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Nature and Art with William Neil

How much do you believe nature photography can contribute to conservation of nature?

I have a BA degree in Environmental Conservation, which I received in 1976 from the University of Colorado. I had faith back then that nature photography was a major component in the environmental movement, and still do. But it is just one of many ways to help conserve nature. We can all contribute by writing, voting green, and supporting organizations that work hard every day to improve our environment through education, political action and fund-raising. We must all contribute in some way.

Who are some of the non-photographic artists who you admire?

I admire the British sculptor, photographer and environmentalist Andy Goldsworthy, painters Chiura Obata, Monet and Van Gogh.

What are some of your future photography goals?

My goals for my future: remain creative, to publish new portfolios of my photography; to continue to share my knowledge and experience through teaching and writing. I just released a new ebook, William Neill’s YOSEMITE: VOLUME ONE so I plan on continuing creating portfolios of my imagery as high quality PDFs and soon as apps for the iPad and iPhone.

How much time do you spend just being in Nature appreciating it, versus time spent photographing?

This is a very interesting question. The line between being in, and photographing Nature, are blurred for me. I live on a beautiful acre in the Sierra Nevada foothills, and there is beauty all around me everyday. I count that as “being in Nature” and I observe Nature everyday. The actual time I photograph depends on inspiration, but it can be as little as one session a month. I am lucky that I can be in Yosemite Valley in about one hour, so if conditions are looking good, I can go photograph.

If photography did not exist, do you think you would have been a landscape painter?

Yes, or perhaps a graphic designer. I tried landscape painting once long ago, but it required more patience than I had then. Had photography not existed, perhaps I could have learned the patience and skills!

For a time, Ansel Adams studied to be a concert pianist, and he noted relationship between music and his photography. Does music play any role in influencing your artistic vision?

No, I am not a musician nor does music influence how I see photographically. I knew Ansel and appreciated how he metaphorically related music to the rhythm of tones in one of his prints. His famous quote about the negative being the score and the print is the performance still applies today with digital capture. A digital photograph is not complete until it is “performed” through post-processing and the finished print.

What other photographers work do you like?

Michael Kenna, Bret Weston, Paul Caponigro, Chris Rainier, Charlie Cramer, and Chris Burkett.

The digital workflow is more convenient, but do you notice anything has been lost in the film to digital transition?

I haven’t used film since 2005, and can’t think of anything that I miss. I am very glad that I used a 4×5 camera and film for twenty years. I was the best choice for me at the time, as is digital capture for me now.

To learn about his one-on-one workshops, ebooks (William Neill’s Yosemite, Meditations in Monochrome, Impressions of Light and Landscapes of the Spirit), PhotoBlog, and online courses with BetterPhoto.com, visit William Neill’s web site, WilliamNeill.com.

Image Credits: William Neil

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32 comments

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6:17PM PDT on Sep 23, 2010

This inspired me. I was trying to find the time to print my nature photography. I am putting it in beautiful frames and giving them as gifts.

4:10AM PDT on Sep 9, 2010

William Neil, does your art reflect the need for drastic change in ways of handling and preserving nature?
For instance preservation of the Gulf of Mexico from any further damage.
Or to stop the depletion of the world frog population.
That to me is putting art to action without being lost in the dynamic dramas of line form tone and texture found in some of the most endearing places for photograpy on earth.

1:10PM PDT on Sep 7, 2010

Beautiful photographs. Sometimes we don't get to visit these places or see them in a different light so it's good to have the photo's. I saw the Grand Canyon at sunrise and it was beautiful, but the colorful canyon soon went away as the sun rose.

4:34PM PDT on Sep 4, 2010

Wonderful photos, thanks. I hope his work can help get people involved in protecting Nature's beauty.

8:41PM PDT on Sep 1, 2010

beautiful photos, thanks

6:32PM PDT on Aug 30, 2010

I agree. Very beautiful photos.

11:03AM PDT on Aug 30, 2010

Incredible photos!

9:32AM PDT on Aug 30, 2010

wonderful photos, thanks.

3:36PM PDT on Aug 29, 2010

Beautiful. Thank you.

11:15PM PDT on Aug 28, 2010

Amazing and inspiring photographs

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