Q&A: David Dix on God and Landscape Photography

David Dix wears two hats. He is a mechanical engineer in the Chicago area who also produces landscape photography of some of the world’s most stunning vistas. You can see (and purchase) some of David’s beautiful work at his website, www.creationswitness.com.

Tell me about your 9-to-5 job.

I work at a science and engineering consulting firm specializing in failure prevention and analysis. My work involves solving a wide variety of problems in design, product assessment, failure analysis, and accident investigation. Our clients include individuals, cities, insurance companies, and corporations in North America.

How does landscape photography relate to it?

I use photography in my engineering consulting work almost every day. I use photography extensively to document physical information. I also use photographs to analyze scenes and objects that are not available for inspection. Many investigations have been “solved” from analyzing information contained in a single photograph. The knowledge gained from landscape photography has expanded my ability to analyze engineering problems.

How did you get started with landscape photography?

I have always been fascinated by photography. I grew up in Africa, where the wonder of God’s creation was everywhere. Tony Dickens, my graphic arts teacher at Rift Valley Academy, gave me a solid technical foundation in photography. During college I “discovered” Ansel Adams, the very influential and superb photographer of the American West. His powerful images showed me how the landscape could be revealed in fine art photography. As I became more serious about photography, I purchased a larger camera and limited my subject matter to the landscape alone.

What kind of equipment do you typically use when photographing landscapes?

I use film cameras firmly attached to a tripod. During college I used an Olympus OM-1 (35mm). I upgraded to a Pentax 67 (70mm) in 1988 and then to a Toyo view camera (125mm) in 1998. Each camera upgrade increased the film size, which gave the ability to produce larger prints with finer detail.

How do you recommend that someone get started?

Go outside and take pictures. What do you see? The challenge of photography is learning how to capture the emotion of your visual experience. Read photography books, study photographs, and take pictures to learn the art of photography. Although technical issues such as proper exposure and sharp focus have been greatly simplified with automatic cameras, the real challenge is seeing. How do you see the world? What grabs your attention? The answers will tell you what to photograph. Have fun.

Who are your favorite photographers, and why?

Ansel Adams and Galen Rowell. Both were great photographers, published many books, and actively taught photography. I learned a lot from their photographs and writing. Ansel Adams is known for his photographs of Yosemite National Park in California, where he used large format cameras to make outstanding black and white images. Galen Rowell traveled the world and used his rock climbing skills to capture amazing landscape images with his Nikon 35mm cameras.

You have added Bible verses to each of your photos. Why?

Solitary photographs can stir the soul, but they do not communicate ideas. We need images and words to tell a story or convey ideas. God created a beautiful place for us to live. Photography makes me look and think about God’s awesome power as I enjoy his creation. This project developed as I considered how to praise and worship God using the art of photography. I wanted to combine what I read in the Bible with images of creation. I have carefully selected each Scripture passage to complement the photographic image on these posters.

Can’t someone simply enjoy nature without reference to God?

A person can certainly enjoy nature without formally acknowledging God, but when you contemplate the awesome size, complexity, and beauty of nature, your mind will turn toward the Creator. Psalm 19:1 and Romans 1:20 state that creation declares the glory of God and shows God’s eternal power and divine nature to everyone.

What do you hope people will get out of your work?

I hope these posters give people joy as they reflect on the beauty of God’s creation. The universe was created through Jesus Christ, and he sustains all things by the power of his word. These fine art posters are my song of praise and worship to him. May the witness of creation encourage us to declare the glory of God with our lives.

About Stan Guthrie

Stan Guthrie is an editor at large for Christianity Today magazine and for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. His latest book is God's Story in 66 Verses. He also is author of All that Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us, Missions in the Third Millennium: 21 Key Trends for the 21st Century, and A Concise Guide to Bible Prophecy. He is co-author of The Sacrament of Evangelism. Besides authoring, writing, and editing books, Stan is a literary agent, bringing together good authors, good books, and good publishers. Stan writes the monthly Priorities colum for BreakPoint.org. He has appeared on National Public Radio's €œTell Me More,€ WGN's Milt Rosenberg program, and many Christian shows, including The Eric Metaxas Show and Moody Radio'€™s €œNew Day Florida.€ A licensed minister and an inspirational speaker, he served as moderator for the Christian Book Expo panel discussion, Does the God of Christianity Exist, and What Difference Does It Make?
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