Born in the Netherlands and raised in Switzerland, Ding Kalis came to California in 1973 to attend the Art Center College of Design. After graduating in 1977, he started a photography practice specializing in architecture and landscape architecture.
Later, he left photography behind and built a business specializing in construction tools which he recently sold. He has now returned to the camera and begun conquering the challenging shift from film and darkroom to digital images and computer processing.
The current show of Ding’s work is a selection of photos made on a trip through the coastal deserts of Namibia, the southwestern African nation bordered on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. About twice the size of California, Namibia has half as many people as Los Angeles and, as this exhibition illustrates, many square miles of sand.
Some of the images seen here were taken from a small aircraft flying between 6,000 and 10,000 feet above desert and ocean. Others were shot on the ground as Ding and an associate crossed Namibia’s desert areas by truck on a self-guided exploration of the country. The resulting photographs dramatically demonstrate Ding’s ability to see and capture the extraordinary combination of scenery and brilliant light.
All of the images in the exhibition are single frame photographs, none are composites. Ding’s approach to digital photography is, essentially, to limit manipulation of the print to changes that would have been possible with film in the darkroom— cropping, elimination of dust spots, a minor shift in the intensity of a highlight or a brightening of a shadow. The desert light provides the magic.