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Earth Photo 2021 - For The Love of Our Planet

Words:

Edd Norval

Photos:

Credited individually
August 20, 2021

Last week was World Photography Day for 2021 and today we look at one of the most revered annual photography competitions - Earth Photo - where the focus is put on our planet, the people living on it and the changes faced. Here are the best of the bunch.

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Winning the 'Moving Images' category were Pierpaolo Mittica and Alessandro Tesei with their dive into the fallout of nuclear testing in 'Semipalatinsk Polygon, the crime of nuclear testing' - a short looking at the last impact and effects, on nature, biology and culture, of the weapon tests carried out during the Cold War period. 

With her powerful narrative-driven triptych, Rosie Hallam was the competition's overall winner. Titled 'A Right To Education', the photographer captured a familial scene, mother and father working as a means of providing hope for a new generation.


The young girl, the couple's daughter, was the first of the family to remain in school past primary, whilst her parents - both sustenance farmers - participate in an education programme too.


It shows a happy scene, that of perseverance and iron-will, yet captured delicately with paternal love and the cotton-wool that surrounds a child, engrossed in her book, seemingly unaware of the adverse circumstances surrounding her. 

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With a stunning rendition of nature photography and a tongue firmly in his cheek, Edward Bateman has captured the dramatic scenery of Yosemite National Park's 'Half Dome In Winter'. 


An impressive granite structure, named after its unique shape, Bateman, unable to travel to the mountain himseld due to the park's coronavirus closure, decided to bring the park to him.


3D printing the mountain using data in accordance to the real-life topographical equivalent - a monument to the mountain sites on his kitchen table, shrouded in fog (from a fog machine) and is infused with enough creativity and commentary to net him the 'Place' winner.

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Bringing home the bacon in the 'Nature' category is a photograph that just oozes pure nature porn. Iceland, home to some of the most dramatic landscapes in the world, is the star of Markus van Hauten's show. 


Titled 'Blue Pool', we are faced with, unsurprisingly, a huge blue pool. Contrasting explicitly with its relatively monotone surroundings, the pool is composed slightly off-centre, capturing our eye without completely dominating the frame. 

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One of the more interesting categories is 'Changing Forests'. The task is built on a duality. It must be a static image, yet capture the concept of change. There must be some kind of dynamism, even if it's only philosophical.


The destruction of nature and the desolation left behind are always harrowing viewing, encapsulated into one image by Roberto Bueno whose attention moves away from the more common areas under the spotlight (Amazon, etc) to Europe - namely, Spain's vinyards.


Contrasting the lush forestation that barely make the periphery of the image, his focus is on the stepped hills made to facilitate the growing of vines. With only a slight squint, it looks like a mine you'd expect to find associated with heavy metals or precious gems. 


Yet, whilst these commodities have gathered enough attention in the last few years for their impact, that of the vinyard is overlooked. Not so anymore in 'Forest Like Gardens'.  

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Finally, another kind of change is upon us, less that of man (directly) but that of nature - the most potent of all beasts on this earth. In Antonio Pérez's series 'The Sea Moves Us, the Sea Moves', we are introduced to several figures standing forlornly in the skeletal remains of their once-homes.


Coastal erosion in West Africa - with a spotlight here on Ghana - is a real concern and something that, essentially, is being exasperated by the behaviours of the country's inhabitants.


Although not exclusively true, as the West African coastlife can be viewed as dynamic, always changing due to the caustic effects of waves on land, farming and construction adds an extra layer of precarity to the land closest to the sea. 


Here we see the debate removed from research and shown a human lens - a reminder that, beyond causes, reasons and methods to prevent it in the future, are real people being affected in real-time.

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