My name is Michael Kuznicki, and I’m an engineer and photographer. During my 50+ years on our pale blue dot, I’ve developed many (sometimes disparate) interests, and I find that subconsciously my photography has followed along the same lines. These interests shape my outlook on both my life and my art. I only photograph subjects in which I have a strong interest and a thorough understanding. This familiarity allows me to better capture the intrinsic nature of those subjects, and further enables me to express that essence to the viewer. How dispassionate it would be if I no personal connection to the principal objects in my images! Working in a highly technical field for a good part of my adult life has also greatly influenced my photography. As a confrere recently pointed out, “Your background as an engineer is quite apparent through your body of work with your interest in mechanics, futurism and outdoor science.”
Over the past five years or so, my interests in (and passion for) photography have steadily grown. I am fascinated by subject, technique and gear alike. Blending science and art has become my objective, and I compose, shoot and process my images to be both aesthetically pleasing and to highlight the technical and scientific aspects of my subjects. Hoping that my images invite more than just a passing glance on the web, I aim to inspire those viewing my work to appreciate and take an interest in the beauty of science and the wonders of technology that surround them.
EMBRACING THE DIGITAL DARKROOM
I’m of the opinion that digital post-processing is a valuable tool, one that requires considerable practice and experience to master. Like any other tool, in any profession, it is an asset only if used appropriately, judiciously and with great care. Although I’m proud of my photographs “as shot,” I’m also proud when I can apply finishing techniques to further enhance their impact while still retaining their true character.
Somewhere in the brief history of digital photography, digital image processing got a bad reputation among a certain camp of photographers. I’m not sure whether digital post-processing truly offends their sensibilities or whether they shun it out of fear or ignorance. Regardless, I can’t quite understand their point of view. After all, isn’t computer software just another tool in a photographer’s toolbox?
Many of the most influential and well-known photographers of the 19th and 20th century relied heavily on darkroom “trickery” to achieve their desired results. I’m not going to apologize because it’s exponentially easier to achieve those same results today with software, nor am I going to avoid taking advantage of this powerful tool. My mission is to create an engaging work of art, one that captures your attention enough to take a place of honor on your wall. My most important tools, or course, are my eyes and my camera. If I happen to need a tripod, or a filter, or a studio strobe to capture an image the way that I imagine it, then I’ll certainly make use of those tools. If I need to post-process a digital image to bring out its personality, then I’ll certainly use that tool as well. I see no hypocrisy or conflict in doing so.
That said, two “effects” that you will never see in my images are simulated bokeh and shallow depth of field. Images with these “effects” seem to be gaining in popularity, and I personally find them unsightly, offensive and indicative of either poor planning or a lack of skill on the photographer’s part.
WHY I USE A PROFESSIONAL PRINT SHOP
Photography has always been a delicate blend of art and science. In the days of film, much of the art aspect of the process took place in the darkroom. The professional photographer spent a considerable amount of time experimenting with and modifying the developing process to achieve his or her desired results. Today, with most of us shooting digital, the balance of work has shifted considerably. We can now complete a greater portion of the total process while still in digital format, minimizing the printing to a very precise, yet relatively simple, operation. As long as I understand the print shop’s equipment and processes, I can leave it to them to do what they do best.
I use several different professional print labs, with the selection based on the requirements of the final product. For example, I use one particular lab for photographic prints and canvas gallery wraps, a different lab for acrylic prints and blocks, another for sublimation on aluminum and yet another for direct printing on aluminum. I can’t imagine trying to purchase and maintain all the equipment needed to print this vast variety of products in my studio. Quality would surely suffer, and my prices would be exorbitant. My workflow, color management and calibration have all been refined with each lab’s equipment and processes in mind. When I submit an image file for printing, I have complete confidence that the finished product will meet my (and your) expectations.
Unless specifically stated otherwise, each image in my portfolio is an original and was photographed personally by me. Occasionally, you might come across an image credited to my wife or son, and very rarely you might also find a public domain image, properly credited, that I feel is worth sharing.