The Longshots and the Long Exposure

I’ve been more about movement, both in photography and poetry, particularly in the relationship between observers and the observed.  Having experimented a bunch indoors with long exposures in dark rooms, I’d wanted to get outside and shoot something different.  None of these photos are spectacular, they are a general thrust to get at a sensibility I’m not sure I can articulate yet.  Here’s a few of the indoor shots for a frame of reference:

And these in response to the stellar stuff Ted Forbes hipped me to with his Art of Photography videos here:

Art of Photography (Ted Forbes)

And specifically in conversation with this artist (who, is amazing, obviously way more experienced/skilled than myself) whose work I find fascinating:

Alexey Titarenko (City of Shadows)

Again, a giant caveat here, I am practicing photography here, normally I mostly write poetry.

What I gravitated to in Alexey’s work is the way he captures movement and blurs time, and the delicate balance of that blur (of shared territory captured and released by the people in the photograph) with well defined stationary objects (which claim identity and presence through the clarity that provides).

When I originally started shooting in the near dark, I had the luxury of really fine control of light over a good deal of time.  The three photos shot indoors posted above are an attempt to capture both rotational and lateral movements through a room.  The right most photo of that group is  more of an attempt at cubism, with harder shifts between 3 perspectives of the same portion of a light on a hallway frame.

In this very low light room I have the ability to keep the shutter open for several minutes, so, with care, I can fake a sense of a “clearer” subject by holding on one shooting posture longer, and because very low light is gentle in the way it saturates the image, little hand fluctuations don’t have as profound an effect on the finished exposure.

Besides that, it is really fun to dance around in the near dark with a camera shutter open, in my humble (read: probably crazy) opinion.

A sort of intermediary step I took between inside/dark and outside/night time long exposures were these sort of self portraits:


Which were also long exposure, but with the camera on a tripod and in the dark with purplish flashlights.  I was looking to reverse the expectations of what should be in focus by making the subject (me, I guess, being a self-portrait) brighter but less distinct, than the background objects, which required holding the shutter open between 2-5 minutes in almost total dark to capture.  It was odd for me to realize that light, as it approaches white (complete saturation of a media) can destroy an image, so I reversed my concept toward the end of this series of shots and started thinking of composition as painting with shadows.  This should have been obvious, but as I am a novice I did not consider how overexposure has “destroyed” a lot of my early shots with a film camera.

The shots that opened this little mini-essay were taken on a tripod (safely) in a moving car, and this sort of (however unsuccessfully-output-wise) bridged several of my understandings of long exposure.  While the camera was stationary in relation to the car (giving clear interior details of the dash/windows/mirrors) the car itself provided scene blur, and as an artifact of how cars move in concert with one another on a free-way remarkably less blur of cars in the side mirror.  While the shots themselves aren’t good (yet[!!!]) I feel like the concept is sound (I’m sure I stole it from somewhere).

I’d like to make a quick connection to poetry, if I may.

One of the most interesting conversations I had once with one of my poetry mentors, Chad Sweeney, was about sentence length, and how this effects the flow of the mind through the lines of a poem.  He got me thinking about the periodicity of punctuation, line, projective verse breath groupings and the like.  This is a huge subject with lots of great essays on different aspects already in-conversation.  I’ll post a few links/suggestions below.  For purposes of this mini-essay, it is probably sufficient to say that all of these aspects of composition I posted above in photo-crit, are equally applicable in the way we frame/space/punctuate poems.  I’m excited by all the potential growth that may come from the cross-pollination of these disciplines.

Poem after:

City of Shadows, Alexy Titarenko 1992-94

The Ogive, The Asymptote


The time/event layers of the strata are not necessarily at the same strata

as the layers of light themselves, each of these

its own landscape reflected in the media.  This is a dimension difficult to articulate,

possibly indeterminate: a multipli-city of proliferating self- references.  We collectively what?  What

a set of non intersecting infinities caught within the nearest curve

of each


other daring each other to touch us: what we record is darkness and obstruction to the passage of light, the shutter kept open long enough to saturate the medium without the presence of absolute


light, that destroys all trace of images.  Under the cotton swab loaded with bleach, the wet image surfaces: a crowd moves, a blur; an individual, still, is captured.  Every second both are displaced, identity, in the traditional sense, destroyed—no monuments.  The house of blood requires the pushing through the arteries and filling of mouths, that shatter the individual into the flock, the illusion of statue pushed over, to see the imperfect shards fly or fall


in the lies of sleep, when stillness becomes the explosion of wings and hammers.  The wood of our windowsill discolored, its loose glue-join softened in its chamfer by the flood of the swamp cooler as it annihilates the heat in the dead night—in this dead of night I am terrified to say: though I worry about my sister and my brother of the street—to which I ply my art; it is to the patron I must turn to find something to eat.


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