Fine Art Photography | Water Metamorphoses

Biography | Photographic Aspects

Biography Uwe Larsen

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I was fortunate to grow up in a small rural village in the foothills of the northern Alps in Bavaria near the beautiful Lake Chiemsee. The village is surrounded by stunning nature,-mountains, moors, forests, lakes, creeks and meadows full of wildflowers and butterflies…

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Both parents were amateur photographers and nature lovers starting photography already in the early 20th century. As a young boy I enjoyed the photos they had taken, collected in many albums. I was especially impressed by the stereoscopic glass-slides which my father took with a Carl Zeiss Ica stereoscopic camera during and after the First World War. In viewing through a binocular-type device I saw the photos in 3 D! My fascination for photography was born!

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Another fascination was born at the same time: The beauty and magic of window frost which I sometimes discovered on the single-pane window in our unheated bathroom. Questions came up: how and why do they grow, what is the secret power behind it, why are they beautiful and look like ferns and flowers, who is the artist…?

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When I turned 14 my mother presented me her Zeiss 6x9 box-camera. In the early 50 ies the black and white films were rather expensive for a teenager who earned his pocket money by guarding cows! So I learned early not to spoil the expensive films and to think twice if it would be worth to take a picture and how to set the camera for a good shot.

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The first 24x36 camera which I bought 1959 from my own earned money was a Voigtländer Vito BL. It was excellent for the outdoor excursions since it was very handy. The next step in developing more photographic skills was with the Pentax Spotmatic SLR camera equipped with a variety of lenses including an excellent macro.

This opened a totally different world of close-up nature photography from butterflies to details of flowers and structures of leafs.

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In those years I started my career as nature photographer with focus on landscapes (Alps, North America, Sahara), animals (butterflies, dragonflies, birds), wildflowers (alpine flowers, meadows, moors, wild orchids) and patterns in nature. The photos were published in books and magazines. I was also interested to give slide-presentations with the focus on landscapes, biodiversity and the protection of endangered nature. My intention was and still is to use photography as a vehicle to help people reconnect or strengthen their bond with nature and to promote engagement for regional conservancy activities and also for global one’s like the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
For my nature photography I was especially inspired by the work of the painter Franz Marc, photographers like Andreas Feininger, Anselm Adams, Eliot Porter, W. Bentley, Karl Blossfeldt and the work of Ernst Haeckel. In the sense how to look at nature and to protect it,- and in the sense that each and every living being, non-living things and physical phenomena like the rainbow, the magical blue of the sky, the metamorphosis of water reveal the mystery of the creation,- ideas and stimulus came from Goethe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Chief Seattle, Michel Serres and last but not least from my mother.

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I lived several years in the U.S. and travelled often to many of its natural wonders. Those were inspiring years for a nature photographer in a country where nature shows its incredible grandeur, beauty and diversity.

During all the years of photography with different types of cameras, especially the Contax 137 MA Quartz with Zeiss lenses and digital Nikon and Olympus cameras, my focus was the photography of patterns, structures, forms and colours in nature: nature’s design.

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On one hand nature’s design with its elegance, beauty and incredible diversity is full of secrets,- on the other hand nature is based upon certain patterns, forms and structures. When looking at an ice structure and a calypso orchid it is fascinating to realize that there are magical commonalities in design.
Over more than 30 years I was in search to find those basic principles of nature’s design which reveal that nature is not only a great engineer but most of all an outstanding artist. In photographing nature’s design,- be it a landscape, tree, wildflower meadow, butterfly or the metamorphosis of water,- I feel to be a part of nature where the birds are brothers and sisters as Francis from Assisi had expressed it so wonderful. With the photographs I try to convey the intimate detail and abstract quality of the natural world. All photographs are works of art by nature as artist performed by me as scout and craftsman celebrating the wonders of nature.

© All images copyright Uwe Larsen except first image „Der Chiemsee“ by P. von Hess.