Archive for September, 2014

“Nature lover” has a whole spectrum of meanings.

Nature has been getting a lot more exposure in Singapore lately – be it through the rise in popularity of nature photography, or the increased awareness of natural spaces, more Singaporeans are getting out there into the wild.

“I love nature” could mean a whole variety of things to different people – for trekkers it could be a peaceful place for walking and reflection, for mountain bikers it could be a challenging terrain, to artists and photographers could be a beautiful subject, to fishermen could be a form of leisure, a source of income or even a way of life, to biologists it holds a sense of wonder and intrinsic value and worth. Just because people love different aspects of nature doesn’t mean anyone loves nature any less or more than anyone else, but it saddens me when individuals enjoy nature without caring for it’s well-being. It is understandable if it happens due to lack of awareness (which just means we need to look at and step up PR efforts), but in some cases it is the blatant intentional ignoring of certain codes of ethics that bugs me. Be it littering, cutting vegetation and clearing of paths that could result in habitat destruction or fragmentation, unethical or environmentally harmful methods in any kind of leisure activity, over-collecting or illegal collection (outright poaching) etc.

I can’t say much for the other activities, but as an amateur photographer of sorts I just feel I should pen down what I feel about nature photography.
What makes nature photography special is the amount of chance involved. Encountering the organism in the right place at the right time, under the right lighting in the right position and if you’re really luck, in the right action. It is a form of documentation, and as far as possible if the animal doesn’t sense you, a documentation of natural behaviour in a natural environment. Most importantly, it is the documentation of a personal encounter between two lives in a vast and infinite universe. And that is why I feel that by staging photos either by baiting, augmentation of the environment or outright controlling the position of the animal directly, the shot is completely cheapened. Even worse, if the photographer subsequently lies about the circumstances under which the photo was taken, it shows a blatant lack of integrity, and acknowledgement of the fact that he/she is aware that the methods involved are wrong. It irks me when photographers treat organisms with total lack of respect, as a prize that exists solely for the purpose of glorifying themselves by helping produce a “wonderful” image.

In any case, nature photography is special because of the chance involved, and by taking away that factor of chance at the expense of the welfare of the organism/environment completely cheapens the shot and what it stands for. Photography, I feel, should embody one’s appreciation of the subject and it’s existence, as well as the memory of the encounter. And even if you don’t get that perfect shot, it shouldn’t take any value away from the encounter – if anything a great shot is just a bonus result of a wonderful experience.

/incoherent rant over