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Artist blends photography with technology

Photographer captures details with tech, beauty

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Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2012 9:48 pm

Blend technology and art for beautiful, unique results? Purists might shake their heads at such a marriage.

Not so El Granada resident Dan Ambrosi, who is emerging in the art world with lush, dramatic, finely detailed photographs he creates with affordable equipment and precise technological processes.

“I feel like I’ve cracked the code for using simple photographic tools and software tools,” said Ambrosi. “It’s less about photography than it is about image-making.”

Browsers for high-end home décor at the Adobe and Gallery M shops in Half Moon Bay will see the results of that cracked code, “Danorama’s Panoramas.”

Local landscapes and town scenes, with strongly saturated color, dramatic skies and detail that pop out with painterly precision, are captured on aluminum under a special coating. Frameless and glassless, they reflect reality: Ambrosi says he constantly hears viewers say they feel they could walk right into the picture.

“You see sharp detail everywhere you look,” he said.

Getting the full, detailed experience of a place is the artistic goal that led Ambrosi to develop his technique. His art, he said, was born of frustration at not being able to capture the feeling and experience of subjects with traditional photography.

What was missing, he said, was being able to see a subject, and all its colors and contrasts, with the expanded perception — that “very wide field of vision” you get from just looking.

So he developed his “data-driven art.” “My art is less about photography and more about curating, collecting and assembling a set of photos with a sophisticated software workflow,” he said.

His bachelor’s degree in architecture and master’s degree in computer graphics, both from Cornell University, helped. While not a “natural illustrator,” he wrote in an artist’s statement, “I do believe I have a knack for gathering, organizing and presenting source material, particularly of a visual nature, in novel and compelling ways.”

The final puzzle pieces came together, he said, on a September 2011 hike in Utah’s red-rock country.

With a $350 Canon S100 point-and-shoot camera set on the express shutter, he snaps multiple and overlapping views that are under-exposed, normal and over-exposed, of a scene’s horizontal and vertical planes. Then he blends the multiple exposures through Photo Matrix. He uses PTGui software to seamlessly stitch images together, and taps Photoshop for final polish, “adding a touch of vibrancy and (color) saturation that enable me to recapture the experience.”

He creates images in two-by-three shapes sized from 12-inches-to-18-inches to 24-by-36 for $125 to $475, and the one-by-three shape, 12-inches-by-36-inches, at $275. New to his visual repertoire is sepia-toned images, and he is working on a series of Napa images.

There are two distinct categories of designers and design types, he said: one type that takes in details and the other that takes in the big picture. “I knew right away which I was,” he said. “I gravitate to the big picture, but at the same time, I’m very detail-oriented.

The name “Danorama’s Panoramas” grew out of a remark his wife made 25 years ago, when she said “you’re always talking about the big picture view.”

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