A forest on a drawing board is a series of photographs in three parts: white carbon prints, 3 layer coloured carbon prints and two black & white prints from digital negatives. The photographs are complemented with sketches and measurements. The project started as an investigation in the 'nature of forestry' but gradually the emphasis became the 'nature of photography' itself. By experimenting with the carbon printing technique I tried to find different ways to represent the image captured with my camera. I wanted to learn more about 'photorealism' and what that can mean.

The words that follow were written for the preface in the sketch book. I was inspired by the introduction of The Pencil from Nature, written by Henri Fox Tabot in 1844.

A forest on a drawing board: Introductory remarks.

The work in the pages that follow is an exposé of the proces of my photography that I have made my own while working on 'a forest reconstructed': a series of photos and prints of production forests in Finland, Sweden, Belgium and France. Planted for the paper and timber industry, some of these forests look natural, some less so, depending on the country in which they are found. The photographs were taken with a large format camera on 12x20 inch black and white negatives. It is an imprint of 'nature', just as she portrayed herself to the camera lens.

A forest on a drawing board is the second part of this project, a book with a series of drawings from the negatives that I shot in the summer of 2013. These drawings are complemented by a number of tables in which I have noted the distances from tree to tree and to the camera lens. Although the information in a photo is more complete and more detailed, my notes in the field enabled me to show where my attention was focused. Thanks to the small sketches and measurements that I had made of the trees, I was able to pinpoint which trees in the photos had first captured my imagination. My next step was to make full-size pencil drawings from my negatives. These drwaings, which I brought together in a book, were the guiding spirit for the printing of the negatives. In these I experimented with the use of colour and responded to the rythm of the trees, revealing a fresh reality.

The discoveries of Henry Fox Talbot and many others led to an extraordinary feeling of optimism. There was at last an instrument that could reduce human influence in producing an image. Now, more than 150 years later, photography can capture 'nature in a natural way'. But it is also an important medium for modifying 'nature in a natural way'. That is the power of persuasion of photography. But is was the tip of my pencil that conducted me through the landscape, noted what caught my attention and helped me to locate this later again.

 

A forest reconstructed (and Cette montagne) by Loring Knoblauch