Patrick C. Cook is a photography enthusiast who specializes in landscape photography.
I have two seemingly opposing approaches to my photography. On the one hand I like to create faithful representations of landscapes that interest and inspire me. On the other hand I try to creatively depict a landscape in a manner never before seen, yet still familiar. I find that having two approaches affords me creative variety that keeps me both inspired and challenged.
With photography I generally use two image processing methods to accomplish the approaches outlined above. For the faithful representation of landscapes I'll utilize the HDR (High Dynamic Range) image processing method. HDR processing utilizes software to extend the range of shadows and highlights (the "dynamic range") in an effort to bring the final image closer to the range of highlights and shadows that human vision is able to perceive. (See my Grand Canyon Gallery for HDR image examples.) I find HDR a valuable image processing tool because it results in a richer final image when used properly. I do not use HDR processing for extreme creative purposes, rather as a way to improve the realism of my landscape photographs.
For my more creative pursuit, I take photographs with a specially modified digital camera that is sensitive to near-infrared radiation, usually referred to as "infrared photography". Using software I then process these Infrared images to draw out interesting and unexpected colors. Such images are often called "colorized infrared". How I process the infrared image depends on a variety of characteristics of the image itself and the creative result I hope to achieve.
I enjoy landscape photography because I like vistas. I admire the randomness of nature. I enjoy the interplay of light. I like the challenge of having to work with what is available to me at the moment. I'm capable in other photographic disciplines, but I prefer landscape photography.
I am self taught in photography. I have always enjoyed the freedom of figuring it out for myself. I have participated in structured learning situations, but found that I was impatient in learning situations that expected me to hear about what I already know. Perhaps an artifact of being self taught, I pursue topics as they interest me. I am impatient with the tried-and-true photographic methods because digital photography has freed me from techniques and rules that were born from a time when, ironically, film limited the photographer. While I began with photography in the film days, I am delighted with digital photography because of the ability it affords to take images beyond the capabilities of the camera.
I am a maverick when it comes to photography. I like to bend photography rules, I take photos of what interests me and I push myself to do something different as often as possible, if just to see if I can. When participating in group photo shoots, I have to keep reminding myself to not stray too far from the group like a hound dog hot on the trail of an interesting shot. And I often find myself with company, perhaps because fellow photographers want a taste of the photographic freedom I take for granted. If I have a personal style, I don't know how to describe it. I plunge headlong into technical tasks because that what's needed to get beyond snap-shooting. I have no fear of technical details and I don't let frustration stop me from moving forward mining the best that an image can be.
My personal computer stores just over 50,000 digital files of my photographs, so many that it's a daunting task to simply browse them. Yet I remember where I was with nearly all of them. They are "picture windows" of my past. My image cache allows me to mentally time-travel into my past, and yet time-travel into the future by preparing an image for print. My photos are both souvenirs of past creative excursions and treasures waiting to be discovered.
I don't buy the best photography equipment on the market - I buy the best for my needs at the time. I am not a gear-geek, but I know my gear. I have no favorite brand of camera or related gear. I like to push the limits of my equipment just to see if I can. I make a concerted effort to use my cameras to their fullest capabilities, and still have much to learn. I am neither the master of my cameras, nor intimidated by them.
I have no photography awards (that I know of) and I have won no photography contests worth mentioning. At first blush one may assume this is because my photos aren't good enough to win awards and contests (that may actually be true). But what's really at the root of my obscurity is that I don't care to feed machinery that treats my imaging work as a commodity. My awards are the prints that are proudly displayed in my home and enjoyed by others. My contest winnings come from those who honor me with a print of my image displayed in their home - the best gallery there is.
I wish to create immersive photos that cause viewers to say "wow". I seek the wow that spawns from that inner feeling of wonder and beauty of our world. We all need that. An image is a way of adding just a small moment of value to someone's life. With my landscape photos, I want people to feel the beauty of a place. When I work with infrared photography, I want people to imagine a magical place that gives a brief respite from the realness of reality. I want the intricate colors, symmetry and patterns of my digital art to convey a sense of structure and stability. An image is a conduit to a destination the willing mind travels. In that sense, I make conduits.