CD Burnett Nature Photography
I have been photographing Nature since my youth, traipsing through the woodlands of the Berkshires of western Massachusetts with my Kodak Instamatic. As an undergraduate at the SUNY College of Forestry in Syracuse, my interest in photography was greatly advanced by meeting Professor William Harlow, one of the early greats of macro and time-lapse photography. Shortly after Bill showed me the kind of equipment he used, was the only time I seriously tested my parents’ decision to make me a signer on their checking account. As the photo editor of the college yearbook, I shot and developed a lot of black and white in those years, creating a strange mixture of nature celebration and late 1960’s campus turmoil.
Working as an environmental consultant and educator after college, I photographed everything in Nature that I could afford to given the cost of film and developing. Inspiration in those years came from the photographs of Eliot Porter. In the late 1970’s, my doctoral studies at Boston University lead me into the world of flash photography and infrared videography while studying the ecology of bats.
In the following decades, I continued to use photography as an important tool in my various endeavors as an academic, consultant, environmental activist, homesteader, and parent. But photography as art was still waiting. Then came the digital revolution, and shooting lots of photos became possible without going broke. And shooting lots of photos is what it takes to make photographs worthy of being called fine art.
Today, the pieces I present as art are created more from a spiritual than a practical viewpoint. I purposely seek out some subjects, especially to celebrate the extraordinary beauty of Michigan Upper Peninsula that I have called home for over three decades. However, my usual approach is to wander about in a natural area testing my belief that great beauty can always be found nearby if you quiet your mind and simply observe.
As an excessively practical person, “getting lost in the woods” pursuing beauty with a camera balances my life. I think of photographing Nature not as capturing images, but as a form of reverence, attempting to clearly see and appreciate the essence, the Gestalt, of other species and natural phenomena. In the process of developing and printing high resolution digital images, my reverence and understanding of Nature have been furthered as I often discover other, smaller species and structures that I overlooked in the field.
I hope that the beauty of Nature, as I interpret it, will inspire viewers to contribute to the protection of natural areas in their communities.