End Frame - about Peter Cairns

Tekst van mijn artikel in OnLandscape Magazine, April 2019

End Frame

Charlotte's request to write a piece for the End Frame section of OnLandscape was a true surprise and an honour. My favourite landscape photo. Difficult question. In the End Frame section it is not just about an image that appeals to you, I think it is even more about a photographer that inspires you. So the first question is: which photographer inspires me most? I can name many photos that inspire me. There are also various photographers hat I admire. Colin Prior with his calm and yet strong landscape images. He knows how to capture the power of mountains and water in an excellent way. I am also a great admirer of the work of Joe Cornish. His photos are masterpieces of composition.

My choice
For the End Frame, however, I want to put a completely different photographer in the spotlight. Someone who is less known for his landscapes, but especially for his beautiful pictures of wildlife, which usually feel as an encounter between the animal and the photographer. However, his landscape photos are also beautiful. His portfolio contains photos from all over the world. As a true Scotland fan, the pictures he took in Scotland appeal to me the most. It was difficult to choose a single photo as a favourite. But the rules for this End frame are clear: choose one favourite photograph.

I have chosen an image that can be seen on Peter Cairns’ website under the heading "Conservation Communication" and also in the book "Scotland a rewilding journey" (pages 202-203).
For me, this photo symbolizes the message that Peter Cairns wants to convey with his book and his lectures (more on this later): Nature in Scotland is still beautiful, but has been considerably stripped down. A large part of the ancient pine forest has disappeared. Only a small percentage of trees remain, in other words the forest is only a shadow of what it once was. But there is hope on the horizon. If we intervene now and give nature the chance to fight its way back, then there is a future for nature, for us and for a world in which man and nature live in harmony with each other.
About the image
Contrary to the rule of thirds, Peter has chosen a central horizon for this photo, which works very well in this case. The silhouettes of the pine trees are perfectly mirrored in the smooth water surface. The morning time (I am guessing it is morning time and not evening red) provides color in the sky. The clouds lead the eye to the right and the back of the image, where the mountains are partly covered with clouds and mist. It all creates a harmonious and serene image.

I like to photograph around the ends of the day too. Especially in the morning. The day awakens and holds a promise. You can be alone with nature. The sky can hold amazing colours. The air is still fresh and you will find peace in the morning. It will all be reflected in the photos you take around sunrise.

About Peter Cairns
Peter Cairns has been a freelance nature and conservation photographer since 1998. He is founding director of The Wild Media Foundation, co-founder and Business Director of the pan-European photography initiative Wild Wonders of Europe and in 2015 he founded SCOTLAND: The Big Picture. He runs a photographic tour company, serves as a Board Member of Scottish rewilding charity Trees for Life, and is a Senior Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers.
Peter Cairns is lucky to live in a beautiful part of the world: Scotland. He loves the place. Scotland and the Cairngorms area continue to inspire him to create beautiful images. He has recorded almost all animal species in the area. That has yielded beautiful images. Peter's photography has developed from ‘taking photographs of subjects’ to showing Nature’s beauty. In recent years he has moved more and more towards images of the animal in its environment, of animals in the landscape. The centre of gravity lies with ‘Conservation Communication’. With "Scotland the Big Picture” he is calling out for rewilding Scotland.
Peter Cairns has been travelling around the world with this message for some time. He is passionate about preserving nature in Scotland. With beautiful landscape photos he completely ‘misleads’ the viewers. While they are admiring the image, Peter points out that what many photographers appreciate about the Scottish landscape, the picture for which Scotland is known, is essentially one showing poverty. Famous Scottish landscape images are usually picturing bare, stony ridges with a clear view of rivers running deep in the valley. Beautiful pictures, but according to Peter Cairns they also show how bad Scottish nature is. The bare rocks that allow us to capture beautiful vistas were once overgrown with pine trees. The trees have been cut down over the centuries. What remains is what we landscape photographers admire. He calls the iconic Quiraing on the Isle of Skye “the idealized Scotland, the clichéd Scotland celebrated in tourist brochures. The Quiraing is a museum piece; it is a geological wonder surrounded by an ecological desert, stripped of the natural woodlands and vegetation that would once have cloaked its slopes.”
I was lucky to attend to his inspiring lecture "Scotland the Big Picture" in November 2018 in the Netherlands. Under the motto "Think like a mountain", Peter calls for a repaint of Scotland, so that future generations inherit a nature-rich country.

With his nature and landscape photography and his commitment as a conservation photographer, Peter Cairns is truly an example to me. The situation in the area where I live, Waterland, just above Amsterdam in the Netherlands, is similar to the situation in Peter Cairns' Scotland. Of course we miss the beautiful mountains here, but our peat landscape has its own beauty. A beauty that sadly consists of fragmented nature. Islets of peat moss in the middle of an agricultural area, the advancing big city as a constant threat. Just like Scotland is to Peter, my local patch is very dear to me. I am sad about the loss of nature and of panoramic views. By showing the beauty of the Waterland area, I want to make a modest contribution to the growing awareness that we must protect nature, peace and space.
I hope I have made it clear why this photo is my "end frame". A beautiful photo ... one with a message.

About me
Simone Opdam is a passionate Dutch nature photographer from Waterland with a special liking for landscape and macro photography. Her images are characterised by atmosphere and softness. She loves to capture the landscape of her beloved Waterland, preferably around sunrise. Travel photography is another branch of photography she likes. Her favourite destination being Great Britain. Simone is involved in various nature conservation organisations in the region, she runs photography workshops and works as a photo tour guide (Scotland and Wales). She regularly exhibits her images locally.