The Nature series consists of four books, Art of Nature, Shades of Nature, Ref lection and Moods of Nature.
nature + art
It was 2006 and I had a collection of strange images hiding in the back of my photographic slide drawers. I marked them with a large E on the corner, for ‘Elite’. But some I had marked with an X, for the rubbish bin. Only much later when I sifted through the rejects did I discover these X-filed mutants. And that is why, to this day, I never delete any of my photographs anymore.
With Art of Nature I divided the book into chapters according to the elements of art. The only criterion for an image to have been included in the book was its artistic value. I didn’t care about animal behaviour, action, or the uniqueness of the species. All I looked at was artistic merit. To complement the images, I decided to write artistic captions. I wrote what I really thought while photographing the images or looking at them, instead of what I thought people would want to read. My philosophy was that everything I did for this book had to be what I really wanted to do, regardless of what people thought of it. Some people hated it. Friends had almost aggressive reactions when they read the captions. They hated them so much that they went out of their way to let me know how much. But most people loved them. Nobody was indifferent to them. During that time I read that a famous author said that if he didn’t get very diverse reactions to his writing, that he knew he should redo it. Indifference is the enemy – not bad reviews.
nature + shades
After four years I created another art book. This time I ventured back into the world of black and white photography. The breakthrough for me came when I discovered that black and white as a photographic medium is not based on subtraction, but addition. When converting a colour image into a good black and white one, you need to add more to it than the colours you remove. I realised colour sometimes hides a photograph’s deeper meaning. It tends to mask emotion and character, and when you convert an image to black and white correctly, that emotion and character magically appear. For me, black and white is not about sight, but about the deeper emotion. Colour photography is like a novel that spells everything out in detail, whereas black-and-white photography is like poetry – its strength isn’t in what’s said: it’s in what’s left out.
To print Shades of Nature I opted for printing in duotone, using black and cool grey inks. I wanted to present the images as visually neutral and untoned as possible. I didn’t want sepia images, as I wanted to remove any trace of colour from the image, to reveal as much of the character and emotions of the subjects as possible.
nature + reflection
Four years later, in 2014, I published Ref lection. This was a huge project and the biggest book yet. I have never liked colour and black and white mixed, as I believe that you look differently at colour images from how you look at black and white ones. You look at colour images with your eyes, and you look at black and white images with everything but your eyes. In this book I gradually changed the colour of the images from neutral black and white at the beginning, to sepia, and then to all the colours of the rainbow at the end. To do this I had to use a complicated and advanced printing process. We normally print books in the four CMYK inks (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) but for this book I opted to use eight – CMYK, plus an extra black ink, a sepia, a warm grey and a cool grey. Each section of 16 pages in the book used a different combination of inks.
nature + moods
And now four years later, I have published Moods of Nature. The book has evolved significantly since its conception, as my moods changed. It started full of colour, but in the end the only colour that remained was the mood colour of nature – the colour of sunsets. To print this book I used two different printing processes – Sepiana for the black and white printing, and Chromacentric for the colour images. The Sepiana process uses various grey and black inks, and Chromacentric a special technique to enlarge the gamut of the colour it can print. If this book changes the mood of one reader, even if it is just for one minute, I will be satisfied.