Wednesday, March 10, 2010

If at first you don't succeed...

Photoshop. Right? At least that’s what I’ve been hearing lately. If there’s one question I get more than any other when showing my work it’s always the eager, “Wow, is this Photoshop?” While I used to take this as a compliment, nowadays I’m more concerned than anything else. I love having the chance to explain my images face to face but I wonder how many people see my website and for lack of conversation, draw their own conclusions about my methods and ethics. The tools are so sophisticated now it’s often hard to tell the difference between a photo illustration and a natural history photograph. We are, after all, artists, and who’s to say that a distinction should even be made? I can’t say I’m not tempted; my conscious is at constant war with my wallet, as is the case with many photographers. Sometimes to land the image, you have to stick with it for hours, days, or months even, and such an investment gets pretty expensive. From fickle weather, to bad light, I have taken the two-hour drive of shame from the Everglades back to my house countless times without a photograph I’m proud to turn into a print. Though, I must admit when the elements align and the creative eye is tuned and patient, magic does happen. I guess when it comes down to it, I would much rather offer my gratitude to the lively landscape before me than the glowing screen of my computer.

So in the old-school spirit of try, trying again, here is a glimpse of the creative process behind satisfying a picky conscious.

The goal was to show the Everglades daisies in bloom amongst the cypress trees.

Two weeks later I came back to try it with a new lens.

The following week...

Two months after the first image...

And finally, more than two months and eight visits to the park, I came up with this one.

I spent over three hours at this swamp lily waiting for clouds which never came. It took laying down on my back and sediment-thick water seeping into my ears... but I think it was worth it.

This image has been an idea in the making for a long time. I first wanted to do something like this two years ago in Honduras but could never find the right tide to do it successfully. Luckily, Everglades National Park has plenty of mangroves which aren't all subject to tides. I took this one during the full moon in January but wasn't happy with the color, the displacement of the light, or all the distracting elements around the mangrove.

I waited for the next full moon and luckily it fell on a still night so I scouted for an entire day before finding a clearing with an isolated subject.

Finally, an image two years in the making: Midnight Mangrove.

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