Monday, July 24, 2017

Time-Flow Photography

 My Birthday Blog: 
 This is the 5th year I have posted a blog on my birthday 

Experimenting With Slow Shutter Speed Digital Photography

"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."
~ Albert Einstein ~

In 2000 I crossed an invisible threshold
one that other photographers could have crossed
but which few had

Deliberately, I bought a digital camera
that would expose for seconds
and not fractions

I had guessed that there was a world
unseen and that the new technology
with its instant feedback
would give me the tool I needed

Later I would understand
that my life had been leading to this point:

A notebook about Einstein and space-time
written at age thirteen

and my decade long detour into computers
plus my study of Muybridge's figures in motion

meant that I was up-to-speed
with the new photographic medium
still in its infancy

Not understanding the dimensions
of this world at first
it took a while to get my bearings

I did it step by step:

First mounting a tripod
next to the dash
so that my camera peered
through the windshield
into the dark vanishing point
of the highway

For 8 seconds
points of light stretched across time
until the shutter closed –

now strung with bright yellow dashes
from blinking warning lights,

now streaked blood red from top to bottom
with brake and stop lights

as I slowed into stalled traffic

Prowling the highways
I cruised the dark back streets and brightly lit bridges

and coasted through the city's main drag,
all the while keeping my eye peeled
for flashing lights
neon, areas of glass and
shiny metal that added reflections

I did this
on clear nights or
when a low cloud cover lit the sky

I did this in hard rain, drizzle and mist –
the wetness acting like a mirror and a lens

After months
I pulled the camera off the tripod
and shot handheld –
the wavy lines more interesting
than the straightness
imposed by the tripod

Soon I parked the car
and panned in rhythm
to cars creeping through the downtown

or people walking on the waterfront

Then against the blackness
I took 8 second shots of my wife
from the passenger side
as she drove her car
lights streaming behind her

And later musicians on stages
their movement painted
against the blank canvas
of the night

Somewhere along the way
I began to 'get it'

What I was doing was expressive
– as I had hoped –
but more than that
these shots were glimpses
of movement through time

Where the passing moment
was now smeared across the frame

NOTE: This poem is from a book of auto-biographical poems 
I wrote about my creative evolution and the creative process in 2010.
You can view and/or download a free PDF copy of  my book by clicking on this link: