My current work involves the use of a drone-based camera to depict familiar structures and landscapes from a fresh or unusual perspective. Although many drone photos are taken at an angle, I prefer the direct down shot. I am particularly interested in built environments which are usually populated but not occupied when photographed. I like the way that the abstract structures complicate and interact with our sense of the absence of human beings. I have photographed quarries, livestock fields, junkyards, and other subjects, but I am especially drawn to play spaces, from tennis courts and playgrounds to swimming pools and amusement parks. Consumer drones have a limited carrying capacity, and getting an acceptable quality image with a GoPro camera can be a challenge. I replaced the original fisheye lens with a more rectilinear lens, and most images are stitched from a number of captures.
— Bob Gates, Jamesville, New York, USA
The camera is a mirror that allows me to see my surroundings with new eyes while at the same time becoming more aware of myself. Out at night, alone, the day’s cares recede and the sense of time fades. Allowing a heightened awareness to take over, I direct my attention to conveying the quiet and solitude of the night. It is this shift in attention, I believe, that allows me to experience the moment with a different vision.
I photograph the landscape at night and at dawn. The camera captures the frames as stills, freezing time, regardless of the length of the exposure, and creating an image different from what the eye perceives. I like to believe that these resulting images are from a moment suspended between night and day.
My exposure and printing decisions enable me to take the surroundings I know so well and present them as they have not been seen before. What fascinates me about this process is that magical element of surprise. I venture out in search of scenes that contain an unknown light source of have some other mysterious quality. Of course there are times when I don’t find anything. Since the night sets the stage, I never know where I will wind up. It reminds me so much of life.
— Bob Avakian, Edgartown, Massachusetts, USA