Why the small wonders of nature?
Because they are fascinatingly beautiful and often overlooked or taken for granted. An acquaintance once said that “most people confuse altitude with beauty.” The grand can be beautiful, but so can the small and intimate details with which we can truly interact. We can all get close to and observe the small details in our surroundings.
When did you start focusing on these?
It was a gradual process over the years. When we traveled, we came to the conclusion that details were as important as grand landscapes in describing places we visited. For small “scenes” we can produce “sweet light” with diffusers and reflectors at any time of day even in bright sun. Sweet light for landscapes only occurs early or late in the day.
Why have they kept your photographic attention for so long?
We do many kinds of photography but over time found that our natural inclination for attention to details in the rest of our life also provides the greatest pleasure in our art. It is fun to photograph the intimate details.
What has changed in the outdoor world since your first days of photographing these areas?
There are more protected areas but fewer places in general to find native plants and animals. Photographic technology keeps adding new ways to work and to express oneself.
The cataloging and protecting of selected special spaces are improvements. It is easier to learn what may be found in a protected location. Preparation is important in successful photography.
Many of these special areas are too small to maintain themselves and resist invasive species. The place where we once found many Michigan lilies has been overrun by escaped garden daylilies and brome grass, and the Michigan lilies are gone.
Robert and Linda Scarth are the photographers of Deep Nature: Photographs from Iowa