Open in case of loss

by Mark Easterbrook

Take us there
Without taking us there.

Give us the fall of the light and
The moment of sky and
The depth of shadow
(Is it cold in the lee? Or a break from the sun?) and
The rawness of the earth blown dry.

Walk us through the capture —
How glass and light and circuitry hold
Time and place and the majesty of
Land and season.

Unwind the way the words fall in
Lines that trace the shape of the
Hills and valleys and memories of
There and when.

When we lose our way to the drylands
Take us there.

‘Lindis Pass’

Sharing the Unseen

Drylands, Lindis Pass, Mackenzie Country, New Zealand. Writer, Mark Easterbrook. Artist: Mark Carter.

It’s been a long time since I’ve visited any of the South Island’s dryland habitats. And for this project, I was unable to go back. But I remembered an image of the Mackenzie Country. Taken by my friend Mark Carter, an accomplished photographer, it suggested to me that writers and photographers can transport people to places unvisited. I wanted to know if Mark thought the same.

ME:This is Lindis Pass, correct? What took you there to take the photo?

MC: Lindis Pass was long on my radar. I’m attracted to dramatic landscapes with a surreal feeling to them, like impressionist art. It’s hard to imagine something like this is so perfect in form, like a sculptor has carved it.

ME: What are you trying to capture when you shoot a landscape like this?

MC: I definitely look for drama and raw beauty… if the terrain is rugged and unforgiving, otherworldly or vast, it’s got my attention. I like the idea of capturing something that gives you a bit of a wow feeling, questioning if it’s real.

I try to capture the raw feeling, the remoteness, the rugged unforgiving nature or sublime beauty. I’m usually by myself. There’s an inner peace you feel, but also the sense of being exposed to nature, vulnerable. It can be unnerving… I want to convey how it feels to be alone in these places.

ME: I look at this shot and think about how photographers are able to transport people. Do you ever think about it in that way?

MC: Yes, absolutely. This is something that I almost always think about. How can I make you feel like you’re there, how do I translate what I’m seeing and feeling into an image and convey this? That’s probably why I search for the drama…that edgy uneasiness and raw beauty, all wrapped up in human emotions.

ME: Is photography a valid way to safely share ecologically fragile places with people?

MC: Absolutely, though with modern social media it often works in the opposite way, drawing more people into often untouched places for that perfect selfie. For me it’s all about the landscape and not about me in it… going in and leaving as little imprint on the area as I can.

Photography plays a huge role in communicating how fragile our ecological environment is. It can highlight this fragility and show the beauty, why it needs to be cared for. Or conversely, it can expose the damage overuse of the land can cause.

ME: Thanks Mark. Here’s to transporting people, through images and words!

Personal Pledge

Creatively, with words and photography, we strive to share both the beauty and fragility of New Zealand’s natural habitats so they can be experienced without impact.

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