In my previous life as a neurobiologist, I spent many hours taking black and white film photomicrographs of the brain – arguably the most beautiful and complex structure in the known universe. I retired from research and photomicroscopy in 2005, but my interest in photography continued. As I no longer had access to darkroom facilities, I moved into the world of digital photography, which I initially liked but eventually found unsatisfying – it was too easy and I found I was shooting images promiscuously, without really putting much thought into composition. In the fall of 2010, I decided to break off my intense flirtation with digital images and to return to my first love, black and white film photography. Using a Nikon camera with a 50mm lens, I have looked at the real world in a different way – at reflections and shadows rather than the objects that create them, or at abstractions of larger objects, taking them out of their usual context and looking at them in a new way. I find this focus on composition to be intellectually as well as artistically rigorous, but still productive of aesthetically pleasing images. My work continues the tradition of Ansel Adams, Minor White, and Jan Gruber.
"Cold hearted orb that rules the night/removes the colours from our sight/Red is
grey, and yellow, white/but we decide which is right/and which is an illusion."
Days of Future Passed/The Moody Blues
Photography is all about light – it is the physicochemical reaction between a photon of light and a grain of silver halide that permits us to capture an image on film, and to print that image on photographic paper. The obverse of light is darkness, and the interplay of shadow and light in black and white photography makes this genre unique – pure composition, without the added distraction of color. This is what initially drew me to black and white photography – the Zen quality of the images, the yin and yang, capturing the binary nature of the universe.
Similarly, shadows – and reflections – of objects transcend their literal content and meaning, entering into the mystery of what constitutes reality. In the above image pair, which is real – and which is the illusion? If art consists of one limbic system communicating with another, which I believe it does, then the reality is in the eye of the beholder. In my photographs, I strive to distill the essence of the real world while asking the viewer to find his own reality within that image.