My First Low Light, Long Exposure Photograph Captured in “All Tied In”

Mark / Black & White, North Dakota / / 0 Comments / Like this

As I evolved from documentarist into artist I developed an increasing love of the black & white film format. In high school I spent a very brief amount of time learning the basic mechanics of 35mm film photography, along with film development and printing in a lab at Clayton High School in St.Louis, Missouri in the mid 1980’s. However, for the following years I actually did very little with those skills, other than taking simple snapshots and took little thought behind them.

Near a decade had gone by until I found myself hitting rock bottom, of sorts, where I longed for a mission, a creative outlet. Exploring the vast reaches of North Dakota with its landscape, big sky, and remnants of days gone by became that outlet. I acquired a copy of Photoshop 5 and began taking photos and posting on a website called “Best Photo” to get critiques of my work.

I also dug deeper into perfecting the mechanics and process of approaching and capturing subjects. Being relatively new to photography, I also bracketed my shots by shooting at a few different shutter speeds in an attempt to get just the right capture. I carried a little notebook for years, noting each shot, like a scientist constantly conducting experiments. I have always been a big fan of very depth-of-field photos, the kind that really suck you into the photo. Shooting with an aperture of f/22 with a tripod is usually my solid go-to, and certainly was back then.

With any camera I would still recommend taking notes of your shots with new photographers, because each camera has its own idiosyncrasies and understanding how things differ between your settings and your result is helpful to know. This is much like knowing the slight light and dark differences between the image you upload to an online printer, and the printed product you receive.

“All Tied In” was my first attempt at a long exposure, low light photograph on film. I wanted to be sure to capture the texture of the old wood. I also wanted to capture the texture and detail of the large collection of hay bail twain, most likely discarded over many, many years. These visual elements really told a story to me of the animals that once lived here and the hard work performed in their tending.

Years later I still find myself staring into these photos from North Dakota and imagining the lives of the people who lived and worked there. Photography is so much like a time machine or a window into the dimension of time. It bookmarks a moment and suspends it in an image we can re-visit again and again. “All Tied In” may reach back to 1998, but with its undisturbed setting it reaches back decades further.

If you’d like to purchase your own print of “All Tied In,” you can find it here. Prints are available in metal, canvas, or photographic print. Contact me directly about Limited Prints.

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