things won't, because it is not in their current interest (rather in the contrary). Politicians are afraid of not getting reelected when taking the nessasary actions. They might even be right but then we are in sort of a stalemate and there we go: in consequence and most convenient is the famous "business as usual". But seldom choosing the most convenient path has created something good. Instead we are loosing time every day.
Changes in a better direction would of course mean for the wealthy part of the world to have to cut back on their lifestyle. That is because we squander by far the most of all resources on the planet. But changes don't nessecarially need to be a bad thing... just different. Otherwise Nature will cut it back for us soon and this will have much more inconveniences.
But still, and that's the big difference to the Titanic. The complete sinking probably is, at least for some more time, not ultimately inevitable. Only but importantly quality of life will get worse and worse and efforts to maintain our lifestyle higher and higher. But honestly, shouldn't we also put things on the right track for our children?
And one last thought: Nature has brought up so many ingenious plants and creatures. Animals so smart, some even capable of arranging a hunt together with another species in partnership and much more. Even the most inconspicuous have more awareness than we think and we are hurting all of them with our greed. There is no reason to justify this selfish and extreme behaviour.
In conclusion, I understand my photography as an artistic documentation, utilizing Fineart to capture nature's scenes before they vanish from our planet due to Climate Change and other environmental pollutions. And it's also meant to be a critique of a system that destroys and spoils nature in great scale. I do my best to reach people emotionally and make them contemplate. Since only part of our senses is involved, it is often not easy to convey the spirit and hence the absolute value of these scenes to people only through visual elements. If it works, photography can be so powerful. Everybody has seen pictures or paintings that impressed lastingly. Capturing images just like this is my goal and I strive to reach it.
Photography, it is said, is an art, the art to paint with light. In Nature-photography Nature itself creates the scenes. In broad diversity, changing constantly and often rapidly. But as a photographer, with my camera, I have a broad variety of possibilities to capture and alter the scenes the way I personally perceive them. Besides of course, being patient and persistent.
I am prone to colors, enjoy seeing them mix up, contrast each other or fade into oneanother. I tend to keep many of my photographs a bit on the darker side or at least with some darker areas or shadows. Propably because mysticism always intrigues me. And usually I like quite some overall-contrast along with it - creating pronounced, moody scenes, sometimes adding a slight colorcast to it. In black&white I often tend to use even stronger contrasts. Overall my Nature-photography varies from classic documentary to in some way alienated or abstracted images. Whichever way seems appropriate, but always the goal in mind to transfer the mood of the scene as I perceived it or to convey the esthetic of the subject. Some of my images may appear sombre and don't represent "popular" Nature-photography. But when I am outdoors on a dull winterday and feel dreary I want to convey that very mood. Photographs are about mood and succeed if they evoke the ladder. Of course "nice, bright an positive" sells, but as mentioned before I like to document the feel of Nature in which contrasting conditions are always present and belong together. Hence not only high spirits belong to my images but also sadness or maybe even tristesse in an hopefully esthetic way - just like the seasons in our latitudes have the same.
Still, I like to keep my images genuine and not to "smoothen" them too much. Meaning I mainly use my camera and it's technical options to achieve the images I have in mind. I post-process fairly little, using primarily rather slight contrast-, color- and sharpening-adjustments. I do HDR and Focus-Stacking though. But I restrain from adjustments that completely alter the original state of the images. I also don't add or remove parts of the image except dustspots or very small distractions if inevitable. For me many Fineart-Images tend to be unnaturally sleek like in the fashion or portrait business where everything and everybody is made perfect.
WHAT I AM UP TO (CURRENTLY)...
One of my recent projects is to capture my photographs within or as near as possible to my home country and not travel so much around the world. Germany and Europe is beautiful! Even though it becomes increasingly difficult to go to untouched, remote areas where infrastructure such as roads, poles, powerlines and the like are scarce. Many sights are well known by now and provided with the necessary facilities to cope with the onslaught of so many visitors. This and the like makes capturing unspoiled scenes still containing the spirit mentioned above harder to find. Also Europe mostly doesn't make for these highly spectacular motifs other destinations like for instance America is known for. The challenge to me is to still make an impact on people with less jaw-dropping scenes. Nature (-photography) is not all about specious sites and these epic shots, it is altogether.
I very much appreciate your visit.
And sharing my website whatever way you like is always a great compliment to my work. Thank you!
Your Kai Beuckmann