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
Being a film photographer I move a bit slower and am more concerned with the nature of delayed rather than instant gratification. Also, this image happened to be the first exposure on the roll, meaning I had to make it through another 11 shots to finish this up and even see this exposure. The notion of first exposures is a worthwhile one to explore. A higher-than-normal percentage of my favourite images tend to be the first or last exposures on a roll because I tend to lend more weight to the making of those photos. For example, I typically don’t load an empty camera, or empty film back, until I have a picture to make. That means when a roll of film does get loaded it is because I have enough of a purpose in mind to motivate me to load film. And the film that gets loaded is being selected for the first image it will be used to make. Along those lines, when I get to the last frame I really try to make that last exposure count. There is no better way to wrap up a roll of film than with an image you are excited about. Another way of approaching this is to go out without any spare rolls of film. I did this on this outing with my two Hasselblad backs, one of which is dedicated to colour and the other to b&w. I opted to not take any extra rolls of colour film with me and that back was on exposure 10, meaning I had only three shots remaining for an entire excursion. It is limiting but scarcity can also place greater value. With only three shots, or by waiting on my first shot of the roll, or the last shot, I am placing a higher-than-normal value on those exposures and because I do so, I tend to enjoy a higher-than-normal success rate with those images.
On October 17th, 18th, and 19th, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of “Heroes”, and in collaboration with Arts Brookfield and WNYC’s New Sounds Live, Jonathan Meiburg, Emily Lee, Sadie Powers, Lucas Oswald, and Josh Halpern (Shearwater and Loma) were the nucleus of an all-star lineup performing Bowie’s entire “Berlin Trilogy” of albums (1979’s Lodger, 1978’s “Heroes”, and 1977’s Low) at the magnificent Winter Garden Atrium at Brookfield Place in lower Manhattan.
Shearwater Manchester Nov 2012
Jonathan and David
Boys keep swinging. Me in my Hometown 1978
Sound and Vision Home 2019
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