Brian Dukes Photography

The image begins long before and ends long after the shutter is pressed.
© Brian Dukes

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That defining moment

For the last couple of years I've been very much a hobbyist photographer, and like most I'd take 100's of shots, shooting anything an everything without plan without direction - and if I was lucky there'd be a few images that I could use, mostly with alot of photo-manipulation to hide less than perfect photographic skills.

2014 was a year where I began to really get my act together, I was searching for the inner Artist, searching for my vision. Sadly 2014 began quite badly and there were lots of distractions from being able to get out there with a camera, any personal progression had been pushed out of sight.

So on the 8th June 2014 I visited The Welsh Mountain Zoo, Colwyn Bay, Wales - a lovely Zoo that do loads for animal conservation, a really relaxed place  - recommend a visit if you're ever in the area!

And so just like any other time out with the camera, I began as normal, click, click, click,  and then I began to slow down and to think about the shots I was taking, thinking about the composition, thinking about the image that I was just about to take.

At The Welsh Mountain Zoo, they have a Lemur enclosure that you can walk through, plenty of space for the Lemurs to run around and enjoy themselves - and this Lemur was very kind, sitting and posing for the camera and kindly allowing me to take his portrait.

The real *defining moment* came when I reached the Chimpanzee's - they were busy playing, having alot of fun, and then suddenly most of them disappear inside (I think it was lunchtime), apart from one, who began to go inside, but then paused - and in that moment, I saw a look on his face, a body position and had a 'Eureka' moment - I saw this image in my head, of the Chimp almost cowering in a dark corner; I envisioned a dark image, with the Chimp huggled up in a corner with just a little light on it.

Here is a 'crop' of the original image from camera:

Taken through some dirty and scratched glass window into the enclosure - certainly not the greatest photograph - and the scene I had in my head couldn't have been further from the truth,  it was a bright sunny day, the Chimps were happy, had been playing, were very well looked after.

So when I returned home, with some rather crude Photoshop and Lightroom skills, I took the source image, and created "Fear of The Dark" - I like titling my images, they help to set the scene for the story i'm trying to tell with my image.

For me "Fear of The Dark" was my defining moment, the first time I had an image appear in my head before pointed the camera and took the shot.

Those that know me (Hey Audie  -  I have to thank Audie because he bought an Aluminium print of this image, he loves it and as Audie will confirm I was worried over the print quality - but he loves it, and i'm thankful) will also know that I'm actually not totally happy with this image either - and that I don't see as a bad thing, i'm trying to push my work harder and harder;  at some point in the near future I want to recreate this image, with a better skill-set and a better idea of what i'm looking for, I will take time to create the image, and perhaps be finally happy with the image.

It is because of "Fear of The Dark" that I began photographing animals in 2015, pushing myself even harder, learning from previous mistakes and making the post processing steps simpler and yet more effective.

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