John Brady, Photographer
Bonita Springs – In a digital age, why would a photographer opt for film? John Brady, landscape photographer, believes in using the right tool for the right job and his choice is an eight by ten inch wooden view camera with some lenses that are 24 to 30 years old.
All of Florida is ripe for his camera’s eye from the Florida panhandle to the keys and everything in between. “I’m drawn to the wilder parts of Florida, the places that have been untouched, ” says Brady. He loves trees and water and whenever he can find the combination, he’s ready to do some work. His large format photographs fill the gallery at the Wonder Gardens on Old US 41 where he displays his work.
After a long business career and a move to Florida in 2001, Brady returned to his boyhood interest in photography. Inspired years ago by the tonality of the black and white landscapes and wildlife of Ansel Adams, Brady found a renewed interest when he discovered Clyde Butcher’s large format photographs. “It was refreshing to see,” said Brady. Beyond the manicured golf courses, beaches and condominiums, he discovered the ancient forests and waterways of Florida.
Butcher became his mentor. He showed him how to get out in the wild. In boots or sneakers and shorts, sometimes a long sleeve shirt if the bugs are bad, he may walk hours. “Had close calls with water moccasins, rattlesnakes, plenty of gators. Water moccasins are the ones that bother me the most... They’re very aggressive.”
His favorite places include the Dead Lakes, in the panhandle between the Appalachicola and the Chipola River, an ancient cypress forest. A natural flood occurred several hundred years ago, drowned the slough. The old cypress trees were submerged for so long that it killed them. It was so long that the knees are 15 feet tall. “It’s the most incredible place I’ve ever seen. I call it my cypress museum.” The 10,000 Islands run from Marco Island to the Keys. “When you go there you escape from everything. It’s another one of my favorite places to go.”
His third favorite place is Fisheating Creek. His photograph, The Game Warden’s Cabin, is on Fisheating Creek. Traveling twelve miles by boat to find the cabin flooded, he loved all the water. “I plant the tripod in the water and I get in there with it. Full contact photography. I become one with the scene.”
He’ll shoot with a small aperture, f64. A digital camera won’t even go to 64. By having such a small aperture he’s able to get everything from near to far into focus. “That’s how I control my depth of field. A longer exposure, maybe seven seconds, gives it a creamier look.”
Heuses8x10inchfilm, spring-loaded shutters, and a hand held light meter. If he drops it in the water, he says, it’s no big deal. There are no electronics. “For me, film is superior. There is so much clarity on the film.” Since his film costs about $15 a sheet, he hopes to get it right the first time.
Brady processes the film himself and once the film is processed he scans it and prints digitally. “So I take analog and digital and marry the two and that’s how digital enters my world. “
He looks for simplicity in the scene. “Shape, form and composition is what excites me.”
Grand Opening Everglades Gallery
Everglades Wonder Gardens
27180 Old 41 Road,
Sunday, Nov. 17,
5:30 pm to 7:30 pm
RSVP by email:
or call 273-5813