Picturing World Cultures: Rita Leistner - Canada
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 Professional tree planting is back breaking piecework—a combination of high intensity sport and industrial labor that requires both technical finesse and remarkable physical and mental endurance. Using techniques more often associated with high-performance athletes, experienced planters (commonly known as high-ballers) leap up and down through uneven and debris-strewn terrain, armed only with a shovel and 30-kg bags of seedlings on their backs. In recent years, tree planting has become a rite of passage among young Canadians not afraid of hard work and dirt under their fingernails.  As seasonal work, it attracts many students from Canada’s southern cities. Due to the brutal physical demands, most are under 30 years old. Out on the cut block inclement weather is common, and the swarms of biting insects are legendary. Working in—rather than on—the land for months on end, and sharing an isolated camp site creates a solid bond among planters. This has molded into a subculture of sorts, which is the subject of today’s show. My guest for this episode is Canadian photographer and filmmaker Rita Leistner. Rita documents communities living in extreme conditions, typically investing months or years in a project. After spending a decade as a tree planter during her youth, Rita returned to the forest in 2016 to document a new generation. In 2021, she released her results as an Art Trifecta, featuring large fine art photographs, a 256-page photo book, and the documentary feature film “Forest for the Trees.”  Equally in her element in forests and war zones, Rita’s photographs and her writings about photography, art, and war have been published, exhibited, and collected worldwide. She is represented by the Stephen Bulger Gallery for art, and by Green Planet Films for film. Guest: Rita Leistner Above photograph © Rita Leistner For more information on our guests and the gear they use, see: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/podcasts/photography/picturing-world-cultures-rita-leistner-canada And if you haven’t already listened, check out all episodes from our Picturing World Cultures podcast series here.https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/promotion/picturing-world-cultures    Episode Timeline:   2:02: The backstory to Canadian tree planting as a business 5:21: Rita’s interest in photography and her early days as a tree planter. 12:43: Comparisons and contrasts between Rita’s early tree planting experiences and what she found when returning to the forest to document this subject. 18:21: A typical day in the life of a tree planter and the actual planting process 26:31: How Rita landed on her distinctive photographic style of capturing fast moving planters with a PhaseOne camera and Profoto lighting. 32:40: Rita talks about how the young planters responded to her sudden presence in the camp.  36:17: Rita’s lighting set up with Profoto B1 lights and coordinating with an assistant to carry all the gear.  41:56: Episode Break 43:10: Rita talks about power consumption, batteries, generators, workflow, and more when working in remote locations.   45:03: Inclement weather, dirt, and bugs when shooting both stills and video footage out in the wilderness. 48:41: The lighting details behind Rita’s enchanted forest nighttime images and timelapse footage. 53:38: How the work of tree planters is perceived by both the logging industry and environmentalists, and the effects this has on the planters themselves. 1:03:47: How Rita’s Tree Planter project has affected her sense of Canadian identity.  1:06:04: Rita Leistner answers our PWC Visual Questionnaire. Guest Bio: Rita Leistner is a Canadian photographer and filmmaker who creates portraits of communities living in extreme conditions, typically investing months or years in a project. After spending a decade of her formative years as a tree planter in the Canadian wilderness, she returned to this theme to document a new generati
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