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Hidden Hills – The Leica digicam Weblog


Geared up with a Leica SL, Cornelia Thonhauser took pictures within the Sonoran Desert in southern California. Haunting, evocative and filled with mystique, her long-term mission, Hidden Hills, paperwork the misplaced spirituality of this place. On this interview, she explains how she managed within the excessive warmth; and the way, when working with a wide-angle lens, you have to be cautious of the mud, and in addition of snakes.

How did you give you the concept for Hidden Hills?
This mission developed very organically, over time. For the reason that first time I used to be within the Sonoran Desert, I used to be impressed by the various particulars of this ecstatic panorama, together with its colors and, in fact, the sunshine. Every little thing seems very archaic and mystical; and there’s a explicit environment of warmth, dying and decay. There are situations the place this pristine nature encounters the artificially idyllic idea of the trendy suburb with its gated communities. They appear to rejoice their very own (escape) mythology: a frivolous type of survival on this probably deadly paradise. Each worlds had been very inspiring for my spirit and my eyes.

How did you begin engaged on the mission?
Initially I merely took photos. I drove round all day, gathering after which staging many objects I discovered in nature. It was a part of fascination and openness; I didn’t but know what I used to be trying to find. Over time, this course of, in addition to the analysis I used to be doing for the work, grew to become extra focused. Photographically talking, I more and more turned extra in direction of nature, which is one thing I proceed to pursue intensively. A photograph guide titled Hidden Hills has been put collectively, and it consists of the primary a part of my work within the desert. It was developed along with Studio Final in Berlin, and hopefully will seem this yr.

What’s it concerning the Sonoran Desert that makes it such a particular place?
For me, the religious environment is linked with the cultural heritage of the indigenous peoples of the Sonoran panorama. Nature right here usually feels as if it’s charged: it’s a stretch of land that has been inhabited by the Native American folks for 1000’s of years; the place mountains and animals had been honoured with ceremonies. Sadly, this dimension has pale rather a lot at present. In distinction to NYC or L.A., right here in Arizona I felt a sure break up in American society and cultural growth for the primary time; a sure lack of roots. Photographing in nature was and is for me a want to specific a form of misplaced spirituality.

What impressed you most?
The sunshine, the colors, the sky, the fascinating strategy of decomposition of cacti. Additionally, in fact, the acute primitiveness of the panorama, paired with capitalistic extra and the uncooked cowboy mentality.

In your mission description, you point out an artificially-created Arcadia…
There are numerous locations there – non-public housing estates and streets – with ‘magical’ names, corresponding to Paradise Valley, Mirage Mountain, and Desert Orchid, simply to say a number of. They instantly evoke concepts like a form of movie script, an escapism. As well as, these locations are adorned with a number of fountains, synthetic lakes and waterways, making the settings appear like staged oases. When you take into account the historical past of this space and the Gila River, the sight is considerably uncomfortable. Within the nineteenth century, European settlers redirected the waters of the river, reducing off the Pima and Maricopa tribal settlements from their elixir of life. As a consequence, their lengthy and profitable agriculture and buying and selling buildings had been largely worn out, and so they had been left behind in a dry valley.

Which digicam and lenses did you’re employed with and the way did you handle with the gear?
With the Leica SL and primarily the zoom lens. The Leica SL is a good digicam. Although it’s heavier and bigger than the cameras I usually use, it was nonetheless very straightforward to work with; and I all the time discovered it very particular to look via the viewfinder. Moreover, the digicam has a robust presence, and folks usually requested me about it. It conveys a sense of significance and respect in regard to images and its historical past.

Technically-speaking, had been there any tough conditions?
Bodily-speaking, the warmth is all the time a problem and, in fact, calls for rather a lot from the gear. The mud additionally implies that it’s important to take numerous care of the sensor, particularly when altering lenses open air. Nevertheless, so long as you take note of that, and in addition don’t step on snakes or Cholla cacti, then every little thing works very well.

Your photos seem very mystical – did you {photograph} at a specific time of day?
I {photograph} at each doable time of day, however it’s true that I choose the night hours. Specifically, the transient time simply after sundown, when every little thing is bathed in a blue glow, and most of the cacti, with their fantastic thorns, seem very comfortable. There’s a complete chapter in my guide that comprises solely this particular night and night time time environment.

Is there one thing explicit you need your photos to evoke within the viewer?
A deeper manner of nature and its particulars. And I additionally need this work to determine a connection to a different social dimension.

What traits ought to a photographer have?
After all, it will depend on the work strategy and the topic; however it’s best to like and be prepared to maneuver round rather a lot in your ft. It’s solely while you stroll that you simply uncover the world and its nuances. You additionally want openness, to take pleasure in experimenting, and, above all, to have endurance.

How would you describe your photographic strategy?
Initially there’s an concept, after which I simply begin experimenting. I’m going on a visible search. At this level I’m very open, and check out rather a lot with the digicam, with supplies, and in addition with the colors of the primary edit of the images. I used to {photograph} much more; however, with time, I’ve grow to be extra focused, and I additionally do extra analysis. Within the subsequent part, I do a extra exact edit and I give the images a sure look. That is the place I usually uncover visible surprises, which I couldn’t have imagined earlier than. That, in flip, evokes me to seek out extra photos; to fill the collection with no matter remains to be ‘lacking’. For Hidden Hills, I took some supplementary images, whereas I used to be modifying the guide. Modifying calls for probably the most time and sometimes presents the largest challenges. It’s a very sluggish course of; but additionally very fulfilling, because the work begins to take form and the superfluous falls away. And the testing of papers and the printing have additionally grow to be essential and require numerous consideration.

What evokes you?
Studying rather a lot, picture books, movies, gentle and color. But, inspiration is available in all types of moments. I like to see and hearken to issues. I give myself numerous area in my life.

Please full the sentence: Pictures is…
…my manner of transferring round on the earth, and connecting with folks. At instances it’s therapeutic.

Cornelia Thonhauser was born in Vienna. She is an interdisciplinary artist, whose work oscillates between images, video and multimedia tasks. She has an MA in Historical past of Artwork from the UCL London, and studied Pictures on the Academy of Effective Arts in Leipzig. Her photos and movie work for style and multimedia performances have appeared worldwide in magazines, galleries and at SoundArt festivals. The primary theme of her photographic work is the desert within the American West, which she sees as a supply of geological and anthropological exploration. Hidden Hills, her first guide devoted to this work, will seem in 2021. Discover out extra about her images on her website and Instagram channel.

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