Reality, photography, and art.

Reality, photography, and art.

Its been a while since I had time to blog, I have been working intently on a project for months and hope to have some exciting news soon so stay tuned.  I thought I would start off blogging and send out a newsletter about what my website is and what it is not.

The photos you see on my website have hours and hours in their creation.  Compare that to a friend who recently told me he had a three-minute rule on editing his photos.  If he had messed up the shot so much that he could not edit the photo in three minutes and be done, he felt he failed. 

He and I are on opposite sides of the coin in photography.  He is more of a hunter.  He searches for those wow moments and wants to capture them as they are.  He wants you to see what he saw.  And his work is some of my all-time favorite photographs.  I love both those works which are “pure” photography and those which include a lot of artistic license such as mine.  One is not better than the other, just different styles

For me, I really don’t care to show you what I have seen.  I have taken photos from central America to Alaska.  I have taken millions of photos literally.  From the above the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in a balloon with 500 other hot air balloons to racing wild grass fires in a thunderstorm looking for a safe place to stop to photograph the fire and lightning.  Meteor showers and on stage with platinum winning rock groups in front of 50,000 screaming fans.  I have been under tornadoes and in race cars.  At 50 something with a hunger for adventure, I have found myself and my camera before some spectacular things and nailed those shots.  I have won contests and awards for those. I have nothing more to prove in that regard getting a great photo.

Now more than anything, I want to convey an emotional state or tell the story of what I saw.  Sometimes no matter what you do, the straight photo can’t do that.  Often it can tell a story but I always want to go further.  So, it’s not uncommon for me to spend hours editing. 

One technique I use is selective blurring and sharpening.  The human eye tends to avoid those area’s that are blurry and gravitate to those places that are crisp and sharp.  In blurring some areas and sharpening other places, I try to drag your eye around the image in a certain pattern.  I try to get you to look at things in the photo in a certain order to relay a story of sorts.  Not one of words but of images.

Another technique I use is saturating certain colors (making them more intense) or desaturating.    I use color to bring out an emotional quality of certain objects or mute emotions.  Selective use of color can add a great deal of drama to an image.

I often have more time in the edit of a photograph, than my painter friends have in some of their paintings.  I have one photo that has over 100 hours of editing in it.  (I use an app to track the time for billing on commercial projects, but it allows me to see what I have in my art).

Many photographers don’t consider what I create as photography.  And I am ok with that.  I was complaining to a mentor friend of mine, that I hated introducing myself as a photographer.  Any time I did, invariably I would get questions about portraits and weddings.  None of which I want to do normally.   He looked at me, pointed his finger and said intently, “I never want you to refer to your work as photography and you’re as a photographer. You are not a photographer; you are an artist and you use a camera to create art.”  At first it was kind of odd trying to reframe what I do from photography to art but in the end, it helped me to feel free to modify and play with my images and it stopped the expectation of my doing “straight” photos. 

When you look at my work, you are not looking at just a photograph.  You are looking at an image I have spent hours pouring over to pull from the viewer an emotional response.  I am not saying I am always successful at that, but I do try hard to create something more than just a photograph.  I want to suck you into the image and make you want to linger and relish how it makes you feel, like a good bedtime story when you were a kid.

If you are here because you want to view straight photos, that is not what you are going to see.  Many of my photos have 100’s of photos combined so that in a single frame you are looking at hours of time compressed into a single image.  There might be lighting from one part of the day and the sunset from another.

Take this photo of the windmills.  There are about 20 photos collapsed into one.  The sky went from twilight to dark and in the dark, the moon rose.  The right side of the image has the dark sky before the moon’s rising and you see the stars.  The left side just off the frame is the moon lighting up the windmills as the spin into giant prairie flowers.  Does it convey a storybook feel?  For some yes, others no, but that was the intent.  My attempt had me take about an hour of the day, take 20 or so photos and combine elements to convey a sense o the passing of time and the feeling of being a child among giant things.  Remember what it was like wondering what was on the top of the fridge?  That feeling of being small.

Is it photoshopped?  Yes, and I am dang proud of it when I pull of communicating a story.