The teeth of the northern elephant seal brought me to photography in 1965.
Undertaking a research project to determine the age of these large creatures I had to invent a technique to see and count a tooth’s dentine rings--similar to a tree's rings to indicate seasons of growth by number, thickness, and brightness. Experimenting with various preparations and lighting I found I could illuminate the rings by taking close-up photographs of cross sections of the teeth with a now antiquated camera set-up. As I learned camera and darkroom technique I became an avid nature photographer, developing hundreds of my own black and white images.
Now I take digital photographs. I try to capture some of the shape, form, light, and design in the natural world. I have to step aside, take time, become slow, and still, engaging in silent study. I lie or sit at the edge of streams, swamps, and seeps; or among trees and in fields. In winter I fight the cold as I squiggle on my stomach across ice or lie in snow; in summer I fight ticks and mosquitoes. (Occasionally I photograph a traditional landscape if it happens to present itself.)
I am deeply troubled about the future of our planet and how that future will affect all life on earth. The biosphere is an interconnected system. Its rocks, soil, water, atmospheric gases and organisms unremittingly interact, shaping and maintaining a life-sustaining environment. It is clear that we are endangering significantly this delicately balanced system.
As I photograph I think about this balance and how little I know of what is really going on in front of me—how much I cannot see—yet I have a deep emotional response to what I do see, knowing that it is an infinitesimal part of a life-sustaining whole, a part I try to illuminate--- its shape, form, light and mystery.