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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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October 2006 through June 2007

Bob Creamer sets up a scan of water lilies
Photo by David Wiley

During his 30 years as a professional photographer, Robert Creamer has transitioned many times, building upon his many interests and talents including photography, botany, natural history, and teaching. He is an accomplished architectural and fine art photographer, having published and exhibited widely. He also enjoys teaching photography.

In 2002, Creamer began using the scanner on a whim—after finding a dead hummingbird in his Baltimore, Maryland neighborhood. Later, he experimented with scans of plants from his yard and treasures the cat or his kids gifted him. Those early scans triggered his imagination and through the scanner he began to bring a dignity and beauty to the changes he witnessed.

Artist Statement

My maturing imagination returns me again and again to botanicals. I enjoy exploring the transitory nature of beauty and am constantly enthused by the serendipitous understandings and new relationships that this technique reveals to me.

I select objects based on my intuition of what they might become in the days and weeks ahead and also my sense of what they are going to look like scanned. After I handpick the flowers, I monitor them closely, looking for the decisive moment and point of view that reveals something new.

As a large-format landscape photographer I edit out details to fit the subject inside a small frame. But with the scanner, I compose by adding plants, piece by piece, sometimes spending six hours on one composition.

The high level of detail in the prints is the result of the scanner’s ability to create extremely large digital files of about 500 megabytes. My technique starts with an Epson 1000XL scanner (with the top removed). The subjects are clamped over the scanner surface and tented to achieve the dark black background. After minimal adjustments in Adobe Photoshop, most images are printed using archival inks with an Epson 7600; the larger prints with an Epson 9600.

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