I love a clean landscape photograph. One with beautiful colours, interesting lines, and gorgeous light. Or a clean wildlife image with startling detail and a soft background. Those have always been the types of images I try to make.
In the past year or so, I’ve found myself attracted to a different type of image. Perhaps one that is more conceptual and planned rather than one that is discovered. Often one that involves photo composites where multiple photographs are combined into one.
I started playing with adding different types of elements to my images like handwritten words, handwritten music, geometrical shapes, textures, paint splats, blobs of light, rain, leaves – all sorts of unexpected things!
I know the purists might not consider this photography anymore, and that’s fine. It’s digital art, and it sparks my creativity in a way I haven’t experienced before. It has opened the doors to what is possible and takes all the “rules” off the table. What’s more … it’s fun!
Not that “straight” photography isn’t fun, of course it is. This is just a different kind of fun and there are few things better than finding a new kind of fun.
Plus, now that my mobility problems are limiting my opportunities to make new photographs, this is one way I can express my creativity with images I already have.
I feel a bit like I’ve been hiding this side of myself. I’m a little afraid to let it out in case the purists feel the need to tell me that photoshop is cheating or some silly thing like that. But these are not pure photographs. They are digital art – and it’s time to release them into the world.
All of these images were made with my original wildlife photographs, many of which I love in their original form. Some of them, however, had something about them I didn’t like that prevented me from putting them in my portfolio. Usually the problem was a cluttered background. Sometimes these things can’t be helped in the field. But now I can take such an image, extract the animal, and use it in a digital art piece. It’s very satisfying to perform a rescue this way!
For example, the image below is a composite of two separate images – and an unforgettable experience that I am so happy to have an image of now. I was watching this mother elephant and her days-old newborn when suddenly the baby came out from under the mother and started running towards me. The mother quickly used her trunk to retrieve her baby! As this happened, both elephants moved quite a bit closer to me and I found my lens too long to get both elephants in the frame.
At the time I was disappointed that the mother elephant’s head was cut off. But years later, I found a way to merge the two photographs, piecing the mother elephant back together and removing some distracting background trees. With a new background and a few more elements added to the scene, I now have a piece of digital art that I love.
I hope you enjoy this new pursuit of mine. I’d love to hear what you think about digital art and if you are interested in learning more. I’m considering creating some videos showing how I make these images, what goes into them, and the different techniques I have discovered along the way.