I have loved being in nature since I was a child. I seem to get along with most animals, never wear camouflage, and have rarely even been in a blind. Frankly, most of my subjects know I’m there. I get the shot by working up a level of trust. That is how I get close enough to shoot tight portraits of birds and other creatures. I’ve had wild ducks stand in my hand. I had a California ground squirrel fall asleep in my lap, and once had a flock of sandpipers seek protection from a hawk by huddling close to me in my kayak.
Through my pictures, I hope that others will see the beauty in nature that I do. Most people will never see the detail in nature that is presented in these images, even up close.
As a field photographer for over 30 years, I have shot a wide variety of subjects, from tiny beetles to race cars doing 200 mph. One thing most of my subjects have in common is they are rarely static, usually moving quite fast or are transitory in nature. Even some things that look rather frozen are really only frozen in time. Even many of my tiny flowers were shot in the typical Texas wind and were bouncing around so fast that I have to time the shot to catch the composition I want. (It’s good practice.)
I do not add anything to a scene or subject. My nature photography is “straight”. You are seeing what I saw. Cropping and tonal qualities to correct for the limitations of digital sensors or scanning are all that is generally done. I do reserve the right to take something out that doesn’t belong. What I mean by this is something like an ugly post in front of an historic building. I have done that when I couldn’t avoid it from my field of view. My racing photography very occasionally uses half tone or other effects, m any of which I did on enlargers 20 years ago. I am not a true “purist”. If art photographers were really “purists”, we would all be shooting on glass plates. (And artists would only be using charcoal and raw natural dyes – no paint.) That is fine if one wishes to do that, but it really has nothing to do with art or the purity of art. I use the best process I can to achieve the best print. The important part of photography is the print, and as Ansel Adams said, “The print is king”. It is. Nobody really wants to look at art on a computer. For most, it’s just not easy or comfortable to contemplate that way. And a photograph is a unique slice of time.
I do not print on canvas because a photograph of a natural subject is real and much more unusual than a thought of what could happen. Reducing an unusual or graceful activity of a bird, for instance, to a print that looks like a watercolor, devalues the unusual nature of the reality of the image. It reduces this to a thought, a dream, not a real event that is captured with the thought that the reality is beautiful and interesting.
All of my serial numbered prints are individually mastered and individually printed on archival photographic paper. The numbering process I use is unique, as the serial number is printed into the print. The only way this can be done on a digital photographic print is to create a new master file for each print. Using this system, every print is an original.
Serial numbered prints of a given photograph are sequentially numbered for all versions in 11x14 to 12x18 inch sizes. A different set of serial numbers is used for the same image in large sizes from 20 to 30 inches wide. The only exception to this is, for example, a tight vertical crop from a landscape image. It is too hard to keep up with the alternating serial numbers in this case. 12x36 inch prints of an image have their own serial number series. The same image in 24x72 or 30x90 inch is in another sequential serial number series. 6x18 inch prints are NOT numbered. These are intended to be economical, and the extra work and time involved would be more than a 12x18 inch print costs. Also, some 12x18 inch prints are intended to be matted as 11x14, 12x16 or 12x18 inch prints in standard 16x20 or 18x24 inch frames.
I do not print inkjets, otherwise called giclee prints. I do not use these water-based ink processes because it results in a much more fragile print with highly variable life span due to the great variety of ink, paper, and coating on the market. Unless a giclee print is coated on both sides, it will be as fragile as a watercolor. Manufacturer’s ratings for print life are based on precise criteria that do not generally include a coating. The clear coating can have a shorter life than the print.
Kodak Endura Professional and Fuji Crystal Archive paper are established, well tested photographic papers that are processed under technically precise conditions. They are humidity and water resistant and have at least a 100 year life under standard room light.
They are your best guarantee of a high quality photographic art print.
SCOTT A. KILGORE