Merle Somerville has been photographing
landscapes for over 30 years. His passion for finding the perfect
image, has lead him to photographing more than 150 parks located
throughout British Columbia, United States, Australia, Central
America and the South Pacific. Since completing his Canadian
Master’s in Photography in 1978, his work has been published by
several national magazines, tourism marketers and recently the
Knowledge Network celebrating British Columbia’s 150th Anniversary.
Merle’s first solo exhibition was in Vancouver in 1999, followed by
several other exhibitions featuring his large-format panoramic
images of American National Parks.
Often revisiting each location several times to capture the perfect
light, Merle can be found with his favorite tool— his wide-format
Fuji 6cmx17cm Panorama film-based camera. Saying he prefers the
panoramic format of film to digital because “That’s how your eyes
see a landscape”. Merle’s early work was strongly influenced by
Ansel Adams. Merle shares Adams’ passion for nature and the
“straight photography” made popular by the famous group known as
Group f/64 (of which Adams was a member).
Although Merle was a successful commercial photographer and owner of
a professional photo lab for twenty years, he is best known now for
his photo-based artwork. With the emergence of digital imaging and
the various effects made possible by the digital darkroom, Merle’s
new work has begun to show influence of a pictorialism style (a
movement of the early 20th century which subscribed to the idea that
art photography needs to emulate the painting).
In 2007 Merle located to the South Okanagan to pursue his creative
study of the BC’s wine country. His first body of work featuring BC
viticulture showcased coloured-sepia landscapes and still life. This
work won him high praise from his peers and was selected for the
prestigious Fidelis Art Prints, “Vineyard Art Collection” in 2008.
Merle continues to photograph his landscapes alternating between
straight photography and pictorialist styles (selecting the style
that best suits each subject and body of work). Asking him what
matters most for him when considering his artwork, he says, “No
greater reward exists for me than to produce a photograph that
expresses my thoughts and emotions—and to have those felt and
understood by someone else.”