Saturday, October 13, 2007

An image of beauty and peace

Tom Watson is a photographer from Skaneateles, NY, who uses satellite image technology to take beautiful, sweeping panoramic photographs. A few months ago, he spent time in Community General Hospital when a loved one was hospitalized here, and he noticed a poster of an Ansel Adams photograph on Four North, across from room 456.

As Mr. Watson explained to me:

My wife, Sue, and I spent the afternoon at the beginning of my career with Ansel Adams and his wife, Virginia. His work has inspired me, his books have taught me and if he were alive today, I believe he would be working in the same (digital) technology that I do now.

Mr. Watson has donated one of his own digital photographs to the Four North waiting area, across from the public elevators. “I hope that it will also bring comfort to others attending their loved ones at CGH,” he said.

On my rounds this morning, I visited Four North and studied Mr. Watson’s five-by-two-foot print of Hesperis Matronalis,[1] shown above. When the illumination is complete and a plaque in place, we will have a small ceremony to acknowledge Mr. Watson’s generosity.

I am no expert on photography, but I know that Ansel Adams was remarkable as an artist, not just for his eye, which captured the grandeur of nature, but for his technique, which combined in a single photograph richly evocative shadows and brilliant highlights.

“We have digital image tools that Mr. Adams never imagined, but would wholeheartedly embrace. He was an artist and a technician,” explains Tom Watson in IATH Best Practices Guide to Digital Panoramic Photography[2]

Mr. Watson uses those digital tools to create his own detail-rich photos that capture the dynamics of light, dark, and color. When you are on Four North, take a moment to study the texture of the tree bark in Mr. Watson’s photograph. Then examine the colors of the lilacs, the sunlight on the tree leaves, and the shadows of the woods.

A smaller, signed print of Hesperis Matronalis is being offered as a premium gift to all who make donations of $250 or more in this fall’s Circle of Friends campaign, being conducted by the Community General Foundation. Other examples of Mr. Watson’s high-definition digital images may be seen in articles about him in Wired and AIArchitect.

Thank you, Tom Watson, for the gift of your art, which brings to our clinical world an image of beauty and peace.

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[1] Tom Watson explains: “This photograph, Hesperis Matronalis, represents 4 trips and 8 hours standing behind the camera waiting for the optimum conditions. I produced at least 20 different image files to then narrow my selection to this one image. This continuous panorama (no stitching) could only be produced with a view camera and a scanning, 144 mega pixel digital back.”

[2] In IATH Best Practices Guide to Digital Panoramic Photography, see section 2.5 and find the text written by Tom Watson. Go to Figure 6, a panoramic view of the Academical Village at the University of Virginia. By repeatedly clicking on the image, you zoom in to discover the many people present, each one very much an individual.

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