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A PHOTOGRAPHERS JOURNAL

Abstraction Finds Beauty in Beasts

Story and Photo illustrations by

MICHAEL D. KERN

P

eople have an almost primeval fear of reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids. As humans have evolved, weve learned to avoid these animals, for good reason, in many cases. That means most of us never get to experience and appreciate their beauty. And some of these species need our help. By using abstraction to remove fear and prejudice, Im trying to help people see the beauty in the beast. I start by shooting a portrait of an animal; then I deconstruct it into its most basic elements: color, line, pattern, texture. Those isolated features are the building blocks of a new image, which I alter in Photoshop, making a mirror image of a cropped portion, cropping a portion of the mirrored image, and so on. The result is a pair of portraits: one abstract, one of reality. Some of the creatures that have formed the base of Kerns imagemaking, clockwise from left: variable bush viper, Temmincks tragopan, Johnstons three-horned chameleon, rainbow millipede, African flower mantis, panther chameleon, and greenbottle blue tarantula. The Temmincks tragopan was photographed at Pandemonium Aviaries in Los Altos, California. I began this series almost by accident. I wanted to create a letterhead logo for my photography business, and since Id always loved reptiles, I photographed an iguana. I thought one of its eyes was striking as a stand-alone picture, but it wasnt the right size for the letterhead. So I tried mirroring the image on top of itself. What emerged was both beautiful and surrea,unlike anything in nature, even though it was wholly based in nature. At my shows I like to present the abstract images first. Initially when people look at them, I think they sense a tension between the prettiness of a picture and their fear of the subject its made from. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed felis tellus, accumsan eu lectus ac, fermentum dapibus arcu. Proin id ligula non lectus tempus ultrices. Ut viverra justo eget posuere rhoncus. Maecenas efficitur ipsum felis. Ut fringilla hendrerit laoreet. Sed euismod sagittis vestibulum. Integer ligula orci, pellentesque eget nunc at, imperdiet rutrum risus. Maecenas scelerisque diam eget sapien feugiat dapibus. Phasellus scelerisque hendrerit nisl. Nunc consectetur nulla nec molestie venenatis. Vestibulum nulla ligula, viverra id ultricies sed, imperdiet fringilla velit. Mauris in odio leo. Nullam fermentum vehicula urna eu rhoncus. Etiam ornare mi et sem dapibus bibendum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed felis tellus, accumsan eu lectus ac, fermentum dapibus arcu. Proin id ligula non lectus tempus ultrices. Ut viverra justo eget posuere rhoncus. Maecenas efficitur ipsum felis. Ut fringilla hendrerit laoreet. Sed euismod sagittis vestibulum. Integer ligula orci, pellentesque eget nunc at, imperdiet rutrum risus. Maecenas scelerisque diam eget sapien feugiat dapibus. Phasellus scelerisque hendrerit nisl. Nunc consectetur nulla nec molestie venenatis. Vestibulum nulla ligula, viverra id ultricies sed, imperdiet fringilla velit. Mauris in odio leo. Nullam fermentum vehicula urna eu rhoncus. Etiam ornare mi et sem dapibus bibendum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed felis tellus, accumsan eu lectus ac, fermentum dapibus arcu. Proin id ligula non lectus tempus ultrices. Ut viverra justo eget posuere rhoncus. Maecenas efficitur ipsum felis. Ut fringilla hendrerit laoreet. Sed euismod sagittis vestibulum. Integer ligula orci, pellentesque eget nunc at, imperdiet rutrum risus. Maecenas scelerisque diam eget sapien feugiat dapibus. Phasellus scelerisque hendrerit nisl. Nunc consectetur nulla nec molestie venenatis. Vestibulum nulla ligula, viverra id ultricies sed, imperdiet fringilla velit. Mauris in odio leo. Nullam fermentum vehicula urna eu rhoncus. Etiam ornare mi et sem dapibus bibendum.