Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Solitude Is Bliss
Kurt Budliger creates peaceful landscapes in the uncharted territory around his New England home
Misty mornings and diffused light are hallmarks of Budliger's portfolio. It's partly practical—if you want to shoot in a challenging location, you take what nature provides. But it's also technically beneficial, especially if your goal is creating quiet, contemplative landscapes.
Says Budliger, "When you get down into a forest or along a creek or stream, if the light is intense, it's really tough. The contrast range is way too high. You get super-deep, dark shadows and blown-out highlights; you lose all color. You lose the nuance of all the detail and texture.
"I've been out West," he says, "and I know what it's like. I love it out West. It's grand; it's striking and fun to shoot. There are tons of places out there I want to go shoot. But I like how intimate the Northeast is. When I lived out West, I spent a lot of time in the car driving. If you're going to work or go to school, you have to live in civilization, and those places are sometimes really far from the vast tracts of land. That's one of the things I stress to students in my workshops—you can shoot beautiful landscapes anywhere. I have an example where I show a series of images of birch trunks with some pretty beech leaves surrounding them. It's a nice intimate landscape, and I show a few different variations on it, and then I show the wide-angle scene—it's literally the edge of my yard. The garden shed and the lawnmower are sitting right there by the kids' swing set."
Perhaps Budliger excels at finding and photographing untouched bits of wilderness because of his passion for preservation. The son of a biology teacher and an environmental activist—and a former science teacher himself—he has worked in nature his whole life, and long before he picked up a camera, he was first and foremost concerned with enjoying and protecting nature. The camera serves as an artistic outlet, to be sure, but it's primarily a tool to get him outdoors and keep him working to preserve the natural world.
See more of Kurt Budliger's photography at kurtbudligerphotography.com.
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