I have entirely different biographical information on my EcoReality home page.
See a banner with a brief overview of my process. I hang this banner at seminars and exhibitions.
Featured in the Oregonian Meet Your Neighbor column!
I'm Jan Steinman, doing business as Bytesmiths. I've been involved with photography for about 40 years. My father George shot weddings and baby pictures as a second income, and I was "helping" him in the darkroom as soon as I was tall enough to get my hands in the chemicals.
My involvement deepened as I grew older. I served as photographer and editor of my high school and community college publications, attending Monroe County Community College (Michigan) on a full journalism scholarship.
I also had an interest in electronics, fiddling around with radios as a child and getting a ham radio license as a teen-ager. After high school, I applied for two summer jobs: one as a photographer's assistant at the local newspaper, the other as an electronics technician trainee at a local communications shop.
To make a long story short, one job came through, and the other didn't, and I began a career diversion that took me to far corners of the earth, working on communications systems and later, doing software engineering consulting.
Through the years of building a successful engineering career, I maintained my love of art as an avocation, staying involved with graphics as editor for numerous newsletters, and staying involved with photography through volunteer activities, such as my involvement as photographer for the 1980 Winter Olympics Nordic Ski Patrol, in Lake Placid, New York. But engineering remained my "bread and butter."
But several years ago, I got disgusted with it all. Although it might seem the pace of software development is accellerating, it is actually stagnating, with bigger, buggier programs piling unwanted feature upon unwanted feature. Software development has become essentially, "doing whatever Microsoft tells you to do," which is not fun any more. The elegance and beauty is largely gone from writing software. The "best" is no longer measured by technical merit, but rather by marketing muscle.
So in 1997, I chucked it all to return to my roots. I set out to produce uncompromising quality, strictly under my control. I'm acutely aware of the challenges faced by someone attempting to do "art" through photography -- everyone owns a camera, and everyone fancies themselves a photographer!
Not content with taking "pretty pictures," I like to push the limits, by using digital techniques to better that available through traditional photochemistry. I like to make huge, panoramic images -- although finding patrons for such expensive works is not easy! But I also want my art to be accessible, so I make affordable sizes, also. I get a kick out of working with unusual materials, and my translucent prints, designed for window display, are quite popular.
I've always been attracted by unusual perspective, and I enjoy exploring the microcosm of texture in extreme macro photography, as well as the vastly expanded distances of extreme wide angle, and the distance compression of extreme telephoto.
A varied background makes for a rich, but sometimes frustrating, life. Back in my corporate days, I was constantly pushed into a box. No matter how hard big companies say they encourage "thinking outside the box," they are generally terrified of such thinkers. Today, I try to apply a variety of skills to my work. I write stories to go with each picture. I build some of my frames from scratch -- even from trees I have selected and cut down myself. I do my own marketing materials. I even wrote my own accounting system!
But most of all, I personally do all the critical aspects of my work, from taking the picture, to drum-scanning it, to digitally manipulating the result, to printing it on my giclee printer, to matting and framing -- that's the only way I can assure the consistent quality I demand.
Finally, I believe in "pay back," and so I teach photography and digital art for community education programs, so that others may share my delight in making and sharing compelling images.
I hope you enjoy browsing my web site. It's constantly changing -- please visit often!
If I haven't bored you yet, I've been on the Internet since it was called the Arpanet, and have written over 6,000 things that are out there in cyberspace, including a lot of stuff on energy resource depletion.