This morning I realized that I never got around to writing my blog post last weekend. So, here we go. I spent time in the Eastown neighborhood in Grand Rapids with a traditional camera and drove out to Saranac, 30 minutes east of Grand Rapids, and photographed with my DJI/Hasselblad drone camera. This blogpost is mostly images from Saranac.
As an environmental historian and photographer, I’m fascinated with the blurry lines between “natural” environment, where humanity’s impact can’t easily be seen; what we might call “natural environment 2.0,” where nature is altered for human purposes, as in farms, golf courses, gardens, and many kinds of parks; and “built environment,” such as towns, cities, power plants, etc. Especially I’m interested in where “natural” environment and “built” environment meet.
As in the water treatment facility a few hundred yards east of Saranac. The colors, tones, and lines are beautiful and abstract from the sky, making it easy to forget that what you’re seeing is an effort to deal with the environmental entropy created by humans and our built environment.
In the next photo you can see the whole facility and get a better sense of what it is. In the background is Saranac, where you can catch a glimpse of a bridge over the Grand River (upper center of the image). The second image below is that bridge. That’s roughly where I put the drone in the air.
The last three images are from western end of Eastown, in Grand Rapids. They are different angles on a fabulous old building recently renovated.
I’m not sure which photographer(s) to credit for the series of images I’ve done over the past year of business districts in small towns, villages, and urban neighborhoods in West Michigan in the past year. I do know that I like the artists published by Subjectively Objective. And it know that I have been inspired by colorized postcards from the 1920s to the 1940s. We have a collection of postcards of this sort in the archives where I work.
An inspiration for my drone photography of nature meeting build environment is Edward Burtynsky, the Canadian photographer who uses medium format cameras and shoots from platforms, planes, and helicopters.
I suppose, with all this commentary, instead of simply saying “Enjoy!” I should add “Think!” The images are enjoyable simply as images, I hope. But I also hope that they lead to thought about the world humans have built in what scholars have started calling the “Anthropocene,” the geological age of the past two centuries when humans have become the biggest factor driving not just our own evolution but that of the planet.