Almost all of the images in these portfolios were made using a mid-20th-century 4x5 or 8x10 bellows camera. The exposures usually take place in very dim light and consequently range in duration anywhere from 3 minutes to 3 hours and are made with anything from the kitchen stove light to the strong, full light of the winter moon. Because the film is allowed to "see" the scene for so long, elements of the scene that are absolutely lost to the human eye at the time of exposure are revealed in lavish detail after the negative has been processed. This shooting in the gloaming is a very particular visual vocabulary, primarily because one never sees the scene at the time of shooting exactly as it will eventually appear on the film.

One might well ask why I work this way when I could shoot in daytime with a certainty of what's out there and for a fraction of the time it takes to render the same scene at night. The answer to that question is complicated. At first, I photographed at night because I, myself, wanted to be out in the world when it was at its most quiet, dark, and restful. Later, though, I stayed out all night because I loved the visual results. At night the elements of a scene have a completely different relationship with each other than they have in the daylight. The continual distraction of daytime details falls away, leaving only the bare bones of a composition. Additionally, stars and planets leave their trails across the sky. Colors shift. Light-reflective objects seem, instead, to emit their own light. In other words, the visual vocabulary changes utterly. And rather than loudly proclaiming its contents, as a daytime composition would be tempted to do, the nighttime version speaks sotto voce, only whispering its impression of what was there.

 

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