Hand of Man in Nature Photography

Hand of man scene. Mount Monroe with Mount Washington in the background from the Appalachian Trail in Sargent's Purchase, New Hampshire.
Mount Monroe – White Mountains, New Hampshire
 

Hand of Man in Nature Photography – Last week I wrote about how some photographers believe that a true landscape or nature scene is a scene that is absent of all human elements. The scene itself showcases the pure beauty of nature. Well, the opposite of the pure nature scene is the hand of man scene, which includes human elements. Can you see the human element in the above scene?

I prefer to create images that include the hand of man only because they show the interaction we have with the environment. When some people hear the “hand of man” they think of the negative impact that we are doing to the environment. But in photography, the hand of man scene is not always focused on negative impact.

Scree wall along the Appalachian Trail (Franconia Ridge Trail) on the summit of Little Haystack Mountain in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Scree walls are built on the edge of trails to discourage hikers from going off trail.
Franconia Ridge Trail – Little Haystack Mountain, New Hampshire
 

The photo above shows an example of a positive hand of man scene. Over the years, trail crews have put in hundreds of hours to build scree walls along the edge of the Franconia Ridge Trail. The purpose of these simple, but effective, walls is to keep hikers within the trail corridor. And this helps tremendously in conserving the fragile alpine environment that is on the sides of the trail.

A hiker on the side of the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River in the Pemigewasset Wilderness in Lincoln, New Hampshire.
East Branch of the Pewmi River – Pemigewasset Wilderness, New Hampshire
 

For the above photo, I wanted to create an image that showcased the freedom and serenity the Pemigewasset Wilderness offers. It is a very simple scene, but it works. Without the hiker, there is no human element, and this would be considered a pure landscape scene. But in its pure natural state, it would not have promoted the serenity of the Pemigewasset Wilderness. When using photography to create awareness for the environment, the hand of man scene works.

You can license the above images for usage in publications by clicking on the image you are interested in. And you can view more landscape and nature scenes of the White Mountains that include the hand of man here.

Happy image making..


 

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Erin Paul is a professional photographer who specializes in the environment and historic preservation of New Hampshire. His work is published worldwide, and credits include; Backpacker Magazine, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and The Wilderness Society. His blog articles are intended to create awareness for historic preservation and land conservation.

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