-Some technical details...
Over the years I've had the pleasure of visiting and photographing many different countries throughout the world. To me traveling means making connections. Not just meeting and talking with the people I encounter, but actually bonding with them and their environment. My camera assists me in this effort by acting as a conduit - a catalyst. Through it I view a world filled with intimate details and limitless possibilities. An otherwise dull scene is suddenly transformed into thousand exciting images when viewed through the lens, all of which help paint a picture of the whole.
I enjoy the challenge of communicating my thoughts and feelings through the medium of photography. Among the art worlds, photographers are a unique lot in that we are forced to deal with a finite medium-one which records people, places and events as they occur.
Because of this we are compelled to manipulate these images through the few variables at our disposal: shutter speed, aperture, exposure, lens focal length and composition. "B.D." (before digital) one of the most important decisions I made when creating an image is what type of film to shoot - color, B+W, tight grain, high grain, infrared, etc. Today we are fortunate to be blessed with a bewildering variety of digital options that leave much more of the visualization to the post processing.
On my first 12-month trip through Africa I chose to shoot infrared film in one of my camera bodies. This was my first visit and I wanted to record images from a different perspective. When I developed the film I was ecstatic with the results. The deep, rich tones of the shadows, stark glowing whites and large grain structure gave an otherworldly appearance to my photographs. Not only did they describe Africa as I had seen it, but as I actually felt it. Here were pictures that conveyed the raw splendor of wild places. Gazing at them I once again felt the wave of awe and respect that washed over me as I stood on towering sand dunes or in the midst of wind swept savannas.
During my last trip I was shooting all high resolution images. For this trip I was interesting in trying to capture that grand majesty of the plains and animals, but this time in color. In the end I used Photoshop to give a slight otherworldly intense spin on the images. I have little interest in actually capturing things "as they are" but rather I want to capture things as I feel they are in a poetic sense. My general process in photoshop was very simple. I would duplicate the background layer and give it a slight blur (using one of several different blur options). From there I would change the blurred layer into multiply mode and then started working the images with curves, saturation, selective color and levels layers. Often I would paint through one layer to another until I was satisfied with the final results.
The use of digital gives me the option to capture places like Africa not as I (or others) see it, but as my heart and soul see it. The ability to visualize what I want and achieve it through digital manipulation suddenly breathed life into my images of animals, giving them an air of majesty and dignity.
On the practical side I found one of the most important things when shooting in a place like Africa is the reliability of the media you are shooting to. The last thing I would want is to have a once in a lifetime image disappear through a disk error. Also, for me, it was important to have enough media to cover one full day out in the filed. Nothing kills a good time and nice flow than having to sit down and download images to a laptop or portable hard drive. And even if I were to try downloading one card while shooting another, it just doesn't make sense as it distracts from shooting (constantly checking the download and making sure it is successful, not bumping the drive, watching out for dust and dirt, etc). So, since I was out on Safari by 6AM and returned after sunset, I made sure I had lots of large capacity CF cards with me at all time.
-Some technical details...