Down at Port Oakland when I saw the pelicans in this photo flying past gigantic hoists I thought it looked like the machines were turning into the birds, or at least releasing the birds from a mechanical nature to fly away and be free.
This, of course, is the meaning of metamorphosis—when something changes into something else. Metamorphosis is a common theme in art, famously in Kafka’s eponymous novel in which Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning as a monstrous verminous bug.
Metamorphosis is also frequently found in the visual arts. M.C. Escher, an artist I particularly admire, often played with metamorphic transformations, and explicitly named some of his images to indicate their concern with metamorphosis (for example, Metamorphosis I).
A number of my images that are more digital art than photography are definitely about metamorphosis; for example Spirals, the Shadow Within pair, and The Dictator’s Architect. The manifesto in my Photoshop Darkroom 2: Creative Digital Transformations explains my thinking with these images.
As opposed to the transformations that are digitally created or enhanced, what intrigues me about the birds in Port Oakland is that the metamorphosis seems completely organic to the image—something I saw and captured but did not actually create.