Jul 9, 2009


I'm out in the woods in Pittsburgh, photographing fireflies. I've set up my 4x5 and am doing three hour-long exposures tonight. The images may come out as black as the picture above but it is a magical experience nonetheless, sitting here alone in the dark, the trees silhouetted against the sky, the quiet sound of crickets and the occasional reminder of humanity by means of a train whistle or radio blasting from a passing car. The fireflies are an earthly reflection of the starlight above me, and yet are also reminders of how our planet teems with life. It's amazing the simple beauty we miss out on by living our daily routine inside of dwellings which are usually so distanced from nature.

I'm only in Pittsburgh for one more night and suspect firefly season will be gone by the time I next get into the woods. So my goal in doing this is not to create a full series in two nights but rather to use my work to simply notice the passage of time while I am more connected to nature. My 39 minutes project (a visual diary of 2006) was a way for me to connect with the high and lowlights of that year, marked out every day in 39 minute intervals. These firefly images compress an hour into a single visual and mark out time in a different way.

As I've become more focused in my pursuit of photography over the past few years, the two themes of sexuality and time have emerged. I suppose long exposures of fireflies comprise the intersection of those two things as the fireflies light themselves up to attract mates, but I'm significantly more interested in human sexuality than firefly. My 40 over forty series does however live at that intersection as it's about the impact of aging on female (human female) sexuality. I never thought one day "I'm going to shoot a project that lies at the intersection of my two obsessions" but rather was just drawn to it naturally and later get to figure out why. It's nice that my photographic attractions are conceptually consistent as it gives me more confidence to follow my intuition and not overthink things.

Well, a beautiful full moon is coming up and will soon wash so much light over my scene as to overshadow my lightening bugs. One magic replaces another.

1 comment:

sharon said...

Wow! Once again, I am extemely impressed. At first I was uncomfortable with some of the over 40 photos, but then I realized it's because I too am uncomfortable "in my skin."

I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet you. Good luck on your seclusion in the woods. I hope you get alot of great photos. I will be thinking of you when I watch the weather forecasts. I'll also check back to see some of those photos!

You were right, you can learn alot from searching the internet....lol