As I mentioned in my post of February 9, I am a scientist by training, and that influences my approach to photography. As a scientist, I am drawn to the observable, to the interesting, to the quantifiable in life. My photography is usually an effort to capture the image before me in as realistic a manner as possible. But clearly, realism is in the eye of the beholder.
Today's photo touches on the concept of realism and deals with the question of the boundary between humans and nature. Are humans part of nature? That question has been argued for millennia. Western thought, philosophy and religion has traditionally seen humans as standing apart from nature, and even dominating it, while Eastern thinking tends to integrate humans into nature.
This tendency of Western cultures draws a clear line between nature and humans, much like the fence in today's photograph. But like the fence, that line is prone to deterioration. And as is clear from the photo, nature doesn't necessarily respect the line that humans want to draw. Nature imposes its "rule" on humans as much as on any other species that has ever inhabited planet Earth.
The other problem with our artificial line is that it doesn't prevent humans from imposing themselves on nature. It is a sad fact that much of the plant-life in California has been replaced by species that have been brought here by humans. Except for the oak trees in the distance, there are probably few native plant species seen in this photo. Even the "nature" that has moved across the boundary of the fence is primarily composed of non-native species.
By replacing the components of an ecosystem, whether intentionally or unintentionally, we change the functioning of the ecosystem in ways that may be unpredictable and detrimental. In some cases the basic services provided by the ecosystem are still tolerably the same, but in other cases we see severe degradation of these services.
Humans are now conducting an enormous uncontrolled experiment with planet Earth. The influence of over 7 billion humans with all their demands for resources is changing some critical parameters of the planet. Among these are the increase in carbon dioxide resulting from the combustion of fossil fuels, and the associated acidification of the ocean as more of that carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere.
Both of these changes are clear indications that humans do have the capacity to modify the planet, and it is my opinion that with that capacity comes the responsibility to act in a manner that will prevent our actions from having harmful influences on the planet and future generations.
This photo was taken in the Santa Ynez Valley in April of 2012. It was taken with a Canon 10D dSLR with an EF 17-40mm lens set at 40mm, with a shutter speed of 1/45 sec at f/9.5 at ISO 100.