Reflections and Refractions – Art and Photography

On April 30, 2012 by James Watson

I remember when as a kid I joined my mother at a photography class.. I picked up a camera, didn’t pay much attention to the instructor, and started walking around an open field and taking pictures. I never saw the pictures I took, and for all I knew the camera was empty. For those who don’t understand what that means – the camera had film in it – we were not yet in a digital world.

Even then, I remember standing very close to flowers and plants, with the camera barely able to focus on the object that was only inches away from the lens. I remember laying in the grass and feeling the cool of the soil as I lay my camera to to the ground and captured what I thought insects would see. Even then, though I didn’t know it at the time, I approached photography as an exploration. Though there have been times when I have been very deliberate in art I am attempting to create or the image I am trying to capture with my camera, I more often am caught up in the process; in the experience.

James Watson - Travel & Inspire

Explore Life

I didn’t purchase my own first camera until I applied for a Masters in Architecture at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (my second time). At the time I was also learning 3D animation (Alias Maya), photo-editing (Photoshop), and constructing things out of model and building materials. (my portfolio submission to Sci-Arc, 2005).

At first I started to take pictures of everything. But very quickly I realized not only that I had to be selective, but that my photography skills, equipment, and knowledge (though pretty good for only having the camera for 4 months) were only “average.” They were not something that any child could possibly capture by accident among 1Gb of memory if you handed them a HandyCam. The product was not yet good enough. But the experience of taking pictures had become both habit and addiction. I rarely left the house without the camera, even when just going to lunch, and rarely came home with less than fifty images. I couldn’t take enough pictures of plants and trees and people and cars, and very often, I would get really close up.

I took a lot of pictures, but I needed to take better ones and decided to use everything at my disposal to bring these images from good to at least potentially great. I used Photoshop. Very quickly, I became wrapped up in the process of editing. How far could I take this image? And if I returned with a bunch of pictures but not a single good one, how could I use digital enhancement to make use of that time and virtual memory.

Again, it became about the process, and as I got better, I started exploring.

Phuket Thailand Sunset Point

Sunset Point - Phuket

I never consider myself a professional. I don’t think I have mastered any one aspect of photography or art to consider myself either. But I enjoy the process of capturing my moments, and seeing how much further I can take them. I find peace and comfort in becoming as much one with the subject – with the camera or pen or paint – as I possibly can, and sharing that experience with those who appreciate it.

When I can, I also take pictures of events, but they tend to be taken through a mobile device (especially in places where cameras are not allowed, but smartphones are) and upload them immediately to some social network, usually Facebook.

This is me. This is XORROX. These is my exploration, of the world and my time within it, reflecting and refracting and often determining my own brightness and contrast; my own hue and saturation. I don’t claim to be anything but me – a digital happy memory.


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