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Bjorn Rorslett Interview #35467
06/13/11 12:44 AM
06/13/11 12:44 AM
Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey Offline OP
James Morrissey  Offline OP
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
NWP Photo Forum Interview with Bjorn Rorslet

This interview was lost during our forum migration. It is now being republished and posted in our "Interviews" Forum.

Astronomy Domain (visible) (c) Bjorn Rorslett

Re: NWP Interview - Bjorn Rorslett [Re: James Morrissey] #35468
06/13/11 12:50 AM
06/13/11 12:50 AM
Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey Offline OP
James Morrissey  Offline OP
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
Part I:
The Nature, Wildlife and Pet Photography Forum
Artist Showcase: Bjorn Rorslett
by James Morrissey

Part I: About Bjorn Rorslett

Eye of Evil (IR) (c) Bjorn Rorslett

Editor's Note: A link is at the end of the page if you wish to learn more about Dr. Bjorn Rorslett and his techniques in Ultraviolet and Infrared photography.

JM: Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
BR: I was born in Stockholm, Sweden, July 11, 1946. My mother was Swedish. She married my father, a Norwegian, who had fled from Nazi-occupied Norway in the early years of World War II. We returned to Norway in 1947 and settled near Oslo. Eventually I had two brothers and a sister.

JM: What was your family like growing up?
BR: My father, a teacher of English by education, was a devoted Socialist and had strong political commitments. He was Subeditor and later appointed Editor of a major national news and feature magazine. The magazine, unprecedented for its time, ran copiously illustrated articles. Politics aside, it was quite similar to LIFE, but on a smaller scale of course. So, he always had photographs to be engrossed in and did a number of photojournalistic assignments himself. Some of his enthusiasm might have spilled over to me. He did several articles on the Eastern Bloc and travelled quite a lot in Eastern European countries in connection with these articles, so he got branded as a Communist sympathizer. In the heated paranoid political climate of the McCarthy influenced 1950's, he and with him the entire family, suffered from this.

I attended Elementary School at this time and suddenly had to defend myself from harsh attacks from pupils, teachers, and other parents. All of this made me aware of the importance of getting factual insights into a given issue, drawing one's own conclusions, and then be willing to represent and defend a belief or attitude, not withstanding its lack of popularity. The political frenzy of that decade may well
have destroyed our family's relationship to many people and adversely impacted our social life, but I for one was taught to be independent, strong, and mature from this political tragedy. It also put me firmly and permanently on the left-wing side of Norwegian politics.

During adolescence I became increasingly and deeply engaged with biological and enviromental subjects, meandering between astronomy, chemistry, rocket science, ecology, geology, and mathemathics, before I finally decided I wanted to be a botanist. This occured at an age of 15 years and set a life-long direction for my professional activities.

JM: What does your family look like now?
BR: My father died abruptly in 1981, and the family broke up shortly afterwards. Probably we were too strong natured, too individualistic to function properly as a group when his cohesive influence disappeared. Perhaps it was like the Balkan countries when Tito died leading to the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Well, anyway we avoided family wars and later became friends again, when time had
mellowed the break-up.

I was married by then and had a daughter and a son. My son, from birth, developed severe asthma and allergic reactions. I spent years with him in hospitals during the 1980's. A few years later, I was inflicted with the same syndromes myself. All of this strained my own marriage and I was divorced in 1993. My former wife died a few years later and I now try to do my best to keep my little family afloat.

Spring Stars (UV) (c) Bjorn Rorslett

JM: When did you begin to take photographs?

BR: My father had a deep interest in photography himself. He gave me a Contax II rangefinder, a [piece of] WWII loot obtained by him from a German officer, when I was about 12 years old. I had that camera for a good many years afterwards. I can still remember how my father and I rearranged our kitchen to provide us with a workable darkroom. This had a certain flair of suspense and mystery about it because we had to do this at night hours, when the rest of the family was asleep. Watching my prints appear in the developing bath was but a fulfilment of all this suspense.

As a young and poor student, I won a large sum of money in the nation's lottery in the mid 1960's, and accordingly, availed myself of the opportunity to purchase a complete line-up of several new-fangled Nikon F bodies with motor drives and sundry lenses. My co-students were green with envy, of course, but I for one didn't pay attention to this because I started to spend all my spare time, and more, outdoors shooting mainly biological subjects. After all, at that time my main interest was botany. It was to record botanical subjects that all my precious new gear was pressed into service. I soon realized that despite all my sophisticated equipment, nothing of photographic
value emerged unless I personally got involved in my subjects. Getting the technological foundation to make perfectly exposed photographs was easy, but amounted to nothing on its own. I simply had to commit myself, to express feelings about what I was undertaking.

JM: Have you had the same ability to share your photographic knowledge with your children that your father did with you?
BR: I have tried, yes, and wish that whatever interest I've instilled that it may someday come to fruition. However, they both have chosen to follow different courses in their lives and so it must be.

JM: What was your photographic education like?
BR: I did a few courses in scientific photography when I studied at the University of Oslo, otherwise, I'm entirely self-taught.

JM: Who are/were your photographic influences?
BR: The Nordic countries have had a long tradition in fostering excellent nature photographers, and I'm of course influenced by all of them. Much of Nordic nature photography deals with light, in particular, the soft and fading light found in the long periods of dusk and dawn during summer, or the half-light during winter. The penchant for blue, moody images runs through the very blood veins of all Nordic

Besides the Nordic photographers, too many to list here, I also have been deeply emotionally touched by many European, some American and Japanese photographers. Again there are so many that name-dropping seems out of order, but if only a few should be mentioned, I'd like to draw attention to Jacob Holdt and his American Pictures, which simply is incredible. Bill Brandt and Duane Michaels need not my attention, hough they have gotten it. Ansel Adams won't get it. And so it goes.

JM: I agree with you about Jacob Holdt. The man is a spectacular artist. I have an autographed copy of American Pictures from a tour he made to the States in the early 1990s. It is interesting to me that you site him as an influence, yet American Pictures is not about nature photography as we normally see it - but human nature.

BR: In order to understand Nature, we should gain insight into our own species and its specifics. The importance of American Pictures is that it showed the difference between what we *think* should exist, and what is beneath the surface, if only we open our eyes to reality. Still, it is not about despair and disgrace, but about hope, dignity and passion.

Echo Trap (IR) (c) Bjorn Rorslett

JM: Is photography a first profession for you, or did you come here via a different route?

BR: It is not a first profession, but the logical fruition of all areas of importance to me coming together as an entirety. I studied biology, computer science, statistics, chemistry, and geology at the University of Oslo, Norway, and continued after some years when I scraped along as a free-lance computer programmer, to do my Ph.D. in Environmental Impact Assessment at the University of Lund, Sweden. While I finalized my Ph.D., I had already begun working as a researcher at Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) in Oslo, dealing mainly with underwater light climates, aquatic macrophytes and limnological botany with emphasis on environmental impact studies. I held that position for more than twenty years and ended my career there as a Senior Research Scientist in 2001, when I retired to concentrate full-time on Photography. However, I also did part-time Nature Photography while working at NIVA and had signed up with Samfoto, a major stock agency in Oslo. Sales through Samfoto had picked up very well when I retired from my scientific daytime job, so I felt quite confident with regards to the future. During the 1990's I had run a number of workshops for budding nature photographers, and because of my early commitment to digital photography and being trained as a computer programmer, I had a head start on other fellow photographers and was able to set up workshops for the coming digital era.

JM: Besides nature photography, what other types of photographic work have you done?
BR: I've tried most, but it is photography in nature which I constantly return to and feel comfortable with.

JM: How and when did you become interested in IR and UV photography? What is it about these forms of the art that interest you?
BR: IR photography initially was one useful tool for my earlier environmental studies. I did a lot of aerial IR surveillance in the first years, on missions flown with small aircrafts. Eventually we moved on to commercial IR surveillance and multispectral imaging from satellites, both of which at that time were very exotic and cutting-edge approaches. This was partly because you could have the images from a computer tape instead of film, and partly due to the fact that this kind of imaging recorded patterns of the subject invisible to the human eye.

In conjunction with the aerial surveillance stuff, I initiated long-term monitoring studes on aquatic biology using underwater stereo photography. We designed and built our own devices for the task, and again, this approach was considered quite exotic. I became interested in UV photography in 1991, after reading several papers on bees and their different spectral range of visual perception. Accordingly, I purchased a UV-Nikkor lens and UV flash, and set out to master the technological difficulties of this
field of photography. Later on, when I went fully digital in 1999, I realised that I had an instrument to my disposal which could convey seemingly disparate spectral bands into a unified visual expression. So, during the last years, I have not made a distinction between UV and IR for my own work, as they both have the invisible feature in common. Sometimes the one, sometimes the other approach is beneficial
for a given photographic task.

It has always struck me as bizarre that humans, which can perceive just 50% of the sunlight incident to the surface of the Earth, still consider their vision to represent the truth. Anything outside that narrow spectral band of 400 to 700 nm is either non-existing to the human mind, or is false. Photography using the UV or IR domains are said to be manipulated, unreal, not true. Who are we to decide that? UV is 10% and IR is 40% of the radiation emitted by the Sun. Not seeing a thing is different from denying its existence.

We get suntanned on the beach by UV rays, so we certainly are aware of that spectral band, thus, we should consider using these invisble rays for photography as being equally normal and main-stream as getting a suntan. Likewise with IR, we feel the warmth of the sun, so taking that experience a step further automatically results in IR photography. We will soon understand that the IR reflectivity of subjects does not correspond to what we see for ourselves, but since the patterns by and large are repeatable, we can often pre-visualize the IR rendition.

JM: Your photographic work takes on very strong themes. Particularly, it appears that you are looking to delve into things that are not naturally visible with our own eyes. Where does this come from?
BR: Basically, I think my scientific background and natural curiosity are the major factors. This leads me to consider nature photography as a two-way process, taking place between Nature and the observing photographer. The typical Western approach to Nature is that Nature exists for the benefit of us, and that it is ours to do with whatever pleases us when we are considering Nature and the environment. Let us always remember that Nature can do perfectly well without any human intervention, but not the other way around. That should put the matter in its proper perspective.

You need to open up your mind to listen to the inner voices of Nature, before you can communicate your emotional reaction to those messages. In my mind, I'm humbled and overwhelmed by Nature because I'm being told so much and I'm able only to understand a mere fraction of what I hear or perceive. I feel grateful because I'm allowed by Nature to experience and envision some of these secrets of the ambient world. Sometimes the things I'm shown are elusive, sometimes they are tangible, but in all aspects they are a reality which can be communicated to others. The visual language is mine and has been developing and consolidating throughout my photographic evolution, but the underlying messages are given to me. I only need to reach out and devote my attention to them.

Mountain Road(visible) (c) Bjorn Rorslett

JM: As you have mentioned earlier, you came into photography full time after having had a full career. Do you feel that it was emotionally fulfilling having done this work? Would you have waited so long to go into photography full time if you had to do it over again? Or, do you feel that this is a natural progression of your lifetime's work?

BR: While sticking to being a scientist may have shortened the length of my professional career as a photographer, my convoluted and complex life also has given me a deep insight into a multitude of aspects relating to Nature, human life, and the interaction between them. So, no, I wouldn't have done differently if the opportunity should exist. My life has clearly shaped me into the photographer I am today.

Venus - Morning Star by Day, Lover by Night (UV) (c) Bjorn Rorslett

JM: When you talk about your experience of photographing that which is unseen, you speak strongly about the humble experience you have being able to hear Capital N Nature - and your ability to understand only a portion of that which you are hearing. Can you talk about this more? Is your photographic direction an attempt to somehow understand a piece of 'Capital G' God or is it something different?
BR: I'm not a religious person by any definition of the concept. On the contrary, I consider myself an atheist. I don't believe in any gods. I don't think life as such has a deeper meaning, except for our species, as any other, is interacting with the ecosystem to play a minor part of the overall grand scheme of Nature. As a species, we certainly neither are unique nor instrumental in the well-being or future of Nature. No time did I feel this stronger than when I watched the Venus Passage in 2004. I had driven all night, like a madman, 300 km on poor roads, to get to a location where there was no cloud cover. I barely got time to set up my gear before the passage commenced. Watching the black dot inexorably marching across the face of the sun, knowing this was a planet the size of Earth, that it moved in its celestial circle without Man's influence and that all Earthly powers never could change the timing of this event was a relevation. With all our science and knowledge, we just could predict the time for the passage, but nothing else. So tiny and non-influential, really, is mankind in the great setting of the Universe. It was a very strong emotional experience. In fact, it was a pinnacle of anything I've ever encountered in Nature, and likely always will be so.

In Section II, we will discuss aspects of Bjorn's business, from Seminars to Stock Photography. Section III, which will be published on Monday night, will focus on Bjorn's thoughts on the environment and environmental activism.

If you would like to see more of Bjorn's work, please feel free to check out his website at: http://www.naturfotograf.com/

Just a friendly reminder that this article is Copyright 2005-2011, James Morrissey, and may not, in part or in whole, be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author. The images in this article are the property of Bjorn Rorslett and have been licensed to James Morrissey and the NWP Photo Forum for the purpose of this interview

Re: NWP Interview - Bjorn Rorslett [Re: James Morrissey] #35469
06/13/11 12:52 AM
06/13/11 12:52 AM
Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey Offline OP
James Morrissey  Offline OP
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
Part II: Bjorn Talks Business

Call of the Wild (IR) (c) Bjorn Rorslett

Editor's Note: A link is at the end of the page if you wish to learn more about Dr. Bjorn Rorslett and his techniques in Ultraviolet and Infrared photography. Check it out as it is very much worth the read.

JM: What does a shoot look like for you? What equipment do you bring, how much?  How long are you normally out for?
BR: As I said before, up to one week for a trip is typical. I try always to set up a shooting schedule in advance, so as to bring with me relevant gear for the trip. Since I frequently shoot visible, UV, and IR, and these days always digital. I bring several specialized DSLRs in addition to the current workhorse, the D2X. I have set up several metal cases containing the appropriate UV or IR equipment (special lenses, filters, UV/IR flashes etc.), so it really isn't more complicated than to pick up the proper case(s) before I leave. For UV, nowadays, I use the D70 and the D1H, both for UV flowers, and D2X for some variants of landscape UV pictures. With IR the equipment comprises two modified bodies (D1 and D70), besides the D2H. I also bring with me an array of lenses, wide-angles, fast normal lenses, macro lenses, and some medium and long fast telephoto lenses (200/2, 300/2.8, 400/2.8 or similar). Plus, of course, at least 2 heavy-duty tripods (Sachtler ENG series with Burzynski heads), a case with batteries, chargers, 2 laptops, external disk drives, and the list would seem to go on forever. My little red Peugeot is pretty well filled to the brim but at least the extra weight makes it corner even faster smile

JM: Do you normally travel by yourself or with others?
BR: For shorter trips, I frequently travel together with friends, but on the longer trips I'm on my own entirely.

JM: What precautions do you take when you are out photographing on your own in isolated areas?
BR: I always let my family know precisely where I'm headed, and I bring good clothing and when appropriate, security ropes with me. I also have a survival suit, similar to ones used by oil
workers in the North Sea, for working in or near dangerous wet places.

JM: How did you make the decision in 2001 to take photography on full time?
BR: I made the discovery that I would only burn out in the rat race of science - for the benefit of nobody - if I didn't make a total change of my life. Developing a chronic illness at that time only exacerbated my situation. So the decision to opt out of the scientific career was natural and inevitable. After all, my scientific goals had been achieved and I was widely regarded as an authority in my field, what more could you ask for?

JM: Did you have a specific business plan?
BR: Not very detailed. I had, by 2001, hefty sales through my stock agency. I decided that this, together with a retirement fund, would secure my living for the foreseeable future. My main objective was to do photography addressing topics that had inherent interest for me, not necessarily for the public at large. You might say this approach wasn't very business-like, but I wasn't into this for money per se.

JM: If you were starting a photographic business again now, what would you do different?
BR: Nothing, really. Business is thriving seen from an economical point of view, so I don't think anything should or could have been done differently. I first and foremost intend photography to fulfill my own needs for expressing myself. The economic side of the business always has come in second place. However, while travelling, I do a lot of not-so-exciting shooting to ensure I have a solid foundation of sellable images for my stock library, and this grants me the independence and freedom I need for my personal photography.

JM: Can you describe what your photographic business looks like currently?
BR: Yes. I have a contract with Samfoto, a major Norwegian stock agency. They sell my images to books, magazines, newspaper, advertising and national exhibitions. Besides this, I do a lot of workshops, and run lectures and slide shows for Nature Photography arrangements within Scandinavia.

JM: What are the types of major clients that you serve?
BR: The clients abroad are quite diversified. I sell to book publishers, newspapers, magazines, advertising firms, scientific and educational clients, museum exhibitions, and also serve some private
clients who wish to have exhibition prints.

JM: How did you first get involved with your stock agency? What percentage of your income comes from stock versus other ventures?
BR: A significant percentage, probably around 70% on an average. Sales abroad constitutes some 10%, the rest are split between workshops, lectures, and the odd consultancy jobs.

JM: How did you choose Samfoto over other Norwegian companies?
BR: On two grounds, the first is that this agency was founded by left-wing photographers several of whom I've worked with earlier, and second because it is widely acclaimed for promoting
nature photography.

JM: What should people trying to get into stock look for in a contract, or is it all pretty much boiler plate?
BR: I don't know the situation in the States, but over here in Norway all these things are pretty much controlled by Law, and there is little left to negotiate. An even 50-50 split between photographer and agency is the norm.

JM: Do you ever feel a certain pressure in order to perform for your stock agency, or is it relatively pressure free? I ask this because in other interviews I have done, photographers have stated that in order to be successful in stock that you need to be out in the field '250+ days per year.'

BR: I don't feel pressured at all, but I do shoot more than 250 days per year. However, for me this doesn't imply I'm travelling this much, because many of my images and projects take place in the vicinity of Oslo. In fact, I live ideally situated within 100 miles of woodland. [This is] very close to my home, [and] only a few minutes driving will take me into the nearest shooting areas. I consider myself quite
lucky being an urban nature photographer and living where I do.

I do travel to other regions of the country around 10 times annually, but these trips typically last only for up to a week.

Astronomy Domain (visible) (c) Bjorn Rorslett

JM: If the time constraints are accurate for you, how are you able to maintain significant relationships with others?
BR: No problem, as I'm not on the road for more than perhaps 60 days per year.

JM: Is it worth it?
BR: By all means, yes.

JM: What role does your website play in your business?
BR: It makes my visions familiar to a world-wide audience, and have ensured quite important image sales to clients outside the Nordic countries. In particular, the UV images have proven to be very successful. Inside the Nordic area, I'm prevented by my stock agency contract to sell pictures on my own, so here the main impact is to draw attention to the existence of these images, and direct people to my agency which then conducts the actual sale.

From the onset, I didn't intend the site to be a showcase for my own photography, initially the web approach was just for fun and a way of sharing some of the images with other people. I did also, at that time, get a lot of questions by mail and phone about lenses and other photo gear. I found it prudent to assemble these ramblings in a place available to all instead of repeating myself over and over again. The gear head and the picture approaches have joined forces to give a very popular and highly frequented site, which currently receives more than a million hits each month. I'm a little surprised by this because I've done nothing in particular to make it happen. Evidently, everything has been an effect of mouth-to-mouth advertising and people putting up links everywhere. All the information has been, and will continue to be, freely available, much to the surprise of a great deal of my visitors. I consider the
expenses incurred with running the site as a means of returning some of the insight and inspiration I have gotten from the photographic community at large myself.

JM: This is NOT meant to be a softball, but it may come out like one. What do you feel makes your vision of Nature different from other photographers in the community? How does it help you
create something that is seen as special in the nature/wildlife community?

BR: There is no doubt I'm a bit different from the current mainstream of Nordic nature photographers, but it would be presumptuous to assume I'm a different species as it were. All I try to do is convey and communicate my inner visions, and people may or may not like these. The brooding aspects appeal to a great many people though, and the clear-cut form and strong colours often used may contribute as well. As people get to know my way of visual expression better, they return to find more and more subtle details in pictures previously considered undecipherable. I get a lot of feedback relating to this issue and I'm quite proud that many photographers consider these pictures an inspiration for their own work.

Hunting High and Low (visible) (c) Bjorn Rorslett

JM: What does the workshop portion of your business look like? How often do you do them?
BR: Typically 2-3 times in Spring and likewise in the late Autumn.

JM: What is the content that you normally go over on them?
BR: Teaching the need for trandscending what you see in the subject (or nature) in order to foster your own creativity. I try to teach people to commit themselves to making, not taking, photographs.

JM: What are the compositions of individuals in your workshops?
BR: The typical client is a frustrated, advanced amateur who has bought expensive equipment and then realizes this alone will not produce good photography, just plain and dull images.

JM: ...teaching the need for trandscending what you see in the subject (or nature) in order to foster your own creativity. I try to teach people to commit themselves to making, not taking, photographs. This is an interesting concept, 'making, not taking' photographs. My experience with a lot of trainings and workshops has been that the goal is often to help people think 'outside of the box' but that most people often wind up copying from the master as opposed to learning on their own. How do you feel that you are able to help individuals learn how to transcend not only what they see, but what you see?

BR: I consider this to be a central core of photography. You need to have visions, and to be able to communicate these to an audience. So, the point is to start with your personal attitudes and how you envision yourself and your position into the greater whole of things. I always say that people should set up a communication within themselves, in order to better understand why they react, and in a particular way about something they see or experience. This is what I teach at my workshops. There, we can spend considerable time discussing what we experience in a given setting without any photographs being taken at all. The photography itself is just the final means to achieve a predicted end. It has no importance on its own and the motions you go through obtaining an image are just technological. It is king of like knowing how to use a hammer before you start driving nails into the wall.

Since people tend to be different, so should their communicated visions be. If a person has no personality, he might wind up being a copycat, but that does him nothing good despite a possible perfect output in terms of sharpness and attention to detail. Only when he realizes *why* the image results, not *how*, will he be able to move onto the next step in an evolution to become a proficient photographer.

JM: What are your near-term goals for your business? What do you feel it will take to achieve them?
BR: My current projects involve making multimedia shows for large audiences. I have already run several quite extensive digital shows, and I'm in the process of setting up a big show for the forthcoming Nordic Festival of Nature Photography to be held at Sweden, later this year. Here I'll mix my visions
of contemporary nature photography with electronic and rock music, a recipe which I personally find both quite natural and intriguing.

I'm also in the stage of planning for projects with digital underwater photography. In fact, I will be resuming a field of photography which hasn't been very active with me for years, but that I feel holds
a huge potential of producing great images. Again, this is essential for me, but no guarantee for getting bigger stock sales.

Another field of current interest is adapting ultra high-speed lenses to my DSLR bodies, as a means of making more fleeting and delicate detail images. Again, the making of multimedia shows has been instrumental for the need of achieving such images. They blend very well with some of the moody, atmospheric music incorporate in my shows.

If you would like to see more of Bjorn's work, please feel free to check out his website at: http://www.naturfotograf.com.

Bjorn Rorslett Interview [Re: James Morrissey] #35470
06/13/11 12:56 AM
06/13/11 12:56 AM
Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
James Morrissey Offline OP
James Morrissey  Offline OP
Carpal Tunnel

Joined: Feb 2005
Manhattan, New York, New York
Part III: Bjorn on the Environment

The Future is Tomorrow (c) Bjorn Rorslett

JM: This may seem like a silly question considering your life-long profession, but do you consider yourself as an environmental activist?

BR: Yes, in a more indirect background sense of the word. This means I'm no longer on the barricades, as I did in my younger days, but I contribute to people getting better insight and information on ecological and conservation issues. Together with colleagues I have made exhibitions from endangered areas to put pressure on environmental authorities, and in one particular case, our work was instrumental in giving a threatened woodland area status as a Nature Reserve.

JM: ...This means I no longer am on the barricades, as I did in my younger days...  What kind of issues were you fighting for?

BR: In those days, the main issues were pollution abatement, endangered species and biotope protection, and getting politics into the environmental questions. Only by international cooperation and pressure could one hope to get any reduction of, for example, acid rain which at that time dramatically impacted large areas of Norway.

JM: What sorts of actions/groups are you involved with?
BR: I do most of the work as a member of my professional organization, http://www.norskenaturfotografer.com/ (Norwegian Nature photographers)

End to a Means is the Means to an End (visible) (c) Bjorn Rorslett

JM: What issues do you see as the environmental stressors that are seriously impacting your homeland and the greater environment?

BR: Lack of knowledge of, and insights into, environmental and ecological issues is steadily increasing. This trend is currently permeating the entire national community on all levels of political influence. In all my work, I try to show that Nature has a value of its own, an Eigenvalue in the words of Kant, which just exists totally independent of mankind, and we as a species should be obliged to respect.

JM: What do you consider to be the largest dangers to your homeland as well as the greater ecosystem?
BR: As I said before, ignorance and lack of insight into the environment as such and the belief that man can do anything which pleases him.

I live in a country where the sky is clear and you can drink water directly from a brook in the forest or in the mountains. However, you have to keep an eye out out for tell-tale signs of pollution everywhere. So our countryside has lost much of its pristine character already. Roads criss-cross the country to such extent that only a few percent of the geographical area are located more than 5 km away from a road. This means thattrue wilderness is very hard to find, and this in a country where the median itude is
900 m.a.s.l. (50% of Norway is above this itude).

If a new oil source is found inside a region important to fisheries, politicians are eager to tell all about zero emission technology. They might even believe such a contradiction exists, at least until the first spill occurs to destroy a fishery resource. Then, they go around in circles trying to find the culprit and promise such incidents will never happen again. They may even stop oil production for a week or two, at the most. It all boils down to the belief that man stands above everything else, which really sickens me.

JM: Is this scenario that you just described a real scenario, or is it hypothetical?
BR: Absolutely not. Oil exploration is now taking place in the Barents Sea and off the Lofoten Islands. Both of these places are major spawning areas for cod and other fish species. There have been a number of oil spills already to the embarrassment of the Authorites claiming zero-risk technology had been applied.

In The End, There is Just Another Beginning (visible) (c) Bjorn Rorslett

JM: What real things do you think that people can do to be helpful?
BR: Accepting Man's position in Nature.

JM: What do you think it will take for Man to really understand his place in Nature?
BR: It will never happen. We are too egoistic for that.

JM: Do you have any specific environmental organizations that you would like to talk about that are doing work that you feel is of a greater service?  What sort of things are they doing?
BR: In Norway, as in any other country, there are groups of people trying to reverse the exploitation of Nature for the benefit of mankind at whatever cost to the environment. The sad thing is that they must go on a political war path to achieve anything, because our society is run by politicians which only understand political and economical ramifications of their own actions. So the environmental parties must speak a similar language. Just restating the need for environmental concern and nature protection simply doesn't come over to the targeted audience. I see organizations such as Greenpeace and Attac in this context. Other organizations do focus more directly on human rights, but indirectly, they improve the attitude toward the non-profit aspects of humanity and our communities, Amnesty International springs to mind here.

Thanks again to Bjorn Rorslett for having taken the time to do this interview for NWP. If you would like to see more of Bjorn's work, or learn more about him, please feel free to check out his website at http://www.naturfotograf.com/

As always, we encourage you to come join the community and to be participants in the forum. Just another reminder that this article is copyright 2005-2011, James Morrissey, and may not be reproduced, in part or whole, without explicit permission from James Morrissey. The images in this article are the property of Bjorn Rorslett and have been licensed to NWP for the purpose of this article.

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