David McCrae

The history of photography is replete with examples of image capture without a camera. My present focus, ‘From a Scanner, Darkly,’ began when I had no time to work with film. Instead, a scanner and a computer became my substitute for photosensitive materials and a darkroom. The subject matter initially came from the pantry and the garden. Food and flowers; simple subjects but not mundane, for they feed the body and the mind.

We returned to Seattle in 2008 after 18 years in Berkeley and resumed shopping at the Pike Place Market. I felt the need to honor the people we bought produce from, for they work hard with not much recompense. Frank’s Quality Produce has been run by the Genzale family since 1928 and we buy from Frank, Jr., the 4th generation. Alm Hill Farm is a Skagit Valley farm growing flowers and produce for farmers’ markets.

I first learned analog photographic processes and darkroom manipulations. Despite all the options that Photoshop and Lightroom offer, I process my digital images as though I were in the darkroom. Contrast adjustment, burning and dodging, and color adjustment are all I modify.

In 2015, we saw a show of sumi-e paintings at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle and I was inspired.  These images are heavily manipulated to turn a color photograph into a sumi-e style image. The image, Take, (pronounced Ta kay) was awarded first place in a juried competition, but only after I ‘showed my work’ to prove it was not a photo of a sumi-e painting. That is when I named this series Sumi-esque. They are printed on Niyodo kozo mulberry paper.

The latest work, ‘From a Scanner, Lightly,’ started when I bought an inexpensive scanner that is powered by the USB port of a laptop. I was excited to go outside to see what would obtain. The scanner provides unique images when operated in bright light, an unintended mode of operation.