Old Lyme photographer sees the world in motion

'Petunia'; photograph by Peter Daitch
"Petunia"; photograph by Peter Daitch

Whether he's on a snowboard or a skateboard or behind the lens of a camera, it's the theme of motion that moves Peter Daitch of Old Lyme.

The avid sportsman and photographer's new abstract photography is on view at The Cooley Gallery, along with his more traditional prints.

In his new pieces, Daitch has pulled the motion out of rather stationary subjects - flowers.

Daitch attributes his wife Alexandra's garden with planting the seeds of his new work.

"My wife's an avid gardener," he says. "We have flowers everywhere, so come spring everything was in bloom, all the colors. I have a lot of traditional photos of flowers. I'm not sure exactly what inspired me, I was kind of messing around, they were blowing in the wind and I was trying to get some movement and one thing led to another…"

Daitch says he doesn't use Photoshop to create this intense motion of light and color - it's all with the camera. He says the effect really varies with what lens he's using.

"Sometimes I zoom in or use a wide angle. I use a neutral density filter that darkens everything so I can use longer exposures and then I try different camera movements up and down, and over time I've figured out what works and doesn't work," he says.

He's done this method focusing in on the gas tank of a motorcycle, a section of a bright red fire truck, the hole of a sailboat.

"Flowers are one of my favorite subjects," he says. "They're organic and work really well. I like anything that's bright colors. It might take me 100 shots to get one I like.

"In my older work I liked geometry and symmetry and shapes and colors and this doesn't have symmetry but it has shapes and colors and is very vibrant," he says, noting that he has framed a number of the new pieces under Plexiglas, which makes the colors pop.

One of the things Daitch likes about this abstract work is the element of surprise.

"Sometimes I see something and I think I know what I want it to look like, and sometimes, it's just what I wanted to do, and other times, it's like, "Oh, look at that!"

Daitch earned his BFA in photography in 1985 from the University of Bridgeport and says he has always been interested in photography.

"I got a little side tracked - a lot side tracked - for a long time," he says. "I've really been getting back into it seriously for the last five or six years."

When he isn't shooting action sports or his wife's flowers, Daitch says his favorite place to shoot is within two miles from his house on Ely's Ferry Road.

"There's so much scenery going on there. So many different environments between the marshes and the cove and the river. You can see I'm attracted to the water."

Like motion, Daitch is intrigued by fog.

"It creates more interest and more feeling than straight, clear, sharp photography," he says.

Gallery owner Jeff Cooley says of Daitch's photography, "They're really happy pictures and they're fun pictures and that sort of defines Peter. He's a happy, fun loving guy. And he's somewhat of a revelation to me because I had no idea he was the artist that he is. He really is a talented photographer in several ways - whether it's the realistic ones or these abstract ones."

"In a sense, you can make them what you will," Cooley says of the abstract photos. "It doesn't really matter what it is; what matters is it has that wonderful sense of flow and great richness of color. There's both a simplicity to them and yet there's this great complexity and the sheer craft (involved). They're not crazy abstract. It's not conceptual art. Just beautiful colors, beautiful structure, beautiful lines."

Cooley says he felt it was important to include some of Daitch's more traditional photographs in the show.

"The beauty of it is they're gorgeous photos of what are somewhat familiar scenes, what people expect of photography. To me, it was important to share that aspect of Peter's work, to remember that photography can take so many different forms. We're confronted with these extraordinary natural scenes (around here), whether the painters of the 19th century painted them or photographers of today take pictures of them."

'Firetruck'; photograph by Peter Daitch
"Firetruck"; photograph by Peter Daitch


What: “The World in Motion - Photographs by Peter Daitch” on exhibit

When: An opening reception will be held
July 19 from 5 to 8 p.m. The show runs through Aug. 23.

Where: Cooley Gallery, 25 Lyme St., Old Lyme

Info: (860) 434-8807 or www.cooleygallery.com


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