This year's AlaskaWild 2000 photography show up now at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center is a visual feast for nature and wildlife lovers, as well as aficionados of cutting-edge digital imaging.
All the prints in this show depict the grandeur of our state and the variety in our wildlife. And while most of the photographs are traditional color or black-and-white prints, some images are digitally enhanced. A few of those prints appear to have come from high quality computer printers.
The most stunning digital image is "Chugach Fantasy" by Bruce Herman. Every element in the photo of a figure walking down a wooded path seems to have taken on a morphed and melted aspect. It's similar to a technique used on Polaroid instant one-piece prints, where a stylus is used to manipulate the still liquid emulsion under the clear plastic face of the print before it sets.
"Chugach Fantasy," by Bruce Herman
Too big to be a Polaroid, "Chugach Fantasy" could be an enlargement of one, but in this day and age, the use of a few Photoshop filters on a fast Macintosh is all it takes to achieve the effect in a matter of minutes.
But this does not detract from the artist's skill in composition and selection of effects. The digital imaging age has not taken away the artistic eye required to produce top-quality work.
Another digital image, which won first place and best of show in the experimental and alternative category, was John DeLapp's "Birches."
A photo of birch trees in autumn, the naturally vibrant colors are "Photoshopped," or digitally enhanced, to the point of extreme brilliance.
The joined diptych "Kenai Dipnetters" by James Brady is an image that makes you wonder if it has a foot in the digital world.
"Kenai Dipnetters," by James Brady
Printed on watercolor paper, the print shows the silhouette of dipnetters before a rich sunset, seeking the valued red salmon.
At first blush, one can't imagine this picture to be anything but digitally printed, though certain emulsion transfer techniques could have been used to build up the image.
The uncertainty of what techniques the artists employ stems from the lack of information supplied with the show. Not even present are the traditional "silver print" or "Type-C print" appellations commonly present in photography exhibitions.
"Snow Birds," by Jo Overholt
While frustrating to the curious, it takes nothing away from the enjoyment of viewing the work of some of Alaska's best outdoor and wildlife photographers.
Traditional photographs still dominate the show, and, of course, wildlife still tops the list of what Alaskans like to take pictures of.
"Snow Birds" by Jo Over-holt is a perfect image in every respect. The composition, the lighting and the serendipity to be there at the right moment make this flock of swans, bedded down in a snowstorm, with one stretching its wings, a show-stopper.
There are many stunning images in the AlaskaWild 2000 show. See them for yourself. The show hangs at the center until Nov. 18.
"Back Talk," by Jennifer Fogle
Hours of the center are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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