In my fine art landscape photography, I have found a way to express my passion for the land and nature in general. I see beauty everywhere and don’t just see it but feel it. The incredible detail and intricacies of the natural world will never cease to amaze me. It is this beauty and detail that I do my very best to perform in my imagery.
For as long as I can remember I have always had a deep sense of connection to the natural world. Not just a love for it, but a conscious understanding of it. I feel the same sense of responsibility for the planet as I do for my children. At the same time, I’m in awe of our world as a child would be of its heroes. I believe our planet is sacred, alive and that we are all a part of something far greater than our arrogance as a race will allow us to accept.
Since a young age, I’ve been fascinated by the paranormal. I have always had a nagging feeling that there is more than just birth, life, death. My parents were very interested in the occult. I remember them having friends around, playing on an Ouija board. My dad, in particular, had a deep sense of connection to the land and nature in general. I can remember my childhood like it was yesterday.
We would go out walking in the woods or on the downs catching adders, lizards, shrews, mice, anything that was wild really. Being a young lad, I wanted to take the animals home, but I was never allowed. I was always taught to respect nature and the fact that wild animals should remain wild. We would study them in amazement for a short while whilst my dad told me all about the creature in hand.
We would then release them unscathed. I was taught about habitats and the importance of preserving them. Although this knowledge was instilled in me, I never really appreciated it until later in my life. I now have kids of my own, and even though they are only toddlers, I am beginning to impart to them the same knowledge and respect for the natural world I now cherish.
Unfortunately, my father passed away suddenly when I was seventeen. This really catapulted my desire to search for the truth about the nature of reality. After years of exploring these questions, I discovered that the answers I received only led to more questions. This became incredibly frustrating and possibly a little unhealthy. I felt I needed to take a different path, as the one I was on was beginning to consume me. So I went back to nature where the wild open spaces became my salvation. I was able to think clearly. It then dawned on me that the answers I so desperately craved could possibly come from a primal source.
So I began to conduct research into indigenous cultures and their spiritual beliefs, Native American in particular. It was this change in direction that helped me realise that the answers I was searching for were unknowable in our present physical state. That the best one can achieve is a realisation that all life is intricately connected. That we are all the same, that we are all a part of the land, the planet, the universe, and the consciousness that is woven into the very fabric of reality. We are it and it is us. As Laurence M Krauss wrote, “we are all stardust”.
A Tip of the Cap
My photography is, if you will, “a tip of the cap” in respect to the natural world. A way for me to channel and express the beauty and connection I feel for this wondrous planet we call home. It is so awe-inspiring and yet so fragile. Every moment of every historical event, every person and creature that ever lived in the history of history did so on this tiny blue spec floating in the backyard of some faraway galaxy amongst hundreds of billions of galaxies. That really blows me away.
Kit & Process
Completely self-taught, I still have so much to learn. Having always wanted to get into fine art landscape photography but had never really had the means to buy the best gear. But having set up my own successful property maintenance company a few years back, I suddenly had the funds to begin my photographic journey. Starting out with a Canon 1000D, I had never even owned a camera up until this point. It was a revelation to me, but I quickly outgrew it. By now my passion was leading the charge, so I upgraded, then upgraded again and again. I now own a Canon 5d mkiii and shoot all my landscape with the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L mkii. I also own Canon’s 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro lens which is just superb for close up wildlife subjects.
My workflow usually consists of shooting multiple exposures as RAW files. I then blend the images in Photoshop (resisting the urge to adopt any HDR-style effects) then carry out layer adjustments, (contrast, saturation, levels etc). This is followed by noise reduction and sharpening, using alpha channels, and maybe a little vignette if the mood takes me. However, I am just about to dip my toe into the world of luminosity masks, which I am most looking forward to.
I have booked a trip to Iceland in the near future with a landscape photographer friend of mine. We have a tent, sleeping bags and a 4×4. And that’s it! I have high hopes for this trip and I’m looking forward to coming back with some cracking images to play with! With luck, we may even get to shoot the northern lights! Fingers crossed.
In terms of where I would next like to take my fine art landscape photography, I would love to set up a photographic tour company. The thought of travelling to great locations with like-minded people is so appealing to me. If I can get this endeavour off the ground, I may, for the first time in my life, feel that I have achieved the perfect balance. After all, surely that’s what life’s all about? Watch this space!
Paul Duval is a fine art landscape photographer from West Sussex in the South of England. His love of photography stems from his passion for majesty, energy and mysticism of the natural world and wild places. More recently he has ventured into drone photography and aerial filming.
Paul Duval - www.paulduvallphotography.co.uk