Mark Brown is no stranger to the Weekly's photo contest. Last year he placed first in the Peninsula Nature category. This year, "April" brought him second place in Manipulated Images.
Photography has been a lifelong interest for Brown. His father dabbled in photography quite a bit, and Brown recalls taking his first picture when he was a second grader in New York City. He snapped a shot of an ostrich at the Bronx Zoo.
Brown, however, didn't own a camera until he was an undergraduate at Stanford, where he earned a degree in art. That camera recently fell off a cliff while Brown was on vacation in Hawaii.
While at Stanford, Brown began to combine the fine arts with photography. Now, with a master's degree from San Francisco State and a career as a graphic designer at McArthur Designs and Communications in Palo Alto, he is continuing to integrate the fine arts into photography.
The inspiration for "April" came with one simple purchase. "I bought a scanner and started putting things on it," Brown said. "I gradually took away all the manmade stuff and just used stuff from nature."
These images became less surreal than those he produced using manmade objects, such as the salt shakers he included in one series. Brown especially likes the effect of the black space on the outer portions of the images he has created. "The negative space (gives) an other-worldy glow to the colors," he said.
Describing his "Night Bloom" series, which includes "April," Brown said, "These images are a cross-pollination between a Macintosh computer imaging system and the flora of a garden I created and have long and lovingly tended. These works are filled with time, seasons, saturated colors and deep black space."
Brown, who has lived in the area since 1962, has been exhibiting his work for more than 20 years, at shows that have included displays at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, the University of Kentucky and the Palo Alto Cultural Center. His work has also been shown overseas in Australia and Germany.