There are some people
who feel an intense need
to see what is on
the mountain's other side.
Alan Ballew – Photographer
I have been a photographer since 1968, when I was introduced to the perspective seen through a camera lens by my high school debate partner, Clyde Smith, who went on to become a well known cinematographer. Through the lens of his venerable Nikon F, we were able to see the world in a way we never had seen it before – extracting an image from a split second in time and capturing and preserving it.
There are many different styles of photography, but all of them have in common the fact that they attempt to convey something. Whether it is trying to tell a story in photo-journalistic style or to evoke a feeling, a good photo creates an experience for the viewer.
For most of my life I have been a snap-shooter – documenting my journey through life without any thought toward the commercial or artistic potential of what I was capturing. I took what I considered to be pretty or interesting photos. I had no ambition to break into the art world, or make some sort of profound statement, so how pleasing they might be to other people was not a consideration for me. During extensive traveling in the western United States, and other travels as far as New Zealand, a camera was my constant companion – allowing me to make more permanent records of my experiences than my unreliable memory.
Once in a while an image stood out and said something beyond the memory of the experience. These are the kinds of images that can be turned into wall art and looked at again and again. The ability to see these in a scene before you snap the shutter is key to developing the artistic side of photography.
Retirement has given me the time to pursue this aspect of photography. A theme which echos in the back of my mind is “taking interesting photos of uninteresting subjects.” Digital photography has given us almost unlimited ways to enhance the original image after the shutter has been snapped. My “Natural Abstractions” work involves taking close-up or macro shots, and enhancing the patterns within them to create a more abstract image.