While nature has a permanent presence in our lives, the way it presents itself to us changes from day to day, from moment to moment. For Chiara Zonca, the challenge — and the thrill — is to move in sync with the natural world, and capture it just as quickly.
Words and Photography by Chiara Zonca
The weather has been a little bit difficult in British Columbia lately. The region where I live is infamous for its gloomy, overcast and rainy climate. Winter has been a succession of grays and dark blues, a season of muted introspection.
Over the course of the past few months, I have been quietly working on my latest photographic series shot in this neck of the woods, which I am hoping to release next year. Accustomed to the neutral colors of the forest and the dark green of moss and ferns, I was mainly working with a tripod and a slow shutter speed throughout the winter, to maximize the light in my scene and achieve a somewhat painterly look.
Yesterday, however, the sun broke through my garden like vibrant lightning, casting a new bold and playful light on the forest. It felt incredibly energizing to witness such a sudden change in an extremely familiar environment. I knew it was the perfect time to take my camera outside and document this moment of fleeting beauty. For this shoot, my goal was to photograph my garden in an unusual way — to essentially create the world that exists in my head, not in the landscape.
“I needed to move quicker, capturing each change in shade and color as the elusive sun dipped in and out.”
Using the sharp contrast of the sun to my advantage, I quickly focused on documenting details where the light would hit the foliage so as to create the most unique and interesting color combinations.
I ditched the tripod for this shoot because I needed to move quicker, capturing each change in shade and color as the elusive sun dipped in and out through trees and clouds. Instead, I hooked my cameras to my new and incredibly sturdy Urth Core Camera Strap, taking advantage of the quick plug-in and pull-out clip system to swiftly change from digital to 35mm film while chasing the fading glow in my scene.
“Chasing great light in a natural setting I cannot fully control is still one of the biggest thrills in my practice.”
The change of pace felt very much in sync with the changing season, it was fast, instinctive and fun. The camera strap was also a great ally in helping me capture the ever-evolving lighting conditions and a definite must-have for the glorious summer season about to begin.
It may sound obvious but chasing great light in a natural setting I cannot fully control is still one of the biggest thrills in my practice. Light — or lack thereof — deeply influences me and it felt great to chase it for even a split fleeting moment.