Photographic artist Darvin Ebanks brings old school technique to new technology.
And whilst doing that, he’s bringing the awesome underwater world to life for people who do not have his diving experience and artistic eye.
At the moment, he is exhibiting at George Town Public Library with a selection of new and classic prints and canvas pieces under the theme Underwater Christmas Tree Worms and Reef Colours.
“I have been doing a lot of framed prints but these days a lot of people are asking for canvas. You know, it’s good business and I give people what they want.
“There are some of my old land photos too – I have built up a good relationship with my customers over the years,” muses Darvin.
Indeed, those vintage shots of sites around Cayman are of great interest to anyone who lives or has visited the contemporary islands. But it’s arguably the underwater shots that sing with bright tone. Here, a shark swimming almost off the canvas as it stalks the azure; there, a tiny coral dweller blown up from an inch high to several feet; another shot shows a rainbow parrotfish having a cross-species greeting with another fish, very rare in nature and snapped for posterity by the experienced cameraman.
“I was always a person, like any professional photographer, that let my imagination run wild.
“Since the early days I have put a lot of creativity into it – this is way before Photoshop. I want people to say ‘wow, that’s awesome.’ And because I only switched to digital in 2007 I have a big archive of creative stuff in my library,” Darvin continues.
That switch was only engendered by the fact that it became so difficult to get slides printed that he had to go to New York for the privilege.
“I was already thinking about going digital but after the processing of slides became basically impossible I thought it was time.
“These days cameras change like computers do, with iPhones and so on, you can’t keep up,” he says.
The expense of film, however, meant that Darvin built up a good grounding in technique, knowledge of lighting and being able to capture moments without wastage. Applying this to modern technology therefore arguably gives him an advantage.
“I use some old methods; you learn very quickly when you are shooting for slides and prints that you only have a short opportunity to get what you want. A roll of 36 pictures could only mean one good shot.
“Now with digital you can shoot hundreds but I still choose only the best one or two. It gives such flexibility it’s unreal.”
As for 2012, it’s been good for the photographer, he says.
“Everyone has been affected by the recession and the economy. But as a small business the fact I owned my own building was a big plus. The year was very good for me.”
The exhibition is at George Town Library at 68 Edwards Street. It is free and runs through until Saturday, 22 December during library hours – Monday to Friday: 10am to 6pm; Saturday: 10am to 2pm.