If you take one thing away from these giant paragraphs that you will probably skip (because you are a visual person - that’s why you are really here, isn’t it ?) please just know that very little of my work is Photoshopped, other than tonal adjustments and the occasional footprint deletion. All of my images are wholly created at the time of exposure, within a single shutter release. I don’t add clouds, or backgrounds, or any special lighting effects. Period.
These are nighttime long-exposures utilizing experimentation with hand-held light-emitting tools such as acrylic rods and Lucite sheets, home-made plastic cubes, hula hoops, and anything else that lights up. I am fortunate to be able to utilize the largest free studios in the world, using grand, expansive backdrops of the vast, starry western wilderness, with ready-made sources of beautiful ambient and lunar lighting.
Landscape photographers direct their attention to the beauty, solace, and majesty of nature, and any intrusion into that by man is necessarily a distraction. That is not my message. And I am not a landscape photographer. My work revels in intrusion, often drastically altering the intended aesthetics of natural creation. My images are not about mankind “and” nature, or even “in” nature. It’s more about mankind “as” nature, as one entity. My body is in nearly every image, yet you cannot see it – it has blended entirely with the scenery. Even the images with portraits intend to convey some form of spiritual and physical blend with the environment. I examine our loss of connection between mankind and the natural world. Nature wields great power over us, but we are not always at it’s mercy. We manipulate nature to our own desire, and how we choose to do that reveals our connection to our natural environment. Do we leave a trace ? Do we F it up forever with yet another Taco Bell ? Or, can we create wholly manufactured beauty within nature. Can we do this together ?
Why Do This ?
I put a ton of effort and forethought into the production of an image. And that's why I like it. Because I can. I can make the images. They don't just happen. It's the "slow-food" of photography. The more work I put into it, the reward is sweeter. Each image is slowly and wholly created by hand during the image capture process, which, as mentioned, can be as long as 30 minutes. And long, long long, before that anticipated moment, there is deliberate scheduling, moon-phase and sunset/sunrise charts to consider, daytime location research, light-tools to make or acquire, equipment and battery checks to do, and closed park gates, drugged-out squatters, furry fanged animals, and of course, golf-cart wielding night-security to consider. And before that, there is endless hours of "photographer's block" What the hell am I going to make now ? I make lists, and cross out lists, and refer back to them and erase the cross-outs. Sometimes a trip turns out to be a bust, a waste of 4 days, just delete the card, and sometimes, albeit rarely, the images turn out just like I had envisioned.
Cube #1, for example, was one of 12 or so takes on the last day of a Death Valley trip, taken under extreme fatigue, a lot of anguish and self-torture to convince myself to wake at 3:15am, a lost shoot location in total darkness (new moon), and a huge amount of effort to get the 180 lb. cube assembled. But there it was. The image I saw in my head about two years back. (More or less).
The "more" part of "more or less" brings me to the other reason I love painted-light photography. You never really get the exact image you expect. I love the unexpected bonus good stuff ! There is a sort of rush that happens when the camera's LCD back fires up and the image explodes in all it's cathode-ray technicolor splendor. This is the point you get to see "what happened". You don't see this while you are painting light - light-painting is like spray painting in Snapchat. It's like invisible ink. Only the CMOS chip plate in the camera is recording the canvas as it is slowly created, and it won't reveal the result until the shutter releases. For this reason, there is PLENTY of variation in the result from the original vision, most of the time. So what I plan for is a general theme, and often it is not much more than a location I've chosen with some ideas for that location. Many times, the wow! images, the ones I actually end up displaying, are just side-trips that happen as I'm shooting something else.
Now I'm just rambling. Just click on this for the rest: Exhibits/Awards