Long exposure in confinement

Long exposure in confinement

April 12th, 2020

Long exposure photography works extremely well with landscapes and all kinds of waterscapes. Tens of thousands of photographers’ work is a testimony to this statement with endless inspiring examples from across the world. Or at least so it has been, until we were all ordered to stay put.

Confinement to one place is not what any landscape photographer can call a ‘natural habitat’ – we treat home as a safe haven in which to select, post-produce, print and frame the images, update out websites and carefully plan and rest before our next trip. It is not where we take our cameras out (other than for sensor cleaning perhaps).

Two months is a long period of time during which a lot can be learned. This does not need to be a sorry hiatus. On the contrary – it is a chance to look at one’s own photographs with a critical eye and scrutinise our own development, if it went the way we like it to go. It is a great time to consider any changes to our portfolio. This interruption can be turned into a time of confirmation who we are and who we want to be, not only as artists.

Just to clarify – I do not consider myself a landscape photographer, not at all. Nor do I look at myself as seascape shooter, let along night-time or architecture photographer. My understanding of all those divisions, so popular with others, is very limited – I look at them as building walls when bridges should be build. If I were to come clean on what kind of photographer I am, I would say the very same thing I say at club talks and when asked by my students – the only thing I photograph is light and light is the only subject of my photography. Even portrait photography, possibly the most mischievous kind of the art, is far more exploration of light than of the sitter. Through this, it is the exploration and presentation of the artist, not the sitter. The sitter is only a means to an end, just like the camera sensor or – in darkroom photography – film developer.

Confinement is not captivity and although we are told to say home we are in no way restricted to use our imagination – and cameras. While our back gardens might not be perfect substitutes for wild vistas and rolling hills, many of us started discovering hidden gems there – the internet is now full of blogs and videos to this effect. Re-visiting old, previously side-lined files also become very popular and with often great results. As you have seen in my previous article I decided to look for the best light in flowers which, thanks to my wonderful better half, are ubiquitous in the house. One article on this was enough so do not worry, I am not going to write about it now.

Chasing light is – I believe – but a first step in the long and winding path to become an independent artist. What goes beyond chasing light is where art truly begins – the rare ability to portray ideas, emotions, the even rarer talent of crossing the thick hard line between the artist and the viewer, making the viewer ‘feel’ what he is looking at – no matter if this is a painting, photograph or a building.

However much I am not into photographing people every few years I do attempt to do it. To undertake something out of my comfort zone, so to speak. As they are not though to represent my approach to photography, those files never see daylight. This time though I decided to go a lot further.

Confinement is not captivity but isolation we are all currently undergoing can bring with itself many negative feelings – and as we keep reading in papers it does so for many people around the world. Humans are, after all, very social beings. Our whole history is the history of societies large and small. Deprived of contact with other humans many of us lose our footing and enter the precarious world of solitude and often depression.

I used a young person for my images. A mistake can be made in thinking that it is the elderly who are most vulnerable now. Although the young master all the sophisticated means of communication in a click of a shutter and send millions of messages daily, the feeling of despondency does not seem to be pegging out. Bereft of the daily feed of normality, confined to small space and not physically interacting with their peers they seem to be relying more and more on virtual reality. It is not a playground of happiness but rather a sandpit of broken promises where no real skills of survival can be learned. Some say that current crisis is just a forward to what is yet to come and what is yet to come will be a lot more severe. If that is true our kinds might find themselves helpless. I Hope not.

In this few images I tried to present the feelings described above. Feelings altogether alien to me and I do not know if I in any way succeeded. I leave the judgement to you.

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