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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Masters Of The European Landscape

On photography, wilderness and the differences between continents

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Winter sunrise, the Highlands, Scotland. This is the view from a place called Old Man of Storr, a rocky hill on the Trotternish Peninsula of the Isle of Skye.
Maciej Duczynski

I think landscape photography is more appreciated in the U.S. than in Europe. It’s not so easy here to exhibit in good galleries. My color landscapes here in Poland are considered trash, not art. In Eastern Europe, it’s hardly possible to live from landscape photography. No one is interested in buying it. This makes our life a bit more complicated.

In much of Eastern Europe, we’re surrounded by rather ugly and dull landscapes. As a landscape photographer here, you have two choices: You can travel to more beautiful places or you can stay and try to show these places in an interesting way. This is, of course, difficult, but not impossible. Many of our photographers take this challenge.

Skógafoss is one of the most spectacular Icelandic waterfalls. Situated in the south of Iceland at the cliffs of the former coastline, with a drop of 60 meters, it’s also one of the highest. Due to the amount of spray, most of the time you can see a rainbow here.
Almost all of Europe is highly populated. Fortunately, it’s still possible to find beautiful nature, pristine landscapes and wilderness. As a photographer, I spend most of my time searching for this kind of location, but I try to not limit my photography just to classical, wild places. One of my favorite pictures shows a tulip field near Amsterdam just after sunrise. In fact, this is a manufactured landscape, created by humans, but still a beautiful landscape that tells a story.

In my portfolio, you’ll find many wild landscapes, but if you look closer, in most of them, you’ll find some elements of humankind. This is one of the things I want to show in my landscape photography—how the human can coexist in a good way with nature. You can see small figures of mountain climbers in Iceland, rowboats on a Norwegian lake, a small footpath in the Polish Tatra Mountains, a road crossing the Icelandic interior, a man-made lake in the Alps in Switzerland, a barley field in Tuscany, beautiful yellow grape fields in Slovakia….

Landmannalaugar Mountains in the southern interior of Iceland. For Duczynski, this is the most amazing place in Iceland, full of colors, rhyolite mountains and expansive lava fields.
Europe is small and diverse. This is a big advantage for landscape photographers. If you live in the middle of Europe, you can take your car; one day driving will reach most of the places. If you go south, you can catch the view of the Bardenas Reales desert in Spain or Tuscan fields in Italy; if you go north, you can photograph amazing fjords in Norway; if you go west, you’ll see beautiful sunsets at the cliffs of Normandy in France; if you go east, you can hike and shoot in the Carpathian Mountains in Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and Romania. You don’t want to go that far? Then stay in the Alps in the center of Europe, located on the border between five countries—France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Germany.

My favorite countries are Norway and Iceland. The nature there is really amazing. The population is rather small, so it’s easy to find magnificent wilderness. Both countries are very different. Norway, with its beautiful fjords, mountains and glaciers, is beautiful in a very classical way. Iceland is a rather new land. Its lava fields, volcanoes and geysers give the unique possibility to see what I call a “lunar landscape.”

See more of Maciej Duczynski’s photography at www.lonelywolf.pl


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