Works selected for NIGHT at Provence

The above pieces have been select­ed for the NIGHT show, going up at Provence in Hills­boro in mid-April. Please stop by and let me know what you think!

Photo Exploration: Nurse Log in Percy Warner Park, May 2015

It had been a long time since I’d clam­bered into the woods, dirt under hands and scrap­ing knees, to make that metic­u­lous­ly framed pho­to. The more found-and-street pho­tog­ra­phy I do, the less of the com­pose-recom­pose-recom­pose-again process I had done. Last week­end was just such an oppor­tu­ni­ty. Walk­ing in Per­cy Warn­er Park there was up on a hill a large tree that had fall­en across anoth­er tree and, over time, twist­ed away and set­tled on the ground. In the future it will prob­a­bly be a nurse log for oth­er growth. Unfor­tu­nate­ly it was a good was up that hill and too far for any lens to get it from the road. It was a very cloudy day mak­ing hand­held shots tricky at best, and this being under cov­er of trees I had no choice except to scram­ble up car­ry­ing my tri­pod to set­up for the shot.

Nurse Log, Percy Warner Park. May 2015

Shoot­ing with the Leica M3 at 35mm can be tricky. On the tech­ni­cal detail side, this was made with the Leica M3 with a 35mm f/2.8 lens. Expired T‑Max 400 shot at 200, f/11 at 1/2 sec­ond. With that 35mm lens there is an attach­ment to the viewfind­er to ensure prop­er fram­ing, but when the cam­era is low to the ground in an already uncom­fort­able sit­u­a­tion, it’s tough to ensure that the set­up is just the way you want it. With a lit­tle time and patience, that part came together.

Next was meter­ing and set­ting the shut­ter. Get­ting the expo­sure down is thank­ful­ly a breeze with my hand­held meter. Since it was a long expo­sure, a self-timer was going to be used. With the Leica there is a strange lit­tle half-winder on the front that you set, trip to start, and then when the winder fin­ish­es it fires the shut­ter. It takes a few tries to trust it — espe­cial­ly as the winder can run whether or not the expo­sure has already been tripped by the shut­ter button.

But when all was done, the pho­to was made and can now be shared.

Blue Hole Falls, Fiery Gizzard Trail. December 2014

Blue Hole Falls, Fiery Gizzard Trail. December 2014

From a late-Decem­ber hike along the Fiery Giz­zard trail, tak­en with Neopan Acros 100 (shot at 200). Devel­oped in Ilfos­ol 3 1+14.

A some­what stren­u­ous trail, but well worth the effort. I did­n’t bring along a tri­pod so this was bal­anced on a con­ve­nient rock. Plen­ty of those around for using as makeshift sup­ports! The water was so clear, and so cold, it was amaz­ing. Some­times I still expect all water to be the same as that in south Mis­sis­sip­pi — silty, yel­low and so thick you lose your hand three inch­es under. This was the total oppo­site and just beautiful.

There are more pho­tos to come off this last roll of the year, but I had to go on and post this one (which may be my favorite from the walk).

High Falls, Covered Bridge

High Falls and Cov­ered Bridge, Dupont State For­est NC

Photo Exploration: Pier at Night, December 2012

This time of year I’m grate­ful for any chance to do a lit­tle night shoot­ing. Recent­ly on a trip to the Mis­sis­sip­pi Gulf Coast, where it was balmy mid-50’s at night, I took a series of night time pho­tographs. Below is a selec­tion from that ses­sion. Three or so min­utes at f/9, ISO 100. 5dmk2 and 24–70mm f/2.8L lens. Around 8:30pm mid-December.

Pier at Night, December 2012

I don’t know if this par­tic­u­lar pier was dam­aged by Kat­ri­na, although I imag­ine it was. And if it had been around then, it would have been com­plete­ly under­wa­ter for a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time. Enough time that I’m sur­prised at the qual­i­ty of the pieces that remain. And what remains pulled me towards pho­tograph­ing the scene,  not dur­ing the day but rather at night.

Night pho­tog­ra­phy is a well explored top­ic (I’ve even cov­ered it before) but the results usu­al­ly seem to involve (a) urban scenes or (b) starfields. With this ses­sion I was iso­lat­ed on a beach, only a few hun­dred yards from a gas sta­tion and bare­ly a half mile from my hotel, but it might have been total soli­tude. The beach was cer­tain­ly emp­ty. Even though it felt warm for Decem­ber to me, to the rest of the Gulf Coast it was a brisk night. Plen­ty of time to set­up and con­sid­er the shots.

When shoot­ing at night in this kind of dark, with bare­ly a moon and cloud cov­er, there isn’t a great way to know how long to make an expo­sure. The longer the bet­ter, of course, but once you start climb­ing above three min­utes there will be noise gen­er­at­ed in the dark­er areas. And at that point, for me, I had just bare­ly start­ed get­ting results. So there is a real­iza­tion and accep­tance that some pho­tos just aren’t going to be great out of the box and will have short­com­ings no mat­ter what the pro­cess­ing. But once that accep­tance occurred, I was able to start visu­al­iz­ing beyond the “full his­togram.” The above image isn’t real­ly all that great with “dark­est darks” and “light­est lights” but the midrange is, I feel, quite well rep­re­sent­ed. And it won’t ever be the sharpest, even though it was shot at f/9 and well focused.

Instead of con­cen­trat­ing on the tra­di­tion­al mark­ings of a well-exe­cut­ed pho­to, with piece and the oth­ers from this night time series, I’m savour­ing the flu­id­i­ty and soft edges of the work. Where the water ends and the wood ends, where the sky is bare­ly delin­eat­ed on the hori­zon. Let­ting this imagery wash over me as an exam­ple of a pho­to that can­not be tak­en every day but only by the merg­ing of inten­tion­al prepa­ra­tion  and loosed control.

Click to view the oth­ers in this series.