In the spring of 2001, my wife and I were invited to participate in a tea tour that took us to regions of China that are famous for producing tea. When I arrived in Wuyi Shan, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscape of the Wuyi Mountains, the peaks shrouded in mist, and in my mind, I could see all kinds of fantastic shapes. It was just so rich in atmosphere. As I took photographs of these mountains, I knew, as a surrealist, that I wanted to show steaming teapots and tea cups in the mist. When I arrived home, I downloaded my pictures, and I was able to produce these images by enhancing the shapes on the computer, creating "surrealistic photographs." I strived to preserve the realism of these photographs using special effects to recreate what I had seen in my mind.
On this tea tour, I was learning new things about tea and how it came to be. We visited a teapot factory in Yixing, particpated in tea ceremonies, and traveled to nearby regions to see tea farms and tea factories.
I was strongly impressed by the way tea affects so many aspects of life and nature. The elements (earth, air, water, and fire) all relate back to tea and are crucial to each stage of growth, oxidation, and steeping. It's no wonder that the resulting drink nourishes our bodies as well as our souls. I wanted to show how these elements of nature served as strong inspiration for these pictures.
People often ask me the same question about the Wuyi Mountains: Do they really look like that? I always reply: Yes, they do. In my mind, that was how I saw the mountains, with all those shapes in the landscapes. Relatively very little manipulation was needed for the finished images. The landscape itself was very suggestive. So these questions convince me that I succeeded in creating the effect I wanted.
The photographs were taken in April 2001. I created the series of images in August 2002 in preparation for an art exhibit at Tea-Tray in the Sky in Arlington, Massachusetts the following month
The Wuyi Mountains Series was published as a set of 12 prints in a box set. The photographs have been exhibited throughout the United States and have been seen in Tea, A Magazine. The photographs were shot with a Nikon Coolpix 800 digitial camera. After the photographs were downloaded to a Mac G4, 12 photographs were selected and taken into Adobe Photoshop to be manipulated: erasing portions of the photograph, cutting and pasting elements within the compostion, and air-brushing were all used to create the effects you see in this series. Once the images were completed, they were printed on an Epson 1270 Photo Printer.
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