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Review of Dee Kotaska

by John Clay

Dee Kotaska's photography captures the surprising forms and textures of the natural world. Sometimes it is the organic form of one living thing, as in "Birch Curl". Other times it is the form which elements of nature find through their interaction, as in "Swans".

Kotaska has a good eye for form, and for the distinct and unexpected in nature. Photoshopping images to create special effects can be treacherous territory even for experienced photographers, but Kotaska's effects often succeed in enhancing the image. She successfully features a naturalistic subject by contrasting it against a blurred background in "Birch Curl" and "Bud". She creates a playful interpretation of a natural subject by saturating (pumping up) the colors in "Lily Pads".

Although some shots, like "Lily Pads", are flawlessly composed, placing the subject in just the right spot within the photographic frame, in other shots the artist's forms would be more powerful if captured more fully by pulling back the camera a little further from the subject. A fascination for close-up texture or focus on one element of form sometimes results in cropping which deprives the viewer of the complete form. In "Birch Curl", an upward-thrusting point at the top right of the curl is cropped off. In "Swans" the mirror image form created by two swans facing opposite directions is captured, yet the additional mirror image of both swans reflected in water—surely a worthy element of the theme of symmetries—is cropped off. In "White-Green-White", the tips of the evergreen branches are lost by a fraction. A photographer can't capture the whole world in a shot. But more selective attention to the subject's context could allow a fuller presentation of its form.

I would love to see more exploration of subjects shown as shot, with less manipulation of the image, because this is one of Kotaska's special gifts—an eye for nature's own talent in form and texture. But I don't want to stop seeing Kotaska's playful blurring and coloring of other images. It will be a pleasure to see how far the photographer can travel in each direction: natural revelation and technical manipulation.

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