North Woods, Central Park (Abstracted)
In time I found a decent job designing kitchens, but the hours were terrible. It was a schedule good for a hermit. Luckily this hermit had a guitar and the music of Bach to play on it. There came a day however when, thanks to a shakeup in management, I got laid off. I had just had hernia surgery and was happy to have the time to heal. It was December of 2009 and I cashed in some kitchen vendor points to get a tiny Canon point and shoot camera. The Powershot was my first digital camera and I took it with me on my convalescent winter walks in Central Park.
There was a real innocence to those walks, because I no longer thought of myself as a photographer. It had been roughly 15 years since I had taken any photographs, so I took pictures like a beginner. I was just enjoying myself while I recuperated. Then something nice began to happen. I remembered how much I loved photography and why I pursued it in the first place. My digital camera opened a new world for me, so a sense of excitement started to build. I was also having fun.
I started shooting almost every day and came home to see what I could do with the images in Photoshop. I had been using the program since 1993 and had several versions on my computer. The earliest ones had some very wild filters and tools, so things took on a whole new dimension. The North Woods image above was originally a normal picture of trees, but I modified it into something completely different. I love it, but creating it required a real leap into the void. You can’t create an image like that without going out on a limb, at least I couldn’t. Working in that space is similar to the Jerk mode I mentioned earlier, where every day reality has to be abandoned for a while.
A New Perspective
The more I played with my new photographs, the more I realized my outlook had changed. If making 3D illustrations taught me anything, it was that I had a sense of humor. My black and white landscapes never revealed that. Shooting still life with and 8″ x 10″ camera was too big a production to take lightly. But 3D allowed me to loosen up. Creating a bird cage, a clover castle, or a drunk Absolut bottle on a sidewalk got me to operate with a different part of my brain. My new cerebral real estate opened a perspective which allowed for images like the North Woods. There is no way I would have produced an image like it in the “old days”.
Landscape photography, like the image below, has always had a grounding and restorative effect on me. It fuels me to try other things. In short, it’s alright to travel if you have a home to come back to. Landscapes are my home. Places like the North Woods are where I go to explore.
Fall at Rockefeller State Park