In a fundamental way photography translates the four dimensions
we experience of the world into two. The photographer directs this
transformation and can influence it in ways that the viewer might
not be aware of. The photographer can influence perception to
signify, emphasize or change the meaning of things, places and
events. To me one of photography's most potent virtues is its
unparalleled power to render in such exact detail what is in front of
the camera. Nothing convinces the eye like a photograph. I have
been working in the studio for years with large-format cameras
learning to control the dynamics of photographic image-making in
order to test that unique power and present the viewer with
believable evidence of unbelievable things.

People often assume there must be some sort of manipulation like
double-exposing, digital processing or darkroom tricks in my work
but all of it is done in front of the camera which simply records what
the camera was "looking" at. I work to make my pictures reveal
themselves slowly, as they possess different levels. Some layers are
revealed only upon re-viewing or when studying large prints. Some
layers become apparent only after time has passed.

Among the things I have been working with extensively is the
concept of focus as a layer in the image. The cameras I use allow
me to adjust the orientation of the plane the camera will focus on.
For instance in the
Water Series pictures in my book, Aquatique,
the viewer and a figure are separated by the surface of a body of
water. The camera is always focused on the plane of the surface of
the water which maximizes the surprising optical effects of
refraction and reflection. The images picture that surface as the
place where the realms of the physical and spiritual meet. In other
recent studio work, the
Figure/Foliage images, focus is used to
influence the perception of connection and how we are intertwined
with the natural world. My images which combine elements like
water or foliage with the human figure can be thought of as
meditations on the nature of our existence as physical as well as
spiritual beings. I mean the images to be celebratory, and reflect on
the dual nature of human life.

I'm interested in how we perceive things visually, and I strive to
make pictures that may have some perceptual puzzlement to them.
Perhaps the viewer is not even aware that a trick of perspective or
the strange optical properties of water might be at work in an image.
Hopefully a degree of wonder sets a dialog in motion between the
viewer and the picture. I think art reflects on the undefinable nature
of life and our place in nature. I hope viewers would be moved to
feel something of that mystery.

Brian Oglesbee
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