A photograph can say more than a thousand words put together, and nowhere is that more true than in photographs of nature. With a single image, one can convey the infinite complexities of snowflakes up close, the watery beauty of the ocean, and all its myriad wildlife, or the slowly unfolding drama of an encroaching wildfire on a grand scale. Nature photography can help to educate, inspire, and change minds, but it can also serve as a vehicle offering a poetic eye on the majesty of the natural world.
In this imaginative series featuring trees painted with light, Barcelona-based Brazilian photographer Vitor Schietti offers another view into the trees that populate his hometown, Brasilia, as well as those of the Brazilian central plateau, which is characterized by a type of savannah-like landscape known locally as cerrado.
Schietti say about this series of illuminated trees:
“Captur[es] life’s impermanency and its pulsating energy… at [its] core. It relates to something prior to life itself, rather an impulse, a primordial force, one that penetrates and emanates from everything, living and seemingly non-living beings. It illustrates an invisible force that will endure even after we return to dust, like the sterile soil of the Moon.”
Titled “Impermanent Structures,” the ongoing photographic project is the outgrowth from years of research into long exposure photography, light painting, and the use of neutral density (ND) filters, a type of camera add-on that acts to block light in a neutral way without affecting the color of the light.
To achieve these gorgeous final effects where each tree seems to be awash with shimmering filaments of light, Schietti uses a combination of long exposure photography and small fireworks used carefully.
In addition, while some images are composed of only one photo, some in the series are in fact created by the overlaying and combination of multiple post-processed images into one.
In each photo, Schietti attempts to find a visual balance between the twilight settling in, and the brightness of the fireworks. Only a handful of attempts are possible each day, as the window for that perfect light of the dusk is only 30 to 50 minutes long.
Schietti explains that this artistic yet technical process helps to bring the unseen dimensions of energy and light into view:
“To paint with light in a three-dimensional space is to bring one’s thoughts from unconscious realms into existence, only visible as presented through long exposure photography.”
Some of these light-painted tree photographs were shot in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, which is famous for as a planned city conceived by Brazilian modernist architects, engineers, and urban planners Oscar Niemeyer, Joaquim Cardozo, and Lúcio Costa.
While Brasilia’s monumental, modernist, and utopian vision is something architects and urban planners continue to study and debate, Schietti chose to focus on creatively portraying the abundance of trees in this manicured city. It’s this abundance of arboreal life that is what makes Brasilia special, says Schietti:
“Trees [are] everywhere, often integrated with the genius architecture of Oscar Niemeyer. Climbing trees, resting on their shades, listening to birds and cicadas that populate them, and gazing at their beauty are common activities to the city’s inhabitants. [The Impermanent Structures series] appreciat[es] their hidden expressions… imagining the life force that pulsates and emanates from them, maybe a little less ordinary.”
Besides his love for trees, Schietti is also a vegan activist who recently launched The Vegan Utopia, a website that brings together thought-provoking educational and artistic content based on the vegan philosophy.