july, august and september
In 2012 I attended DI’s FastForward retreat on Vinylhaven. I had recently heard of a photographic technique that allowed time to be a focus of the work; these weren’t just long exposures, but l o n g exposures. The image made on Vinylhaven was 5 days of our time together.
Since that time, I have made dozens...maybe hundreds of these images that have ranged from 5 days to 3 years. The process is an excellent exercise for my hurry-to-the-finish-line personality. It forces patience, and often disappointment. After months of waiting for an image, I’ll open the camera to find that water seeped in or bugs ate the film. Whenever I travel the first thing I do is find an empty tin can to tape an aperture to. I get asked a lot of questions about the process and although I can tell you the basics, much if it is magic and I prefer to not know the science.
Most solargraph cameras face the sun, because it will draw beautiful imperfect lines across the sky.
My current, and future practice has moved away from that novelty and I have been pointing my cameras north. I’m interested in the subtle changes that appear. These are typically printed very large and viewers are able to immerse themselves in the details. The image below captured a snowstorm in the river bottom, and while several feet of snow were dumped in the forest, in a few weeks it was gone. The result on the image was that of a softening, a revealing of the ground over time. Minor White says “ No matter how slow the film spirit always stands still long enough for the photographer it has chosen.” I love that.
My Backyard: July, August and September of 2018
Earlier this summer I mounted a tea tin camera in my backyard. It was placed in a barrel of flowers and the blurry lines that are in the foreground are of the flowers growing, blowing in the wind, and then dying. Last week we had a blizzard that took the garden down. I took this camera down just yesterday, so perhaps some of that blur is the snow that accumulated as well. At some point the camera was knocked a bit, because I can see a tower sculpture that Glen made in the background has shifted. The camera had been secured pretty tightly, so what was it that had the force to move it? An intruder? A determined skunk? Was there a shift in the earth that no one noticed? These are the questions I ponder with these images, and what will keep me moving forward for years to come.