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Who among us hasn’t noticed it—the strange doubling of forms and faces—the echo in the world? The waves in rock, the veins in leaves, the ghostly flowerings of frost. As though God, deep in his labors, had suddenly run out of ideas, or, perhaps, surprised by the loneliness of his creation, had set out, in the eleventh hour, to stitch the world together—the sound of wind to the sound of water, the ruffling of field to the ruffling of fur, the memories of the living to the hopes of the dead. A familiar universe. A sea of small recognitions. A vast brotherhood of thoughts and things. That is what he dreamed.

It was too late. It didn’t work. We misread intention as accident, correspondence as coincidence. Only rarely, wandering through this world, did we feel that someone was trying to tell us something.

– Mark Slouka, Lost Lake


I think there's a kind of desperate hope... that one really wants, hopelessly, to save the world. One is trying to say everything that can be said for the things that one loves while there's still time.

– W. S. Merwin


We don’t look at the natural world directly anymore, not much. Most often we see it at some remove. A vista point, a park, a trail. An arrangement. A diorama.

Even nature photography has tropes and conventions that hold us at a distance. What’s more banal than a close-up of a flower? Or a long shot of a herd crossing a plain, side-lit by the rising sun?

Technology offers ever more sophisticated simulacra of what we’re losing. Now you can buy a radio-controlled animatronic penguin (with real feathers). Resin-cast elephants stepping into unfamiliar terrain may be the only kind our children’s children will have.

If there even is such a thing as wilderness now, maybe it’s in places that escape our notice. Undersea, at night. The inside of a leaf.

A review once described my work as “fleshy and tender.” That’s more or less what I’m after.

 

 

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A note about the process:

The process I use for some of my pictures is a bit unusual, with digital technology replacing not only the darkroom, but the camera as well. I sometimes (but not always) use a flatbed scanner as a camera, which offers interesting opportunities and limitations. Unlike a traditional camera, it captures an image by slowly moving both the light and the lens across the subject, essentially lighting and photographing it from multiple angles in one long exposure. This produces a single image stitched together from thousands of tiny slivers, to which I then make endless, minute adjustments. This offers a view that can't be seen through a camera lens or the naked eye, and illumination that can't be duplicated with fixed lights. It also offers a uniquely detailed view, as I magnify each image and work on it down to a level of detail that will never be seen in the finished print. Full-resolution prints of some of the images can be as wide as sixty inches, and enlargements as big as 300 inches (25 feet) wide have been made without loss of detail.

People sometimes refer to this kind of work as scanner photography, scanography, scanograms, flower scans, scanning, and so on. I still call it photography, because a photograph is a picture made with light, and today there are many alternative processes for making photographs, including various camera-less methods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Copyright 2000-2013 Doris Mitsch

 

 

 

 

 

 

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