Is it a photograph of a painting? A painting of a photograph? Something else entirely?
Artist Daniel Kukla has created an innovative photography series called “The Edge Effect” to capture the unique natural environments of California’s Joshua Tree National Park:
Using nothing more than an easel and a large mirror, Kukla has managed to capture nature as it really is, but with an artist’s eye. At first glance, photographs from the series look like someone has been painting en plein air—with highly photorealistic results. Or maybe it’s a tack-sharp photographic print set up in its natural environment. However, the easel actually holds a square mirror that reflects the ever-changing desert environments of the national park.
On his website, Kukla explains the motivation behind the series, which unites his background in the sciences with his passion for photography:
In March of 2012, I lived in a cabin for a month within southern California’s Joshua Tree National Park. While staying in the Park, I spent much of my time visiting the borderlands of the park and the areas where the low Sonoran desert meets the high Mojave desert. While hiking and driving, I caught glimpses of the border space created by the meeting of distinct ecosystems in juxtaposition, referred to as the Edge Effect in the ecological sciences. To document this unique confluence of terrains, I hiked out a large mirror and painter’s easel into the wilderness and captured opposing elements within the environment. Using a single visual plane, this series of images unifies the play of temporal phenomena, contrasts of color and texture, and natural interactions of the environment itself.
You can see the rest of the photographs from the series here.