I have been slowly photographing the roadside vegetation in my local area on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula with large format cameras--in this case a 5x4 Linhof Technika IV. This kind of slow photography is an attempt to photograph nature whilst avoiding working within the tradition of wilderness photography, which is where a lot of large format photographers in Australia have situated themselves and their work.
The roadside vegetation subject matter is often mundane, ordinary and boring. It requires a lot of scoping to find something that is suitable to photograph, and I basically do the scoping whilst I am on my daily poodle walks along back country roads. These walks allow me to become familiar with the bush and early morning light during the autumn, winter and early spring months.
This particular tree study emerged from my frequent early morning poodle walks along Baum Rd in Waitpinga It's a no exit road that runs between agricultural /grazing fields and it leads to farms and holiday houses along the coastal edge of the Waitpinga Cliffs. This minimal traffic means that this road is ideal for early morning poodle walks.
This kind of roadside vegetation is what is left of nature outside of the national and state parks and conservation parks in these colonised landscapes. Seeing nature in historical terms is contrary to a core assumption in Western philosophy, namely, the split between non-human nature and human history. In engaging nature as history, history becomes subject to nature and therefore to decline. It is to envision the future as ruins.
The traditional split between non-human nature and human history is no longer tenable in the era of the Anthropocene, which is currently characterised by the shock-waves of drought, flooding, climate heating, low rainfall, fire, species extinction, sea-level rise and ocean acidification. The Anthropocene, refers to a world-changing rupture in our social and ecological system. A humanities-based approach to the concept of the Anthropocene would call attention to the ways in which stories are told and to how crises are narrated or visualized.
The conventional approach to Anthropocene photography is to portray the effects of an economy and a way of life by focusing on structures from an aerial point of view, a perspective favored by most of the main proponents of environmental photography. Those pictures--eg., those by Edward Burtynsky---show a failure of the technological sublime--the transformation of the sublime from nature to the monumental or mega engineering works that highlighted the mastery of human reason and power over nature. The awe is induced by the immensity of the technological object.
The conventional images of the Anthropocene show failure of the technological sublime- as a sort of slow catastrophe, rather than the usual apocalyptic and spectacular version. They picture the landscape with the conventions of the aesthetics of the sublime.
In contrast to roaming the skies with a drone this kind of roadside photography is made by planting my feet firmly on the ground--ie., being in touch with the earth. But it is more landscape or environmental photography than Anthropocene photography. I am not sure how you would do the latter. Would it be visual logic of catastrophe and decay, a beautification or a vision of a civilization on the road to ruin?
How can we ground the Anthropocene in specific places outside of the island states in the Pacific? Maybe photography in the era of the Anthropocene can turn to allegory to explore nature as history and history subject to nature?