There is a part of me that definitely prefers doing long exposures in black and white. I could say it is partially due to the colour shifts I get from filtering through stacked NDs, but I have largely wrapped my mind around those. No, my reticence comes from my frame of mind when I stop to make these types of images. One of the big reasons I do these long exposures is because of my interest or fascination with time. Often, but not always, time is what I am making a photo of here. Time is usually my subject. So when it comes to composing these images I generally think in terms of working to get rid of elements that don’t belong. And if I am building an image about time, I want to get rid of things that don’t relate, because if they don’t support then they distract. Often colour is not in this equation. It is easy to be enamoured of colour and to include it simply because you like it, but if the photo is not about colour. If it is about other things, such as time, then colour becomes a layer atop your subject that to some degree or another obscures it. So while colour is always tempting to add, I have to be careful to actually make images that make use of that colour as part of the message, thought, subject, what have you. I have to make sure that I want to direct some part toward that colour. So usually I don’t want the colour to be overtly important in these types of photos… it is not what I am trying to impart. But there are occasions where I want to mix colour and time. This is one of those occasions.
Is it easy to keep so quiet?
Everybody loves a quiet child
Underwater you’re almost free
If you want to be alone, come with me
Is it easy to live inside yourself?
All the little kids are high and hazy
Nowhere to go
Everybody wants to be amazing
The world’s rotten
Dress light-cold to be forgotten
Eat your pearls on Sunday morning
Keep your conversations boring
Stay with me among the strangers
Change your mind and nothing changes
You should try to get some sun
There’s a little bit of hell in everyone
Over the years I have noticed a trend in my photography. To be fair, I notice many trends. It is sort of how I work: I make photos over a long span of time then see where the pictures settle and read them like tea leaves. It gives me a perspective on what I am doing that I don’t have while I am out doing it. But I digress. It is a lot about feeling, mood, perspective or whatever other abstract ideas you want to associate with what guides us through the creative process. I tend to be more in a black and white mood, for lack of better words. I love the simplicity of black and white. It pares the world down a bit to more essential elements. It makes things a bit simpler, a bit quieter… in a way. And that is a big part of what is driving me. I appreciate that simpler rendering.
I think part of it is also the timeless nature of b&w film/images. Colour is date able, by which I mean, you can generally tell when a colour image is made by its palette. The colour films of the 1970s look like the 1970s, just as the colour palettes of today’s images have a distinct look that is temporally anchored. Black and white eschews this dating to some degree. And I appreciate this too. That I am more easily able to make an image that is not anchored to a particular time, because sometimes the image I am making is not about a specific time at all, and if that is the case I don’t want that association to be baked into the photo. If that makes sense. But I do just like the concept of time as this slippery, amorphous, crazy notion of a thing and so if there is a way to set it aside just a bit, to make a photo that isn’t necessarily of a certain place at a certain time but perhaps somewhere sometime, then I enjoy doing that as well.
So there it is, just some of my thoughts hammered out in a bit of a stream-of-consciousness manner.
Callac Lake Jan.2019
One of my photographic interests has been to collect an exposed roll of every type of black and white film. For years I used almost exclusively just Tri-X. And I love Tri-X, but every roll of Tri-X I shot was a roll of some other film I didn’t and asking myself the question what would this look like with another film. I got a bit tired of not having good answers. What are the differences between Delta 400 and Tmax 400? How about Tmax 400 and APX 400? What does that Adox CMS 20 II look like? Or the Copex Rapid film? I think it is true that there is not enough time in the day to use every roll, which is why it has been a project that hopefully will never end. Unfortunately 35mm takes me half of forever. But I have been using my Nikon more and more. I can keep that trusted camera loaded with weird films and have been carrying it with me everywhere, trying to move faster than I normally do but not too fast that I produce a bunch of ho-hum images.
Wood Ducks Home Jan.2019
It is nice when I do finish one of these rolls though. I just got through a roll of the Washi S. It took about a month or so. I also underexposed it a bit because I thought it was ISO 80 when it is really ISO 50. Ooops. But that is ok because the results turned out interestingly enough. Deep shadows, high contrast, no grain. And that is one of the benefits to a project like this, it nudges me in directions I wouldn’t have gone without that nudge. Would I have tried a roll of this out otherwise? I highly doubt it. And hence I wouldn’t have made these images either. Anyway, just thoughts on this ongoing experiment. Now the Nikon is loaded with a roll of Lomography Berlin 400 film.
Susan New Years Eve Mont St. Michel 2018
Tree and Birds Jan 2019
One of those times when an image is so much more proficient than words at communicating my thoughts.
Shadows on rock
Head above water
The pull of the unknown
Huelgoat December 2018
Callac November 2018
The Silence holds with its gloved hand the wild hawks of the mind
Sue and JB – Malvran November 2018
Pink Granite Coast November 2018
Two Dachshunds One Bench Chartres 2018
Laughter And Forgetting
Sue Plusquellec December 2018
Photography to me is an emotional endeavour. I am a pretty rational, analytical and logical person, or at least I try to be.
I do love to think and analyse things, situations and people. It is not that I am unemotional; I just value analytical and rational thought in such times over emotional thought.
But that changes when I get out into the world with a camera. As I said above, photography is an emotional activity for me. I try to photograph based on feeling rather than reason, emotions as opposed to logic. Sure, some analysis is necessary, I still meter and do the requisite math to calculate the long exposures I am fond of, but I get that work done as quickly as I can and it is only a means to an end. I don’t aim to make photos that represent technical achievement or superb rational execution. I like to try to make photos that reflect how I felt in a certain moment and that usually involves photos that contain some sense of the wonder I see and feel about the world when I am out in it as a photographer.
Perhaps that is why I have taken so well to pinhole and the old world photography processes. These types of photography are less about analysis than they are about intuition; they are less about documentation than they are about a slightly ethereal memory of being somewhere. It is then easy to dream, and dreams tend to be driven by emotion.
Anyway, the idea for this reflection came about due to a thought I was having regarding the difference between looking at the situation rationally versus emotionally. I was leaning towards the rational perspective, unsurprisingly. Then I sit down at the computer and start editing and looking at images and realised that they showed a very different version of me looking at the world and I found that interesting.
I’ve burned my bridges
And I am free at last
All my chains
Are in the past
The day is wide open
The sky is blue
The world is a miracle
And so are you
The New Life starts here
Racists, bigots and stalkers
Banging at my door
I’m not fighting with them
Friends, Family and Pretenders
How do you do?
I can make it
With or without you
Citizens of the world
Child, woman and man
The keys to the kingdom
Are in your own hands
The New Life starts here.
It occurs to me that these days one must go farther and farther to escape the crowds. I witnessed how larger and larger numbers of people are travelling and places are getting more and more crowded. In part this is driven by the internet and social media. It is easier to publicise a place and we are drawn like moths to a flame to the places that sites such as Instagram subtly tell us are the “it” places that one must visit in their life. Look at Iceland, look at New Zealand, sure. But even on a smaller, more local scale I see beaches and trails becoming more packed. I don’t know what I think of this. On one hand I find it repellent and annoying to navigate crowds of people when my goal is to get somewhere away from people. On the other hand, I can hardly fault these people for wanting to get out into beautiful places. They are doing the same thing I am doing and I can no more fault them than I can, or should, myself. But at the same time the increasing numbers present issues. The more individuals through an area the more wear on that area, the more litter, the more people climbing through alpine meadows off-trail, or scaling sea stacks at the beach disturbing the natural bird life. We slowly erode that which we love.
On a photographic level the unwanted wanderer has long been a bane to the photographer wanting to get “the shot”. I remember struggling with this in my early days, waiting patiently and sometimes not so patiently, for that man in the red raincoat to get along his merry way and out of the frame I have been composing for the past ten minutes. But that was then. These days I rarely experience the issue and in large part that is because of the world of photography that long exposure and pinhole has opened up to me. When you are making 10 second, or eight minute exposures, crowds not present much less an issue but actually they create an opportunity. So many times the essence of a particular landscape image to me is based on the unpredictable blur of people moving within the frame. Now my struggles laughably tend toward the opposite end of the spectrum. I set up to make a long exposure of people within a landscape and I get a minute into a four minute exposure and they get up and leave the frame, barely registering as ghosts at that point. I want to run in and tell them to not get out of my way.
The photographic aspect of this issue is a fun one to wrestle with, the non-photographic aspects of growing crowds though has me a little concerned at times.