Review of Oregon Mural of Larry Felder
By Christopher Kennett, Ph.D.
Photographer, Videographer, Biologist
had the great pleasure of being allowed to both visit the studio of Larry
Felder and to photograph his luxuriant yet unfinished mural. My first
impression was breathtaking; beyond this untidy studio was a photorealistic
jungle just being illuminated by morning light; my most preferred light
for photos and video. The golden sunlight etched the distant mountains
and foliage with just a few rays hitting translucent banana leaves, reflecting
from waxy leaves of myriads of hanging, strangling vines, penetrating
the dark underbrush. In the distance, a thunderhead was releasing torrential
rain onto the rainforest, blocking out the newly-born light. The rain
fell, thick, heavy and cold, the kind of rain that sends shivers up every
I stood there transfixed, eyes passing over and taking in the beautiful details of every species of tree, brush and vine that you could imagine. Some plants were recognizable; conifer, dogwood, tulip trees and banana plants. Most were not. The biologist in me instantly wishing for a field guide that didn’t exist. My eyes passed down to the dark, just barely illuminated ground to see cold volcanic bomb debris. Looking up, I saw past the thunderhead to a quiescent volcanic cone that had, not long ago, produced another rain, this one of fiery destruction.
Looking right, there was a very large, unknown pig-like mammal, bristling, nostrils flaring, testing the open space where its weak eyes couldn’t penetrate. You could see its tension, its hesitation, testing the air for a clue to tell it to flee or, lacking one, to proceed.
Realization hit; if this wonderful mural was a real scene and I was standing there with my camera, there is no way I could capture this scene better than Mr. Felder’s brush and paints. My camera was outclassed; it couldn’t capture the detail, there is no way the film could take in the dynamic range of light and I would have missed the golden instant that the light was precisely right. If future photographers were going to take this mural’s picture, then it would be a photo safari in its own rite. Bring tripod and telephoto lens with your camera, because the detail is so fine that you will miss most of what you shoot.
I consider my photographs
not even a pale negative of Mr. Felder’s work. Try to spot the
actual miniscule tree(s) that the rollover shows in detail. Who else
can produce this kind of work? Thank you Mr. Felder, you have a new