raised in a northern mining town in ontario, canada, i experienced the contrast of stark rugged landscapes stripped by mine operations and pristine old growth forests, of eerie blue lakes deadened by acid rain fallout from the mine smelter stacks and green lakes filled with the promise of dinner.

this land was heaved up from the earth’s core and settled by sediment – islands of red granite shot through with veins of black granite and gleaming quartz in streams of pocked limestone. spruce, cedar, and junipers – hundreds of years old perched on cliffs with only the promise of tomorrows rain. the land’s ghosts travel on the winds and lodge in the valleys, gorges, and crevasses, revealing history to those with eyes to see it.

this land has been and continues to be my inspiration, though today i live on a farm hundreds of kilometres to the south. human altered landscapes and the remnants of those who came before are my subject matter. 

the land around the farm where i live still has a beautiful rough feel to it – small fields, old hedgerows, rock outcrops – though this is changing. there is a slow but steady loss of diversity as farm fields are expanded to accommodate larger equipment. family farms give way to large holdings and those who work the land do so from the cabs of tractors and may not live on the land they work. old farmsteads stand vacant, fall to ruin. old growth trees survive by chance and are a wonder to behold. with my lens, i hope to capture the remnants, the spirit, and share the beauty of this landscape.

as a child, i was taught about the living rocks and the expressions of trees, that their energies are a collection of stories presented over time. if one can be still enough the stories of the earth will reveal themselves. 

movement and contrasting light have always been of interest to me. riding in the back seat of my parent’s car as a child, forehead against the window,  i would drift into a trance and watch light collide with trees or squint through tears to create optical illusions. it was only a matter of time before the camera found me. 

my technique utilizes intentional camera movement (icm) which results in an image that has movement embedded in it.  this movement, or blur, creates a space where viewers can install their own narrative. additionally,  i prefer to work in monochrome, as i find the narrative quality more accessible in the basic contrast of dark and light. the manual settings and movements i use also impart a charcoal drawing feel to the photography.

nicholas x bent