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Wild Hokkaido - Evoking Mystery



When I visited Hokkaido I was fully aware of its magnificent wildlife. Bears, Eagles, Ezo Deer, Red Crowned Cranes, the list goes on. We were so incredibly lucky to witness all of these creatures, even a very rare Black Fox. For me, the entire aesthetic of a particular set of photographs can be inspired by a single moment. For example, in my 'Where Ravens Soar' series, I was so moved by the echoing cries of Ravens on the Quiraing (Isle of Skye), that moment was the spark for the project. In Hokkaido, however, there were so many profound moments on a personal level that it has taken me some time to find the aesthetic. The inspiration has been drawn from many experiences. As I have discussed in a previous blog post, walking in the company of Bears is a primeval and powerful feeling. Seeing a Black Fox, was so utterly unexpected, a real shock even, that it is difficult to portray the emotions evoked by that sighting. Initially, I was kicking myself for not taking a big wildlife lens. I am a passionate nature lover, a closet druid even, and I studied for a degree in conservation, but wildlife photography has never really floated my boat. There are not so many photographers that do anything unique with wildlife photography. My favourite wildlife photographer is Vincent Munier. Munier's wildlife photography lends great consideration to the enviroment and aesthetic. With hindsight, I'm actually quite glad I didn't have 'the right lens' for wildlife photography as that would have probably meant I'd have super sharp close ups of these magical beasts. Whilst a great record, artistically that would never have worked for me personally. I require an element of mystery in my work.


For this set of 'wildlife' images, I really wanted to portray the interconnectedness of the natural world. The creatures here are intended to appear almost ghost-like. When one walks in these mountains one senses the powerful nature of the Bear. Although not always in sight, their presence is felt deeply with every footstep. In addition to the ghostly appearance, the aesthetic has a conservational message which is that these animals are incredibly precious and a valuable part of a natural, healthy ecosystem.





Furthermore, it seemed essential to display the elemental forces of this land, particularly the volcanic activity. Without going into detail about the photographic process, these are multi-exposure images. The Eagle at the top soars over an active volcano, fumaroles of sulfurous steam spewing out from its base. It is completely elemental.





The photo above is titled 'Black Fox'. Again, a ghostly presence which looks out at us from the dark tree line. For me these images are profound. I walked the miles in this wilderness and encountered these creatures at close quarters. They are moments of my life that I will never forget. I hope you enjoy this portrayal of the wilderness as I experienced it.


I'll be giving an online talk about this work on the 2nd June - please see the event page, link here.

(Note that this is a free event, although you can donate if you wish!)


Best wishes,


Karl.









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