About Patrick C. Cook, Photographer
Patrick C. Cook specializes in landscape and infrared photography.
Exploring the Woods
I have been involved with photography since my teenage years when I would borrow my father's Polaroid and head off to the woods for an afternoon of exploration. My interest in photography continued throughout my adult years. Long before the Internet, I looked forward to 'photography outings' with friends, as we called them, where we learned from one another. Weeks later we would meet to discuss and compare our developed prints. Those were good times.
My photography greatly accelerated when I purchased a freshly minted Canon 30D digital camera in 2006 (which I still have). Being digital that camera allowed me to move past years of pent up photography creativity. I was able to shoot often, see my results quickly, make measurable skill progress, experiment freely and explore interesting digital image processing methods with software tools as they became available.
HDR Saves the Day
In 2012, I discovered HDR (High Dynamic Range) image processing which allowed me to obtain an image that was closer to the realism I saw in the landscape scenes I photographed (all of the photos in my Grand Canyon Gallery were HDR processed). I was always careful to not use HDR processing just as an artistic style, preferring its use for realistic landscapes. HDR provided me with an image processing method that extracted more photographic power than my camera alone was able to provide. With HDR I began to think of the camera as a first step in the process of making images. In short, HDR took me beyond the photo.
The Discovery of Infrared
In 2013 I discovered digital infrared photography which went on to enable photographic creativity I couldn't have imagined prior. This particular discovery was quit by accident. On a photography meetup I spotted a fellow photographer taking these weird looking pictures and inquired what was wrong with his camera. He explained that his camera had been converted for infrared capture. At the end of the meetup he offered to loan me his infrared camera, sealing my fate thereafter as an avid photographer of invisible light.
Infrared photography gives me a new perspective of the world. Due to the unique way in which the near-infrared spectrum (which is invisible to human vision) interacts with objects, the result is often surprising and alien, and always interesting. While infrared photography allows me to discover new avenues of photographic expression, it is difficult to master. But it is this difficultly that provides me with a delicious challenge, with successful images being wonderful rewards to be treasured for a lifetime. Some of my infrared images are in my Infrared Photography Gallery.
Like infrared, I like to go beyond the photograph with such image processes as HDR, panoramic and other photographic processing methods made practical by digital photography and powerful image software. While challenging due the increased technical aspect of digital photography, HDR, infrared and panoramic add extra dimensions to my work that allows me to explore photographic possibilities almost endlessly.
The Age of Sharing
Now, with the digital photographic tools we have, I feel released in terms of 'exploring the woods' as was the start of my photography interest as a youth. The difference between then and now is that I own the camera and I have virtually no limit to what I can do with photography. I find photography exhilarating because it helps me see (or "re-see") the world with appreciation. I am continuously thrilled by the ease by which we can share our photographic creations in this Internet age - no longer are our photographic creations held hostage as small paper prints stashed away in a dark drawer, forgotten until remembered. I am particularly thrilled that digital image printing has become affordable, and with remarkable quality, longevity and print sizes that help our images be proudly displayed. I am privileged to be able to share my work with others and in the form of prints that can be enjoyed for many years. In fact, I have never felt an image creation was truly done until it was enjoyed by others.
Digital Art Comes About
Ah, but there's more! A couple years ago I discovered yet another image creation avenue that has got me hooked. There are several software applications that are designed to generate digital images from mathematical algorithms, generally referred to as "fractals". They've been around for a number of years, but have recently benefited from newer software technologies and the increase in performance of personal computers. Well, not being intimidated by software, I acquired several of these software applications and went exploring. What I discovered is a world of wonderful images that are generated using math. The images range from magical to perplexing, but always interesting - take a look. The challenge is that one needs very powerful personal computers to "render" the image at a resolution that supports a high-quality large-format print, often taking 5 days to render a single image for a 20x30" print. I have such personal computers, so I am uniquely positioned to bring these wonderful fractal images to print for others to enjoy.
Image Creator or Photographer?
So, it would appear that I am more an image creator than a photographer. But maybe they are one-in-the-same. When working with a digital camera, my work only begins with the click of the shutter - there remains the preparation to support a high-detail print, especially when you consider the HDR, panoramic or infrared processing work that may be involved. Fractal images require specialized software, powerful personal computers and technical knowledge to bring them to print-ready form. However, if beautiful images and prints were easy to create, it would be a less delicious fulfillment for the artist.