Exhibit reimagines environmental photography

Danielle De Luna
Assistant Editor

In 2014, photographer Kes Efstathiou attached a GoPro to a DJI Phantom 1 drone and steered it 300 yards above the forests, lakes, beaches and highways of Montana, Maine and New Hampshire.

Inspired by Julius Neubronner’s photographic experiments with carrier pigeons in 1907, Efstathiou surrendered artistic control, entrusting the work of image capture to a self timer on the GoPro.

“I set a timer to take a picture every five seconds and hoped for the best,” Efstathiou said.

His methods resulted in a 12-piece set of black and white silkscreen prints that present an abstract view of landscape photography.

The Carlson Gallery held a reception to welcome Efstathiou’s collection, titled “Distancing,” Wednesday evening.

Efstathiou attended the gallery reception via Skype from his home in Rochester, New York. Photography Department Manager Kevin Bowman guided Efstathiou through the gallery using a makeshift iPad stand.

About 30 honors and photography students wandered the hallway, and some periodically approached the screen of the iPad to talk to Efstathiou, asking him questions about processes he used and the choices he made.

He said positioning the camera parallel to the earth allowed him to take a design approach.

“When I looked at the hundreds of photos I took, I looked for diversity in the landscape and I looked for compositional elements” Efstathiou said. “Unable to decipher the landscape, I used the screen printing process out of necessity because the images were so blurry.”

The fish eye lens of the GoPro leaves the subjects of some photos up to audience interpretation. One image taken above the treetops of Hyalite Canyon in Montana mimics the pattern of an explosion of dust and ash.

Another, taken at Popham State Park in Maine, resembles a painterly wash of archival ink.

An affinity for traveling compelled him to photograph these vacant natural landscapes.

“I really like driving and road trips,” Efstathiou said. “I’ve driven through all 50 states. I love just going out to national and state parks and waiting for good lighting.”

Efstathiou’s collection meshes well with the previous exhibitor’s work, said Art Suwansang, visiting instructor of photography.

“It’s abstracting the environmental theme we first saw in Christine Carr’s ‘In the Air’ earlier this semester,” Suwansang said.

The halftones in the photos relate to particulate matter, Bowman said.

“I really appreciate the abstraction and balance of tones,” Bowman said. “The dots fade with distance, displaying the image.”

However, the need for distance to fully appreciate the nuance of the work presented logistical problems when placing the prints up for display.

“We experimented with layout a lot,” Bowman said, “I staggered the work so you never had the work facing each other, no light falling on you and no reflection on the plexiglass as well.”

Junior biology major Hanien Samara said the exhibit was impressive and wanted to hear more about campus arts events.

“I wish there was more publicity about the fine arts events,” Samara said. “CAB always does a great job advertising their events, and it’d be nice to see that much effort be put toward the arts.”

Danielle De Luna can be reached at danielle.deluna@laverne.edu.

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