Matthew Plexman: Clearcut Q&A Pt 1

November 2-30

Opening November 10 6pm-9pm

Uncomfortably beautiful, large format panoramas of clear-cuts in Northern Ontario. Plexman presents these massively altered and rearranged landscapes not for what was taken away, but for what the loggers left behind, and how Nature reclaims and repairs the damage.

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What equipment do you use?

I use medium format Phase One XF camera bodies, with a 60 megapixel digital back and Schneider-Kreuznach lenses- some of the sharpest ever made. For my panoramics I have the camera mounted vertically on a Really Right Stuff pano head, and use either the Schneider 35mm or 55mm lens.  Generally, I capture at least 12 images, one every 15 degrees as I rotate the camera, resulting in a 180 degree view.

What do you hope viewers will get from Clearcut

Clearcut logging is a controversial practice, leaving behind swaths of “former” forest.  It is the most common and efficient method of logging, and is necessary to economically harvest the wood that we need for paper.  I hope that the images will inspire viewers to think not only about our impact on the environment but also the amazing ability of nature to adapt and repair.  The photographs are not meant to be judgmental, which is why I’ve chosen to show the beauty in the landscapes that remain after the loggers are long gone.  The viewer can approach the images from many different viewpoints.

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What is your process for setting up a shoot?

This is a tough one.  I tend to see the world in “panoramic” view. I actually find it very difficult to cram a landscape photograph into a single frame- I need to build an image with at least 12 frames.  So I drive (or walk) around, to see how I might build an image that (in this case) highlights the beauty that is left behind when the loggers leave.  Once I have a potential viewpoint, I level up the tripod, put the panoramic head on and start testing.  I don’t really know what the image will look like until I have a chance to stitch the images together.

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Where do you hope Clearcut goes next?

I will keep working on this project- the clearcut areas that I have included in this show are near our family “camp” northeast of Sudbury.  I am fascinated by the way the landscape and the roads change from year to year as different areas are logged, and equally fascinated by the regeneration that occurs- naturally or by tree planting.  At some point, I’d like to continue the project in BC.

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