For amateur and professional photographers alike, Long Island is just about the ultimate location to snap the perfect shot. Boasting innumerable ecoregions – everything from deciduous forests to coastal plains to salt marshes – Long Island’s natural beauty shimmers and shines at the sight of the landscape photographer’s lens.
This natural beauty, however, is not without its natural history. The story goes as such: roughly 10,000 years ago, during what is called the Wisconsin Glacial Episode, an immense glacier receded, leaving behind terrestrial deposits that slowly formed Long Island. A ten-mile depression formed alongside, leaving us what is now the Long Island Sound.
As the climate gradually warmed, the land and surrounding water began to teem with varying forms of fauna: oysters, squirrels, eels, white-tailed deer, clams, cottontails, flounder, trout, perch, chipmunks, and the like.
Simultaneously, over time, Long Island replaced its evergreen tundra ecosystem with the now recognizable deciduous complex. This led to the advent of such towering flora as the maple tree alongside oak, hickory, black cherry, black walnut, and the occasional elm. A smaller coniferous complex also began to take root, bringing with it the familiar pine, cedar, spruce, and hemlock trees.
Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, and wild grapes flourished. Such flora attracted various wild game and the first indigenous people of Long Island to the land we now call home.
Invoking this vast tradition of landscape, flora, and fauna, two Long Islanders – both enamored with their home’s natural history and natural beauty – have decided to share their photographic vision with the Northport-East Northport community.
A self-professed “amateur” photographer, Kristina Eileen (or KeK-Kaptures), has set up her extensive photography in the halls of the East Northport Public Library from August 2 to August 28. Kristina has described herself and her photography as such: “I am an amateur photographer on Long Island, exploring all that is right in our backyards… I would describe my work as a deep love for adventuring, documenting my journey while capturing Long Island in its raw beauty.”
Kristina’s photography is brimming with the vibrant landscapes Long Island has come to stand for. Her gallery largely deals with vivid color photography and sunsets, though not without some stand-out black-and-white prints and more impressionistic expanse as well.
Each photograph bears a quiet sticker in its upper lefthand corner, informing the viewer of the photograph’s location. Gleaming through her collection (which you can also find on her social media pages), it seems that Kristina has left no town unturned, photographing both Nassau and Suffolk County extensively, searching for the personal “raw beauty'' that each landscape radiates.
Nicole Esposito, a professional natural light photographer, is displaying her landscape photography in the halls of the Northport Public Library in a very similar fashion. Nicole’s gallery exhibits “a collection of landscape and travel photos, in black-and-white and color, with an emphasis on sunsets/sunrises and coastal Long Island.” She has titled her gallery “Home and Away,” as her collection features both the quintessential beauty of her home and various prints of her time abroad.
Though typically specializing in “child and family portraits,” Nicole found her perspective changed with the advent of the pandemic. “I found myself turning to landscapes as both fantastic subject matter and a therapeutic escape from the house,” she said. “I’d grab whichever family members were available, Google a new spot and just drive. For the first time, despite living on Long Island nearly my whole life, we explored and discovered some really amazing places. We also love to travel – although the last two years have made that difficult. My camera has always been my travel companion, capturing fleeting moments of experience.”
In both Kristina and Nicole’s work, there exists a harmonious balance between natural history and natural beauty, a worthy treat for all of Northport-East Northport to enjoy. The photographic galleries can be found on the lower levels of their respective public libraries from August 2 to August 28.
Contributing writer Harrison LeBow is a rising senior at Northport High School.