Portfolio - Nocturnes

Because of the way our night vision works, objects, people, and landscapes change in the dark.  In darkness shapes become distorted; what was once a tree becomes less solid, takes on new meaning.  Places that were familiar in the daylight become difficult to recognize.  Darkness is also the realm of sleep, and therefore the realm of dreams, a place where reality is transformed. To me, night is a time and a place where the logical world starts to break down and our fears and fantasies are allowed to enter in.  It is about the play between the light and the dark, about lonely landscapes where people don’t usually venture.

My photographs are about movement, the play between light and darkness, and also about subtle or singular color. These images show the play of light and dark, and the shifting nature of shape over time.

Long exposure times, varying between 1 and 15 seconds, are required to get an image.  These long exposures also allow the film to pick up the movement of my hand, of my body, of my breathing.  I leave my own ghostly imprint just as the structures, objects, landscape, and lights leave theirs.  The movement of the camera serves to distort the scenes that I’m capturing, imparting a sense of motion to the objects within the photograph.  An element of abstraction is also imparted to the images, emphasizing the natural abstraction that happens to objects at night, when we can no longer see shapes clearly, and which is often taken away by long, steady exposures.  Even the lights themselves are distorted, creating ghostly shapes and giving the scenes an ethereal quality.  By abstracting my images I am both showing a very personal view of the night and allowing the viewer room to bring more of their own impressions and interpretations; by changing the shape of the landscape, I open it up to new ways of thinking.

The longer the exposure and the more the camera is moved while the shutter is closed, the more abstracted the final image is.  An initial composition consisting of balanced lights and darks is chosen, but once the shutter opens I no longer have any way to tell how steady the camera is, or what I’m picking up through the lens.  I create a second darkness, and I have limited control over what happens in that darkness. Trying to stay as still as possible, with one eye pressed against the now lightless eyepiece of the camera, I can no longer see what it is that I am photographing.  This creates a tension between giving up control to process and to acting instinctively, and asserting my own control over the piece.

Nocturne 26
Nocturne 36
Nocturne 35
Nocturne 33
Nocturne 37
Nocturne 35
Nocturne 24
Nocturne 23
Nocturne 7
Nocturne 14
Nocturne 8
Nocturne 2
Nocturne 38
Nocturne 9
Nocturne 10
Nocturne 17
Nocturne 31
Nocturne 39
Nocturne 6
Nocturne 22
Nocturne 41
Nocturne 34
Nocturne 4
Nocturne 3

© 2023 by JACK SMITH PHOTOGRAPHY

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