landscape photography artist's statement

Artist's Statement

The Start of My Art
My first recollection of "making art" was in 1978. My third grade teacher assigned us to draw our favorite landscape. I distinctly remember sketching a picture of sandstone buttes and tumble weeds. I enjoyed drawing these monument valley-like formations because they required no straight lines or circles. I have an affinity for landscapes of the Southwest because I grew up in Utah and frequently traveled through the region to visit relatives in Arizona, New Mexico, and California.

I bet I can do this! ...No I can't.
In 2002, I became inspired to make landscape and nature photographs when I lived in San Diego. While on an excursion in La Jolla's Historic Village, my wife Lonica and I visited Mangelsen's Images of Nature Gallery. I was blown away by his collection. He displayed amazing photos of wildlife within beautiful landscapes. A few were eight feet wide. I wanted one for our home! But reality struck when I saw the price tag... $5000. I thought to myself: "I bet I can do this... I'll buy one of these new digital cameras, take a great photo and then just enlarge it. I am so smart... I just saved myself $5000!"

I soon realized that having a digital camera to point and shoot with wasn't all I needed. I had no idea what I was doing.

Camera Equipment
In 2006, I revisited my desire to make beautiful landscape photos. I purchased a Canon 5D with three professional lenses and a tripod. In 2007, I sold the 5D and bought a 1DS Mark II. I currently use a Canon 5D Mark II. I also make my own prints on an Epson 9900 printer. It allows me to print on rolls of canvas or any other type of photo paper up to 44-inches wide.

My Mentor
Since 2007, I have studied with Alain Briot, a french-born master of landscape photography who resides in Arizona. He focuses on landscapes of the American Southwest. His experience as a painter shaped his approach to photography and to composition.

Art or Factual Photography?
For me fine art photography is essentially created by a person, not the camera.  Some people believe that once the shutter is triggered the appearance of a photograph is sealed or that alterations should be forbidden. My images represent the expressions of my emotions surrounding the subject not the output of the camera.

On the level of digital image manipulation, I routinely collage multiple captures into a single image. At times I stretch the image digitally to give it proportions that represent my vision. I also use a process of cloning and "image painting" to remove unaesthetic elements. During photo optimization I frequently ask myself two questions: "If I painted this scene would I include the element? Does the element distract the viewer from focusing on the subject in my composition?" Typically, these unwanted elements are natural features that I could not remove from the original scene, like branches or debris, especially around the borders of the image. I also focus on textures to determine if they are incomplete or unpleasing to my eye.

My Goal
My goal during field composition is to organize the choas of nature and then beautify the elements of the subject during software optimization. While performing optimization steps I try not to distort natural elements beyond believability.  My desire is to create an image that one can consider to be possible even though the exact image may not be reproducible by another photographer. But at times I just have fun with the possibilities.

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