Thursday, May 13, 2010

In The Night Light

6-17-04 13, 2004

I've always through that if I were a painter I’d work in a style of Joan Mitchell or J.M.W. Turner. Yes, two very different styles. But there you have it.

Turner’s paintings have always intrigued me because they’re often about a place or event, but not precise enough to be considered strict reportage. They’re more of an impression of the moment, which is why, not coincidentally, Turner is considered a forerunner to the Impressionists.

About five years ago I got on a jag experimenting with long exposure photographs outdoors at night. I started going out late at night and sitting on the pier behind our house. The pier’s about 120’ long with only the most distant edge actually in water all of the time. Most of the rest is atop tidal marsh.

I’ve written about this pier before. Depending the tide, it’s usually five or six feet above water and the marsh. That’s a wonderful elevation for just sitting and observing and listening to marsh life. As I noted last year, sometimes that marsh life can get downright noisy.

Every other night or so for a few weeks I’d take the camera and tripod, slather myself with mosquito repellent and go sit on the pier. Some nights I’d watch the sky. Others I’d keep the camera pointed at the water or the marsh grass. I experimented with all kinds of combinations of shutter speed and aperture just to see what I’d get.

I knew, of course, that properly done a long evening exposure can come out looking like daylight just from the light of the moon. But to be honest I didn’t have any specific objectives. I only knew that I wasn’t concerned about taking crystal clear pictures of the night sky. Other people do them better and they’re just not interesting to me.

The results were predictably all over the place. They were all extremely pixelated from the low light. Some were completely mindless, devoid of anything interesting. Those went straight to the trash heap.

I liked a few, though. The one shown above captured a kind of light and color and ambiguous abstractness that reminded me of the darker paintings of Turner. The one below was just fun.

6-14-04 5, 2004

1 comment:

  1. Both are cool--that top one is very atmospheric, and the bottom one makes me think of lying on the beach as a kid, and just figuring out the cloud shapes as the waves below also do their thing. Those are great!