About Steve Parish
Digital Fine Art

Both as a natural history photographer and as an expressive digital artist, an emotional connection with Australia’s ecosystems is what has driven me for six decades. People, places, natural habitats, and their associated flora and fauna are my palette. As an artist, I am particularly drawn to the artistic elements, the textures, shapes, forms, colours, and lines present in one form or another within all drive me. In addition to design elements, the light available within any given moment is also a significant contributor. It is then a matter of accepting the reality in front of me and expressing as best I can at that moment.

Photography is all about moments. Moments in time, many very brief like the passing of a bird, or a sudden cloud movement that changes the light, or a quick shift in my state-of-mind while sitting behind my computer.  As I grow creatively, as I learn more about the content, as I search for imaginative ways to express feelings – I find my interpretative skills expand. I sometimes joke that if I put as much time and effort into my physical activities as I do my creative imaginings, I would win the New York Marathon!

As an artist, I am often not entirely satisfied with what the camera and lenses see. For decades I have craved more playful interaction with my images. If so inclined I may digitally exaggerate (or not) artistic elements to bring an image more or less in line with my pre-visualised outcome. It is really as simple as that.


As both naturalist and artist, emotional connection with nature is what drives me. Moments in time, like this spoonbill’s preening contortions, are what I strive to capture as writer and photographer. In this instance, the initial capture was driven more by the naturalist within however this creative expression is all about play. A state of play is where I reside when the ‘artist within’ takes over and this is what this montage is about. Royal Spoonbill preening. River Murray National Park, South Australia

I am entirely self-taught. I started playing with clay sculpture, oil paint, crayons and charcoal as a boy. Raised in a strict home environment, it was about all I had to play with until the camera became part of my life. I was sixteen. In those days from 1961 till 1978, my focus was entirely on what I saw in front of me. In 1978 I was introduced by a close friend renown abstract artist and teacher Irene Amos to the art philosophy of Desidarious Orban. Orban opened my eyes, heart and mind to the concept of ‘artful play’; a world of free expression without thought for the opinion of others nor commercial outcomes. While Orban’s teachingsat the time spun my head, the tools for a photographer were not yet available. Of course, that changed somewhat in the early nineties with the introduction of Photoshop. However, it was digital photography and the subsequent flow-on effect of numerous software applications that enabled me to start to interpret not just what I saw, but also what I felt and indeed was drawn to say.

‘Fiscus’ – tropical north Queensland
Colourful fungus on Ficus watkinsiana, commonly known as strangler fig, root system inspired this playful abstract.  Atherton tableland, north Queensland.

If I were to define my overarching approach from, capturing the image in the field to the resolution of a piece of art created in the digital darkroom, it would go something like below.


I draw inspiration from the palettes of various ecosystems, arid lands, rivers, lakes, floodplains, mountains, coasts, reefs, open oceans, forests, woodlands, and all their moving and stationary components. During the field capture process to create a specific piece of art, I am sometimes inspired to apply specific camera techniques to enhance lightness and darkness, softness and sharpness, or to playfully interpret surrounding elements. On other occasions, an image speaks to me at the post-production phase.


The style of the artwork may be based loosely on accepted stylistic contexts. For example, I am drawn to impressionism, abstractionism, romanticism, and montage. Of course, to me, the categorisation of styles means little or nothing in the end. I see artistic categories as akin to biological taxonomy, which is primarily there to enable research and acquire additional information. I am not decrying the wonders of art history. I am very passionate about how the world artistically expresses itself, regardless of the medium.


There are considered techniques for achieving a style. Styles are created through the artful use of software as layers and are applied digitally with brushes, masks, rubbers, cloning tools, etc. Most images then have textural overlays that may be shimmery, painterly, drippy, runny, etc. See a brief demonstration of the software process I currently apply.  I expand on this process in detail in my Masterclass: Photography: A Pathway to Purpose.


All images have backstories, some have stories yet to be told, and yet others are part of a bigger story. See below for an example of a backstory.


As a photographer, I revel in the challenge that exists when I approach a new subject. The moment I decide to raise my camera I begin self-talk, a ‘heart to heart’ conversation with myself. “What do I want to say in the construction of this image, what viewpoint will help me convey whatever it is that I am feeling”. In this case, a low perspective and subtle, subdued use of colour has contributed to conveying how I felt about this moment down in the dirt on a skywards journey towards the light. Paper flowers, Western Australia.

My students always ask, ‘How do you know when a work is done?”  My answer is simple. My personal sense of aesthetics is what drives me.  A ‘sense’ of a conclusion is based entirely on what pleases me at any given moment in time. This is what I rely on to make final decisions.  Of course, all artists know the process is never finished.  All ideas linger and will, in time, represent themselves.

Add soul and emotion to your images through editing. Bring back how it felt to be there.
Editing photos should be creative and energising – not computer science.
From choosing hardware and software to creating an artistic vision,
this step will inspire you to dig deep and explore the creative child within

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