Saturday, October 10, 2015

Nature as our Muse

One of the arguments that photography is NOT art is that anyone can take a photograph. But this argument could be countered with "anyone can pick up a pencil and draw a picture". Then you have the discussion of how much time and effort it takes to paint or draw and the skill and craft alone (creativity aside) takes hours, days, even years to perfect; whereas a photographer pushes a button in an instant and voila', has created a picture!

The image below was created on Biscayne Bay, at approximately 8:25 am on February 9, 2015. It took 2 seconds to capture the shot, but it took years of work to lead up to that moment. After months of trial and error, scouting out specific locations, experimenting and learning to use various camera equipment, learning to be more observant, and simply getting use to standing in the water with a tripod, I came to Biscayne on the morning of Feb 9, 2015 with a vision.

Before that date, I had paddled my way around Biscayne Bay with my camera equipment over 150 times with the sole intent of photographing. I figure each visit averaged three hours. So almost 500 hours were spent photographing just on Biscayne Bay alone, before the image above was taken. As I became more intimately familiar with the bay, it became more beautiful to me and I wanted so much to have the skills to capture it through my camera. I wanted to use the bay as a palette from which I could create art. I worked hard over the years to try to figure all this out.

After I took the shot and came home, I went through the tedious process of examining and evaluating all the images I shot that morning. I chose this one among several for various reasons. IT came about as close as can be to my vision of Biscayne Bay as I had been viewing it in my mind. At last, I had it before me. My work continued; I needed to transform the RAW image into my creation. This took a few hours or more. After some work, I put it away for a day or so and then went back to it, seeing it another way. This went on for awhile, and finally, the image became what I wanted it to be. Several hundred hours later.

Lately, I have spent much time in another area I love, Chokoloskee Bay. I have become very close to the bay this summer when I visited with my tripod a dozen times or more. With each visit, the bay revealed more layers and I attempted to capture each of them. My vision of the bay became more complex over time. The palette was growing wider and more colorful.

But my work on Chokoloskee Bay has only just begun. I approach bird photography much the same way. The bird image below is one of my favorite birds, the reddish egret. I have had relatively few opportunities to photograph this bird. As with Chokoloskee Bay, my vision of the reddish egret has yet to be captured through my camera's lens. I have more skills and experience to pick up along the way before I get there.

Art is a commitment and photography is my art. Biscayne Bay, The Everglades, birds; they are my Muses.