Yesterday, I opened up the following email:

“Aloha Scott, I have a question for you. Did you:

A) Win the lotto and disappear
B) Get lost in your studio

C) Go off on a humongous photo adventure

D) Fall off the face of the earth

I’m assuming something happened, since your blog has been covered in spider webs for months. What’s up?”

The Answer is E) none of the above. For the past few months, I’ve been engrossed in the one thing my grandfather told me NEVER to do: Reinvent the wheel.

One of the beauties of nature photography is that it gives us a chance to explore not only our environment, but our inner self as well. It gives us an opportunity to be not only creative, but inventive. It lets us explore the boundaries of what we are “told” photography should be, or better yet, forge into new and uncharted waters.

In essence, reinvent the wheel.

For the past seven months, I’ve been playing in the studio; perfecting Paintography ® to the point my wife has accused me of having an affair with my Wacom digital tablet. I like to think of this technique as the offspring of photography and oil painting – a hybrid where portions of the image remain untouched, while the rest receives days of digital painting.

I’ve spent days pouring over thousands of images in my collection, many of which I deemed long ago to be good images, but not earth shattering. But after spending a few days applying digital brush, an incredible transformation takes place, making a once overlooked image into an incredible hybrid, and what I’ve been told by other artists to be a new art form. I call it the result of insomnia mixed with Kona coffee!

But this reinvention has also been applied to my “Little Me,” or what I call my inner self. Some may call it a mid-life crisis, others saying the kid has finally grown up. And while my family calls it a revelation, friends say I’m frikkin’ nutz. The premise is simple: For once, “I” come before the image.

I’ve been known for “taking unreasonable risks” (read being stupid) when it comes to getting “the” shot – going to the extreme measures without safety equipment or hanging by a tree limb on a cliff edge for a shot, and my medical chart (now on volume III) tells the story: Broken this, sprained that, herniated discs and physical therapists that know when I walk through the door, they’ve got their work cut out for them. I even earned the nick name, Tumble Bear, from a group of buddies.

That’s not to say that I’m gonna wimp out on my shooting. It means that I’m (finally) taking my well being into account. I now carry a ladder, rope, straps, gloves and other paraphernalia that allows me to get great shots without the added expense of Band-Aids or ice packs.

Now when I come home after a day of shooting, I can relax on the couch, sipping a beer while my cards are downloading without having to explain to the Wife how I managed to dislocate a finger.

Who woulda thunk reinventing the wheel could be so great?