WEEK 35 : Environmental Photography – Plastics

Here we are, WEEK 35, end of August 2018, a good part of the planet is on fire, literally and our oceans are choking to death from contaminants, especially from plastics.

NASA IMAGE - Fires on Earth in red - August 23, 2018

NASA IMAGE – Fires on Earth in red – August 23, 2018

Man’s impact on earth is enormous and photography is the ideal medium to document this impact. Through images and videos, we can build awareness for the alarming situation from the four corners of our corner less round planet.

Just this week, NASA releases images of fires on earth. A drone captures footage of an isolated Amazonian tribe and we know countless images are circulating about plastic trash, litter and contamination around the globe.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: Litter in Montreal Nature Parks / déchets dans les parcs nature de Montréal &emdash; Oasis, Minute Maid, paper cups, plastic bottles - Déchets Parc Nature Île-de-la-Visitation Nature Park Litter

I took the above image 10 years ago, trash along our rivers that eventually makes its way into our oceans is nothing new. Back then environmental groups were working hard to build awareness, but you were lucky to hear much at all unless you went out and sought the information yourself.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: Parc de Brouage, Boucherville J4B &emdash; Déchets, peinture, poudre colorer, ballons, et plus dans le parc de Brouage, Boucherville suivent une activité de camp de jour le 2018-08-07

Ten years later I’m walking in a small park that nestles a small wooded area with a little river, all rich in biodiversity. Naturally you still find the plastic dog poop bags, water bottles and other containers. We’d think people would be a little more aware, well not. The above image is of a balloon filled with colored powder used by a day camp in an activity. An activity that left hundreds of balloons in the river and the wooded area. For me it’s incomprehensible that in this day and age, that an adult can involve children in such a polluting activity. The message went much further as the park was filled with litter from one of their other activities that involved graffiti with water soluble paints. All I saw was, let’s teach children to be irresponsible little irresponsible delinquents.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: Parc de Brouage, Boucherville J4B &emdash; Attirail de drogue - La vente et consomation de stupefiant demeure presente jour et nuit dans le parc de Brouage, Boucherville 2018-08-07

Photography was the tool to document the situation and have the local authorities rectify the situation promptly. I didn’t make a photo project out of it, just some snapshots with my smartphone.

Photo by Dustan Woodhouse on Unsplash

Photo by Dustan Woodhouse on Unsplash

When we move on beyond the snapshot, we enter the world of Environmental Photography. Environmental Photography is loosely defined and you won’t even find it defined in Wikipedia. Some encompass everything from Ansel Adams Landscapes to images of erupting volcanoes. One photographer that truly pioneered the Art of Environmental Photography as Art was Edward Burtynsky.

Manufactured Landscapes BY JENNIFER BAICHWAL - Edward Burtynsky

Manufactured Landscapes BY JENNIFER BAICHWAL – Edward Burtynsky

I was marked by Edward Burtynsky’s work in a film by Jennifer Baichwall, Manufactured Landscapes. It truly gave me a sense of how enormous our impact on earth was through our industrialization. His photography came to life with a behind-the-scenes documentary.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: Litter in Montreal Nature Parks / déchets dans les parcs nature de Montréal &emdash; Déchets - Parc Nature Île-de-la-Visitation Nature Park - Litter

If I had to take a guess, I would say that plastic water bottles are one of our most obvious signs of plastic contamination. Although recyclable and at times consigned with a monetary value, they seem to rarely make their way to responsible disposal.

DEFINING YOUR CHALLENGE

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: Litter in Montreal Nature Parks / déchets dans les parcs nature de Montréal &emdash; Plastic Tim Hortons Cup / Goblet en plastic - Litter / Déchets - Île-de-la-Visitation

For this Photo Challenge we don’t want to only capture the litter itself, we’re looking for a photograph that includes plastic that has an impact or a potential impact in our environment and the environment needs to be present in the image. The above image not only documents a piece of plastic litter, it also incorporates the urban nature environment it was found in. More than just photographing litter, we’re photographing the litter in an environment. This should be a baseline for the minimum amount of environment shown.

Photo by Sander Wehkamp on Unsplash

Photo by Sander Wehkamp on Unsplash

The above image clearly defines how plastic has become the norm for containers of all kinds across the planet. Although not trash as illustrated in the image, its presence in our daily lives and environment are clearly documented.

Photo by Patrick Hendry - Unsplash

Photo by Patrick Hendry – Unsplash

The above image may look unrelated to plastics in our environment, it’s actually the source of plastic, the Petrochemical Industry that transforms Crude Oil into Plastic.

Photo by Artem Bali on Unsplash

Photo by Artem Bali on Unsplash

Long gone are the days of the cardboard straw, today the plastic straw is the enemy and it is consumed by the millions each day in America. The worldwide impact is hard to grasp. Fortunately new reusable and biodegradable options are making their way on the market.

Photo by Charl van Rooy on Unsplash

Photo by Charl van Rooy on Unsplash

Even the way we dispose of garbage involves plastic. From plastic bags to plastic bins, most of which aren’t recyclable.

These examples differ greatly from the regular litter images as they offer a setting, an environment for the plastic. We’re not looking for extreme closeups, but rather the environment where plastic related subject resides.

External Resources

Some of these resources are a little unrelated as they aren’t concentrating on plastic, but they offer an overview of environmental photography. Having the basic understanding of the field of Environmental Photography will just help complete this photo challenge with more impact.

  1. Edward Burtynsky – https://www.edwardburtynsky.com/
  2. NIKON Tips for Environmental Photographers
  3. Ciwem environmental photographer of the year 2017 winners – in pictures
  4. Environmental Photography: Blending Art & Activism
  5. Environmental Photography on Pinterest

The friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to our active community on our Facebook GroupFlickr Groupor 500PX group (or all three). Tag the photo:  #10thanniversaryphotochallenge #2018photochallenge #photochallenge #tempusaura
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2018 Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

 

About Steve Troletti

I'm a Location Scout, Editorial, Nature, Wildlife and Environmental Photographer based in Malibu, California. I specialize in Nature and Urban Nature photography including Infrared Landscapes. The Bulk of my work takes place in the Los Angeles, California area, Greater Montreal Region, Canada, Switzerland, France and Varese in Northern Italy. Ethical wildlife photography is the main priority and focus of my work. A minimum disturbance of the animals, their habitat and the environment is my top priority. This applies as much to total wilderness areas as it does to urban nature environments. Ongoing education of environmental issues and building awareness for the protection of wildlife and wilderness areas around the world is what drives me to document the beauty that surrounds us.

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