Technological progression and the use of the camera in Environmental Photojournalism.

By Linley Bignoux

The positive use of technology can be seen in many applications worldwide, one can argue that the mobile phone has indeed reshaped how we communicate and how we have a device which can do many things, while also producing some negative aspects, such as sometimes short attention spans, people constantly playing with their phones in public places and spaces, people always looking at the phone etc and I could go on and on.

However, one positive effect that undoubtedly defines as being positive is the use of technology which can impact peoples perceptions and mindset more promptly or quickly, and this use of technology has been around for quite a while in its many forms, formats and configurations, the camera.

Yes, the camera is a marvel of technological advancement which I believe has had more of a positive impact on human society than negative. One aspect of any camera is now in the information age or the digital age is that images are instant its an instant medium, unlike the written word, any visual representation of something is quick and practical.

While many camera manufacturers have put a lot into the advanced options of cameras such as high megapixel and HDR(High Dynamic Range), Bluetooth, high ISO sensitivity, etc etc, these to me have been more gimmick and gadget society driven, although they are important, in my view many options in cameras nowadays are superficial and not as practical as it may seem, however, the consumer wins on overall options, and of course if you like those things in a camera, then they go for it.

That leads me to the use of photography as both a force for change and to shape perceptions amongst many other things, specifically the use of photography within the photographic genre of photojournalism as a way to utilize visual storytelling on the natural environment, or more commonly known as environmental photojournalism.

Now we dig deeper into the realm or genre of environmental photojournalism as a tool and/or visual representation of the stories, people, places and situations of the natural world, with sometimes minimalist styles of writing and sometimes not, but with a whole host of images that tell a story or what is more commonly referred to as picture stories.

Of course, this not always the case, but environmental photojournalism is where the environment meets photojournalism, depicting stories via photography and minimal writing to convey some of the positive and negative aspects and impacts on our natural world.

Indeed this is a good use of technology via the genre of environmental photojournalism, wisely used to convey, capture and sometimes encapsulate what we see in the natural world and the environment and contemporary environmental issues and problems via the use of the camera or photographic technologies.

We can with a camera capture the process of human technological advancement which has come at an inconceivable and unwarranted cost to the aquatic environments worldwide since the industrial revolution which has brought with it immense technological change for humans and the planet.

With an increasing human population and the advent of technological advancement of many industrial, commercial and retail domains have put environmental stress and impacts that over the last 150 years or so would not have figured in one’s imagination.

Similarly, the camera has been around to catch and record the events since the industrial revolution and along with it, many photographers were capturing technological advancement on land and to later extent underwater since that bygone era.

While over the years this has been detrimental, as a whole the speed at which environmental impacts are happening is alarming, to say the least, and again from an environmental photojournalism perspective camera technology and photographers will continue to capture and transmit information to the masses on how environmental impacts have changed and shaped our world, just as much as how photography has captured time

One aspect as a photographer I have tied to capture and convey and that I feel people need to understand or consciously be aware of is that human migration or patterns to coastal areas worldwide are quite large, with already damaged or unbalanced coastal ecosystems this compounds the issue further.

The large amounts of industrial waste, sewage and rainwater runoff enter our oceans by the tonnes daily. This is multiplied by the fact by pesticides in rainwater runoff and the sheer amount of pollutants and chemicals that runoff from the streets of the world into the complex and myriad sewage systems that end up in our oceans.

The real estate development of coastal areas is another issue, whether it be residential or commercial, this is a major issue that is found globally which contributes to underwater ecosystem demise and frequent problems associated to development in our around wetland areas which effectively act as filters for water runoff,

They provide a haven or nursery ground for small fish due to the overall diversity which in turn supports local fisherman and fisheries development.

These wetlands renew fisheries stock, as time goes on adult fish in the ocean are replaced by the younger fish in wetland areas, this is an important aspect to cover in environmental photojournalism.

The use of our technology and preceding technological advancement will be a game-changer for humans now and in the future, and I believe the more environmental impacts on our nature are covered by photographers and environmental photojournalists the wiser in this world.

Technological advancement has created conditions that humans have directly or indirectly affected our oceans and/or oceanic ecosystems. Consequently, the logical or common sense approach here is to use technology positively with a camera to capture the effects of human impact is paramount in ensuring we lower environmental impacts by communicating via the instantaneity of visuals, the photograph.

We need to consider how even in the far-flung areas of our ocean surface and depths we have affected it, whilst considering that most populations live near or around coastal areas and zones where it has impacted the most, even if proximity or distance is measured to within 150 km to 200 km inland, from those distances the ocean is still affected.

This comes even more evident and alarming as people flock from inland areas to coastal areas globally every day as holidaymakers or vacation periods clearly illustrate.

The rapid and further talk on the so-called “blue economy” for the purposes of commercial operations such as oceanic mining or nuclear waste disposal is controversial if not a contentious issue, we need to be mindful of our actions on the wide use of technology.

Fundamentally we need to understand how our oceans work to fully grasp how technology will affect us in the present to the future, the role of environmental photojournalists are important as the years and days go by, capture the essence of our natural world and where photography as medium intersects with humans impacts.

The frivolous and increasing impacts we are having on our oceanic and terrestrial need to be portrayed, the stories need to be told and communicated to a wider audience via the use of positive technology in the camera.

This increasing demand on our planet ocean needs to be stemmed or more properly regulated to reflect more conveniently how we assess and evaluate our actions towards the aquatic world, and it not better time have we seen the democratization of photography, where everyone is a photographer, they can lead a hand as well to capturing the natural world just as much as environmental photojournalist do.

the genre of environmental photojournalism will continue with the positive advancement photographer and camera to capture and convey humans impact on the natural world in which we are a part of.

The use of the camera as a tool to highlight the world and explain it in a way which is transmitted or communicated fast has been one of the hallmarks of photography and it is this use in environmental photojournalism and photojournalism as a whole which is so important.

.One of the hallmarks of photography since the invention of the camera is capturing an image is forever, it is frozen in time by photographic device.

The very essence of photography and that of photojournalism and environmental photojournalism is that it is built upon the foundation that every image tells us a story, either consciously or subconsciously, it is up top the integration of the viewer as well, images are fast and instant showing the world how it is at a particular juncture in time and space.

environmental photojournalism is useful here, drawing upon the very foundations of what I have just described and considering the importance of some of the issues we face as humans, the veracity and scope of what we face, environmental photojournalism is giving us an insight on the pressing situation humans are facing.

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