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I spent much of my life in West Michigan, born and raised in Grand Rapids near the eastern shoreline of the Big Lake. There I learned to love and respect the natural world. For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed being outdoors... exploring the majesty and wonder of nature by way of the back roads and out-of-the-way paths seldom traveled. Though its power and fury were often felt, especially in Michigan's harsh winters and stormy springs, it was the quiet and tranquility within nature's beauty that captivated me from a very young age and made a lasting impression. My desire to record these personal outdoor adventures led me to photography, an avocation that developed into an avenue for artistic self expression.

Today nature continues to captivate me and I feel very fortunate to be living in Southwest Virginia now. The rugged beauty and splendor of the Appalachian Mountains, its diverse ecology and geology, provides me with motivation and inspiration, and a never ending source of subjects. There is a timeless, incorruptible magnificence in these surroundings and it is my artistic vision as a photographer to convey them through the language of imagery, a process that instills within me a deep sense of satisfaction. My goal is not to entertain with pretty pictures but to communicate moments from my own experience that have been more substance than shadow; to capture timeless, random moments where routine existence seems to give way to a heightened consciousness... the dramatic play of light and shadow on rocky outcrops or the swirling patterns of rushing waterfalls; the feeling of hiking up a mountain, walking along a pond on a quiet, foggy morning, or trekking through fresh snow. Seeing the patterns of ripples on the water or the texture of leaves moving in a gentle breeze develops a visual connection with the natural world. My creative process begins within my heart and mind, then within the camera itself. I draw upon my personal vision of light, color, texture, shape, and composition, my technical skills with the tools of my trade, as well as my knowledge and love of the subjects themselves, to capture them for display. My work relies on simple and straightforward compositions where clarity is preserved. By using the camera's power to frame and isolate I aim to create a visual commentary on my subjects. It requires patience and careful observation. Color, form and design offer themselves to the observant eye at the right time of day, in shade, in rain, or with clouds hiding harsh sunlight. Waiting is essential of course, but well worth it when the camera captures the right mood and records a stunning moment in time.

With camera and computer, I try to express what I can only hint at with words. My form of photography stems from a life-long interest in science and technology. The marriage of traditional techniques with technological innovation has opened the door to limitless artistic creativity and vision, becoming what I feel will be the true art of the future. The digital camera technologies now available offer exciting, new creative outlets to photographers... technologies that I have fully embraced. And with the advent of high resolution printers using richly colored archival (long lived) ink sets and a range of fine papers, I have abandoned the "ink-jet" methods. The much improved color, contrast, and tonal range control available in this new medium make it my strong preference for printing my work. Consequently, my images are printed directly by me on a high-quality Olympus "dye sublimation" printer. Each piece displayed is an accurate representation of what I captured on digital film. Once printed, I then personally mount each print on a backing board, double mat with acid-free matting, and hand sign every piece to insure its quality and authenticity. If, through my photography, I am able to share even a tiny bit of the beauty that I have been fortunate enough to experience, it will have been a worthwhile effort indeed.

Craig A. Wicks

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