As I study the effects of wide moment photography I have had to come up with a series of terms to describe emergent ideas about process and reality. No-one needs to know these terms to enjoy the images, but they may add some depth.
Blur is an series of effects of capturing a moment in time in a way that seems fuzzy. Motion blur occurs with a longer ‘now’ than we usually perceive, relative to the speed of a subject. Focus blur is a result of adjusting the lens so that the focal point does not align with the focal plane of the film or sensor in the camera. Blur can be the layering of past and present in a short sequence.
This theatre term refers to the fact that one wall of a stage is open to the audience, but everyone pretends it’s solid. When a character addresses the audience, they are breaking the fourth wall. In photos, it means the sense that a character is looking at you; has discovered you looking at them, even though you are in the future from them and they are in your past.
Blur can simplify people and their features, so they seem more like characters in a cartoon that real people. But they attain a kind of universal expression through body language and simplificaiton.
If the camera pivots in a single arc, tracking the subject, the background can blend into straight bands of colour, usually horizontal. If the camera also moves vertically or changes distance from the subject, the blended elements take on other forms, such as waves or jagged parallel lines.
I rarely know the people I photograph, so their resulting portraits pose the mystery of who they are, and our minds project a sense of the character we are seeing to fill the vaccuum.
In a relatively long exposure, elements in motion fade or disappear. Elements at rest remain sharp and darker in tone. In this sense, their presence in the image is determined by their density through time.
distilling diversity –
I describe my photographs in different ways depending on how I wish to view them. One thing they reveal is how fleeting we are in space and time. So the ghostly tracings in the photographs are ephemera.
As people move, their head and truck glide more or less in a straight line, while their feet move in a kind of infinity pattern. Due to the length of the exposure, they blend through time and either disappear or look like a cloud of activity. Sometimes they form clear elipses, running shoes and all.
Whether taking sharp or wide moment images, one often looks for a culminating moment of highest action. This is often a posture that expresses a gesture. Much as gestrure drawings are about the energy of a living thing, unconcerned with the strict outlines, gesture photography frees us from the ‘news photo’ aesthetic to allow us to capture more of the inherent feelings expressed through motion.
Photographers around the world have been liberated by the realization that a camera does not have to remain static during an exposure. This series of techniques is called ICM. In fact, allowing it to move is a fun and creative way to extend the ability of cameras to focus on things around us that we never notice otherwise.
As a subject moves across a background, or the camera pans across a static background, we see the future layered on the past.
I must confess that I use people as paintbrushes. Their colours smear and blend across the background, which is also in motion. This result isn’t a painting, but it’s kind of not a photo either. It’s a metaphoto, because I used a series of a few dozen images to create this composition, a photo of photos. Not a photo, not a painting; I think of it as a lensing.
‘Lensing’ as a verb also refers to the effect of solar atmospheres on light coming from more distant stars, changing their apparent size and position.
a collage of photos that expands both the space and time period it portrays.
An area of sharper focus in a blurred image, due to moving the camera in sync with a subject while the background blends, or due to sharper and blurrier portions of timewarps
When both the subject of a photo and the camera move, the resulting image shows not just the motion of the subject, but its relationship to the camera’s moving point of view.
Though objects in motion leave trails, the edges of those 4D structures can be in sharp focus, unlike a photo that is blurred due to being out of focus
I take ‘decisive moment’ street photos, landscapes, abstracts and animals, and in these areas sharp focus can be very satisfying. When I play around with intentional camera movement and longer exposures, the resulting blurred image have an emotional effect all their own. So I refer to the two main threads of my work as stills and blurs.
We understand that an image of reality is not the reality itself. But if we suspend disbelief we can enter the world in which new perceptions are possible, and when we emerge we can see our reality in new ways. Think of how the discovery of perspective in drawing changed art, and our perception of reality, in the rennaisance.
Just as we move our arms and legs to make snow angels in snow, we make time angels in time
We percieve a ‘moment’ as a fairly short period – for example 1/30th of a second or less. This is reflected in how many frames per second we need to see in a video for the motion to look real, and for a single image to look sharp and focused. As we widen this moment to, for example, half a second, we start to see an equally real view of reality that we can’t perceive directly with our eyes and brain. This is one form of time dilation. Another flavour of time dilation is when, in a composite image, we bring together moments that happened at different times.
When I make time dilated composite images I call them Timewarps. The ones done with long exposures of people are timewarped in two ways: the length of the moment for each character, and the length of time in the overall landscape that appears simultaneous.
We percieve a ‘moment’ as a fairly short period – for example 1/30th of a second or less. This is reflected in how many frames per second we need to see in a video for the motion to look real, and for a single image to look sharp and focused. As we widen this moment to, for example, half a second, we start to see an equally real view of reality that we can’t perceive directly with our eyes and brain.
By combining images that were taken at different times into a single composite images, we can stand above time and perceive the metamoment of a wider frame of time.