Alberta Photographer Intensifies Landscape Images by Adding the Human Element


All photographs by and used with expressed permission from Paul Zizka.

Award-winning photographer and cinematographer Paul Zizka of Banff, Alberta has a knack for turning landscape scenes into epic paintings of light. His creations, specifically the nighttime ones, are full of dynamism and color. He expertly captures the blues, greens, yellows, and even purples of light, both natural and manmade; and the gloriousness of the landscapes themselves, dressed in crawling fog, sweeping clouds, star trails, or the occasional lone boulder, making his images possibly even more inviting than the actually scenes.

Other times, Zizka, who just released his first book, Summits and Starlight, would intensify his impressive shots simply by adding a human aspect to them, strategically putting in a silhouette of a person (most of the time, Zizka himself) in the foreground with a headlight on his head, either perched atop a rock or standing waist-deep in a lake, looking at the scene before him as if in awe. And the cyber world, albeit unwittingly presenting them as elaborate or redefined “selfies”, has zeroed in on those images particularly. And for good reason. But it wasn’t at all premeditated, mind you. As he explains,

“I did not set out with the intention to create a cohesive set of images. I just find that sometimes including a person in a night scene adds to the photograph. Sometimes the images are visualized before heading out – I know what I want to do and it is a matter of waiting for the proper conditions to make the photograph happen. Most though are thought of upon arrival, when I am able to see what the night sky will give me to work with at a given location. I decided then if the image might benefit from the inclusion of a human element. Sometimes the person (me since I’m nearly always alone) ends up in the image to convey a sense of vulnerability, or a sense of belonging, or to make the image more relatable. Sometimes I only end up in the shot to solve compositional issues.”

Whatever his original intention was, there’s no denying that it’s a genius move. Somehow, the silhouettes not only provide an element of polarity, a contrast between man and nature, but also a feeling of triumph in the photos, as if the anonymous person in the foreground has just conquered nature and now he’s reaping his rewards.

See Zizka’s awesome collection after the jump.














Twilight Standoff



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