My recent rediscovery of photography has led me back to a discipline that was at one time something I enjoyed above almost all other types. Long exposure. Slow shutter speed creations rather than still captured images, where the elements blur and blend to produce something that can only be produced by camera. A gathering of many moments in one image, instead of a fraction of a second.
Before I really took an interest in photography, I used to draw, sketch, paint and it was something I was fairly good at. However it was all too slow for me, waiting for paints to dry in particular, dulled the excitement of creating images. Photography however allowed me to create images immediately, to produce hundreds of images in the time it would take for the paint to dry and allow me to add another layer.
Slow shutter speeds take photography into another dimension. The movement of objects and subjects add depth to images. The blur of grasses moving in the foreground of a landscape photograph, the light trails created by vehicles on a busy city street add life to otherwise stationary captures. For me the ultimate in long exposure photography, is on a beach recording the motion of the waves almost as a fog of white amongst completely motionless pebbles and grains of sand. Perhaps the attraction is to do with having lived near a beach in Cornwall for ten years. When I look at an image of a beach with soft blurs of the waves lapping against the smooth dark surfaces of boulders or golden sand with each grain glistening in a sunset, I can almost hear the hissing of the sea, smell the bitterness of the salt water, feel the spray on my skin.
This week is the third time in a month my wife and I have visited the town of Blyth on the Northumberland coast, with the intention of shooting long exposure photographs. There is nothing quite like standing in the almost dark on a beach; a camera on a tripod stood before you as the final rays of sunlight disappear into the horizon; exposures in minutes rather than seconds; the light fading as rapidly as the quickly made exposure calculations.
Unfortunately for us, out of practice in the art of standing in the cold North East wind, we only managed a handful of shots before deciding that we would rather view the now black sky from the fish and chip shop. Regardless it was still enjoyable and fulfilling and something that I will be doing much more of as we move into spring and the days begin to get warmer.