For a year, 18-year-old Will Greene photographed the scenery of Acadia National Park — the sunrises, sunsets, stars, snow, leaves, trees and boulders — taking over 35,000 images of the 47,000+ acre park.
The project started as a way to celebrate the 99th year of the park — the first U.S. National Park in the eastern United States, and a high school photography assignment, says Greene at TEDxDirigo, but soon turned into a lesson in appreciating one’s surroundings.
“With time-lapse, you go a location, frantically setup for just one shot, and then wait, for as long as ten hours for it to finish,” Greene says. “In those many hours, I found that the waiting quickly turned to watching and then, slowly, to observing the landscape, noticing details I’d never seen before, even in places I’d been to a thousand times.”
Greene says that the project allowed him to feel like he was part of the processes of nature, the changing of seasons, the switch of day to night, “to be immersed in, to take part in nature just doing its thing.”
“I found awe in Acadia,” Greene says. “Even if we’ve watched a thousand sunrises and sunsets before, they’re still just as beautiful and sublime as they’ve always been and they deserve our awe … And it’s not just sunsets and sunrises that are beautiful, it’s plants, rocks, birds, the ocean, clouds … awesome stuff is all around us.”
“Awe is the first step to falling in love with the planet — and caring for it,” Greene says. “That caring is exactly the motivation we need to unpack the environmental issues affecting our planet.” He hopes his film, the five-minute “Acadia,” will inspire awe in others, and encourage efforts to protect spaces like Acadia National Park all over the globe.
Watch his whole talk to learn more: