2: Seahorse, Peter Masters 2011

This little creature was once called sea dragons but we know them as seahorses. They are beautiful little things. I’ve never been lucky enough to find one in the wild, even though I’ve snorkelled a bit around old piers and in swimming pools in Botany Bay and other places, looking for them. But no luck. It’s even quite difficult to find the skeletons like this one.

This one I found at a market in Queensland and there were three or four and I bought the three or four. They have terrific little personalities. They’re very prehistoric as well - scaly, they have this beautiful skeleton structure, and to me they almost look alive.

This one against its black background has been helped along a bit by one little digital trick. Just in the eye I’ve just posted a tiny little beam of light. If you look carefully you’ll see the black eye shows a reflection of light. And the reason I did that was to make it come alive in the eye of the viewer. Most people don’t pick it but people enjoy looking at this image. And they stare at it for a while and they say that there’s something about it. And of course that ‘something about it’ is that it’s actually looking back at you. So that one little white dot in the eye brings it beautifully to life.

I love this image. I’ve printed it several meters high in a staircase and it really does look imposing. The black background owes a bit to the work of a photographer Gary Heery, who was one of the first people to do these animal portraits with the black background. He had a book, a break through book about 20 years ago called simply Zoo, and in that book he visited Taronga Park Zoo and the Western Plains Zoo and he would put enormous black drapes into the cages or over the back of the rocks, many metres high and many metres wide and he would shoot elephants for instance against a black backdrop as though they were portraits inside a studio. And to that look I owe some of these animal portraits. I have three or four of them in this exhibition - I hope you like them.

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Newcastle Libraries · Seahorse