“I took [the headline] photo at about lunch time in West Topsham, Vermont at a farm I interned at. I thought it was funny how the rooster was facing out ward while the hen was facing inward. After taking it, it reminded me of an old black-and-white I had seen growing up that had another rooster in a window set up similarly.”

For the fall 2015 semester, Leonard Evans embarked on an independent study with Leland Peterson “to photograph the natural world around us to try to show how human culture has been and in some cases still is working with the natural world, and to show that we as humans who live and work on the landscape are truly at the forefront of the protection of our natural resources.” Leonard, due to graduate this May, is majoring in Conservation Ecology and minoring in Draft Horse Management.

Entitled “Photography of Nature and Culture,” the class helped Leonard with “understanding the lighting of the subject [he] was photographing as well as the angle [he] took the photo from.” He explains “I was taking photos of a plant I found in the forest back home (I always take several photos from different angles and distances), and I found that the ones I liked the most were the ones that were offset at an angle later in the afternoon when the sun was high in the sky. So I started to incorporate this in all my photos. Photos from up high, down low, off to the side, or with my subject (generally an animal) turned ever so slightly away from or toward me as I took the photos. I had a lot of fun doing it.”

What most excited me about this study was the fact that I could show the flip side of farming, logging, and conservation efforts. The side that I see everyday. Most people, when you mention logging, get defensive and start calling you offensive names, saying “you need to let nature just do its thing.” Or if you’re involved in farming, then you must be for animal cruelty. What most of these naysayers do not understand is that true farmers and loggers are always looking towards the future. For instance, the happiest animals I’ve seen to date were not in the homes of animal rights activists (I know a large number of them), but at the homes of farmers whose livelihood is the animals. Mind you, I’m talking about family run farms not the big warehouse farms.

I also do not know of too many old school loggers who “butcher” a forest just for profit. Nine out of ten of the loggers I know are looking at future forest regeneration and overall forest health. Loggers are actually creating a large amount of biodiversity within our forest ecosystems by creating new feeding ground and habitat for wildlife. If you let a forest “just do its thing,” you actually are creating a slowly tightening noose that in time will not have any wildlife living in it because of the lack of food and cover from new growth.

These skills will support Leonard professionally after graduation, as he has plans to “continue to take photographs of the working landscape to educate people in the ways of good land management and to show that it is not as ‘horrifying’ as they were led to believe. Heck, maybe I’ll even sell some of them down the road.” When asked about personal growth, Leonard quipped, “I don’t know if I’ve actually grown as a person…I mean I’m not any taller than I was. Hehehe. In all seriousness though, I was able to show my artistic side and talents here, wheres back home I don’t generally have the time to do so. I also was able to develop a lot more of my skills because I had a set working ‘study’ schedule.”

photography of nature

“This photo I took at around 8 in the morning. I was in awe at how the combination of the light and fog in the valley added to the beauty of the scene. I had to run back to get my camera; if I’d had it with me, I would have caught the wisps of fog that were around the draft horse barn.”

photography of nature

“I was giddy as all get up when I found this newt while wandering through the woods in East Topsham. The whole scene had been laid out by nature just waiting for me to come along. I was even more excited when I looked at the photo later and actual got to see at how well it had come out. I thought it would be a really dark photo and I would not be able to use it but the dark background really helped the colors of the newt to ‘pop’ out.”

photography of nature

“I took this photo while on vacation out in Michigan from a moving vehicle. At first when I saw the wheat fields I thought that the hay had been spoiled somehow. Having never seen wheat before, you can’t really blame me for that train of thought. This I felt was the best of the moving photos that I took. It shows clear movement in the front while still keeping good details in the farther back round bails.”

photography of nature

“This photo I also took while on vacation. If there’s one thing I learned about the Midwest, it is the fact that it’s all open, flat ground, and the sunsets are absolutely wonderful. The color schemes of the sunset out there also seem to be more vibrant somehow. But then again, maybe they are not. All the sunsets I’ve seen before this time always ended behind a Vermont mountain. This sunset though, to me, represents the hope for a bright future with mankind and nature working together instead of against one another.”

All photographs taken by and property of Leonard Evans.

Written by Heather Cullen.

Filed Under: Blog Community Environmental Humanities