Danielle Edwards winner of the 2019 Mike Ware Award

Danielle Edwards winner of the 2019 Mike Ware Award

Danielle Edwards won this year’s Mike Ware Award at annual Gold Street Studios & Gallery The Print Exposed Exhibition. The award is made ‘on the combination of visual artistic merit, the craftsmanship of the work and the control of the scientific processes that create the image’.

The Sentinel Eucalyptus camaldulensis. Infrared platinum/palladium print.

Here Danielle explains how the photograph was made.

This iconic Australian red gum was photographed in Pomonal, Victoria, on acreage that has been owned by one family for four generations. It is located adjacent to the Grampians Paradise Camping and Caravan Parkland. I can only begin to imagine what this tree has witnessed and the stories it could tell. I am in awe of its stature and survival throughout the years surviving many floods and bush fires in the area.

The image was captured in infrared via an IR converted digital camera utilising a technique often reserved for scientific imaging. As a final outcome I wanted a hand-crafted print demonstrating the quality and feel of platinum palladium. Something tangible and beautiful that you can hold in your hand, that has dimension, depth of tone and individuality, emulating the unique characteristics and qualities of the red gum bark and canopy of the tree.

Infrared is a technique I often use. Plants reflect and absorb infrared giving the white appearance that’s often associated with the technique. In many photographic books the “magic hour” is referred to as sunrise and sunset, the optimum time to take photographs. As far as light, or rather, invisible radiation is concerned, I find with infrared the time of day that no one normally wants to get their camera out, noon, is the best time for infrared capture.

It seemed appropriate to print this tree in platinum palladium for several reasons. Next to silver gelatin I feel that it captures all the tones in the final photographic print that many other alternative or historical processes don’t deliver (for me). The tree is slow growing and very old and most likely it was a young tree around the birth of photography. For this reason alone it felt right to print it in the platinum palladium process, one of the early and historically successful commercial photographic processes. A slow and sensitive process for a slow growing beauty.

The combination of a new device (digital camera) and an old printing-out process on an old tree completes the circle and demonstrates how old and new are complimentary to each other. Each element features its own particular benefits and adds to the process of photography. It also demonstrates that everything old becomes new again. This seems especially true in the field of photography.

In its simplest form, photography distils down to a box (camera) with a lens (or pin hole) that focuses light onto a capture device, either film or a digital sensor. No matter what type of cameras you choose, photography is all about the light and how you choose to capture it. It’s an individual pursuit and one that still gives me great pleasure after working in this field for over 30 years. The enjoyment for me is in the whole process, and the steps involved from image capture to print.

This venerable giant of a tree was photographed in infrared on a converted DSLR and contact printed in platinum palladium on Berger COT 160 paper via an inkjet digital negative. My intent was to capture its essence, the majestic quality of the tree and the light streaming through the canopy. Photography for me is all about the quality of light and tone. I often photograph botanical subjects with backlighting as I like to highlight the beautiful structures in the plants. Infrared also interprets tonality in a way the eye cannot see.

In photographing this sentinel red gum I hope to impart some of the wonderment associated with trees of remarkable age.

This photograph can be seen at The Print Exposed exhibition Gold Street Studios & Gallery until 26 May 2019

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Danielle Edwards is a photographer and Director of Communications with the BioCommunications Association.

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