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Photographer captures nature through surveillance webcams

The photos prove privacy can be hard to find even deep in the woods.
Derrick Rossignol, @drossignol10
February 16, 2017
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Marcus DeSieno

Nature photography usually involves a lot of being outside and walking. That's fine for some, but photographer Marcus DeSieno captures our world's natural majesty from his computer, via online traffic and weather camera feeds.

DeSieno's photo series "Surveillance Landscapes" comes from looking at more than 10,000 webcams, he told Wired. DeSiento creates his images by grabbing screenshots of the best scenes. He then takes a photo of those screenshots using waxed-paper negatives, before developing them into high quality pigment prints. This method softens the digital pixelation of the screenshots and gives them an ethereal quality. The resulting photos look much like those by 20th century large format photographers like Ansel Adams.

The images don't come off as artificial or technological, and DeSieno has seen a lot of the world while making them.

"I've watched the sun set over the Grand Canyon, seen waves crashing into Hawaii, watched storms passing over [the Swiss Alps]," DeSieno told Wired. "It's all from the comfort of my desk chair."

DeSieno became interested in privacy and easily accessible webcam feeds after learning about Edward Snowden's 2013 NSA leaks. Webcams may have led to these compelling images, but it was the danger they present that lured DeSieno in.

The "Surveillance Landscapes" gallery on DiSieno's website includes photos of snowy forests, mountainous roads, and other types of landscapes -- all of which came from a low-resolution camera hidden out of sight. While the images demonstrate how lovely nature can be, they also remind us that we may not be as alone as we think, even in the most remote places.

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