Digital Lumina is fine art stuio of father and son team Matt and Luke Belge.  The name we chose for our photographic efforts. Lumina, of course, is Latin for light. With the emergence of digital imaging, new possiblitiies emerge that were not possible with film.

One of those possibities is HDR photography. High Dynamic Range is a type of photography that seeks to more faithfully recreate what the human eye sees.  The image above, Sun and Marsh Fields in Winter, is one such HDR image. It was created from 7 separate images, each successfully brighter than the one before it, taken just a milliseconds apart. The very darkest images allow us to capture very bright parts of the image, such as the sky and the sun. In conventiional photography these images would show the bright part of the image as ccompletely blown out - all white, with no detail at all. The very brightest of the images allows us to capture details where, in a conventional photo, that area of the image woud be completely black.

In the above image, the cattails and the reflection on the ice in the foreground are examples of the details that HDR helps us capture, and would have been previously lost in dark shadow.  Using special software, the images are comnbined, where the details of each image are preserved, and we get the sun and the clouds in the sky (both of which are very bright, relatively speaking).  We also get the cattails and the grass, not as dark silhouttes, but as the human eye would see them, with great, luminous detail.

It was HDR imaging that first caught our attention as to the possibilities that the new digital imaging could bring, and we became very excited. A new era was opening up. Like any technique, be it oil painting, or bronze sculpture, or installation art, it is important to develop a new vocabulary that is authentic and artistically compelling.  We strive to make real art, and to honor the possibilities of our techniques without becoming blinded by them. When it works well, we believe it captures the landscape in a more intimate way and a way much closer to how we experience them in nature.

 For example, this next image, Skyscrapers, was taken in Muir Woods at dawn. These majestic trees literally scrape the sky - their porous pine needles are designed to suck in moisture from the coastal mists, because the branches are too high up from the ground to receive water from the roots. And when one looks up at them one sees the moss and the burn marks on the tree trunks, and one also sees the clouds in the sky and the feathery green leaves reaching out to touch them. In scientific terms, this is an inredible range of dark to light, on the order of 100,000 to 1 or more. Any yet our eyes handle this effortlessly, so much so that we take it for granted. But a traditional film image would either have the sky pure white (because it is too bright to capture any detail) or the tree would be a black silhoutte, devoid of detail, because it was too dark. To capture this image, we needed nine (!) separate images, each one successfully brighter, to capture the full range of dark to light available in the native landscape. Special condiitions are required, for example, if it is windy the flora will move and the sequential images can not be blended properly. The best images are typically backlit - the sun behind the landscape, but if the sun is too bright,  or the lens isn't of the highest standards, the image will break up into unnatural colors. It is circumstances like these that challenge us, and yet inspire us, to bring back the light the way we experience it when we are out in the fields.

 While working with HDR, we gradually became inspired to go beyond representational images, and to create ones that capture the emotion and the spirituality inherent in living landscapes. The aware viewer is constantly given the opportunity to experience what Bachelard calls "Intimate immensity" - that feeling of being both closely, deeply connected to nature, and yet also feeling the infinite right within the walls of our being. It was this feeling that inspired us to create our Gnostic series, seeking to capture the deep knowing that is within our being and within all of nature. The image that follows, Birch Gnosis, is one of these images.  Birch Gnosis was created when we were observing a stand of lovely birch trees in the Fall in coastal Maine. We were so taken by the lovely, graceful, arching toward the sky gestures, of these lovely creatures that we began sweeping the camera up and down, blurring the image, in a way that honored the superb efforts of these elegant lifeforms. We then combined three separate images to evoke the feeling of being with these lithe trees. And so it is with all of our Gnostic gallery  - we seek not to capture the image picrtorially, but emotionally and spiritually, moving deep beneath the surface to the essence within. 


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