About the "Nocturne" Portfolio

About the "Nocturne" Portfolio

Photographs are a slice of time. Most pictures are made when there is sufficient natural or artificial light so that the slice is a tiny fraction of a second that quite literally freezes and memorializes an instant. But photographs can also be made during larger slices of time with very little light. These exposures can last for seconds or minutes, or sometimes with alternative photographic processes, for hours, days or months. 

Rather than recording the scene in front of the lens at the instant the shutter is released as in normal-light photography, light slowly builds a picture during long exposures, recording things that are reflecting or emanating light, while leaving deep shadows undisturbed. This extreme contrast produces a very sharp, clean, highly-defined, often uncluttered photograph.

People who happen to walk in front of the camera during a long exposure will not be recorded, while lights from moving cars and other objects may mark their passage with streaks on the film. Buildings and other stationary objects will be rendered sharply, while the wind may blur flags, vapors, or foliage, creating an interesting visual contrast.

It is this ambiguity that interests me in night photography. The low light levels can often not be accurately measured with a light meter, so an educated guess is necessary to obtain a good exposure. Sometimes people or things will be in the scene long enough to leave a "ghost" image, affecting the picture in a way that cannot be anticipated. Unlike photographs that I make under normal light, exactly what the film recorded cannot be known until it is developed and printed. This is a liberating and refreshing departure from the very precisely controlled photography that I usually do, with its very predictable results.

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