Sep 8, 2009

Time in the Woods - Day 3

I like the name "Time in the Woods" for whatever series of photographs come out of this adventure. I took several classes with Todd Hido when I was living in the Bay Area and one of the many things I came away with was to be direct and non-pretentious when titling work. A simple title leaves the work more open to interpretation too. Maybe that's another reason my Viet Nam jungle shoot didn't work for me. Shooting "green" in a jungle that had been sprayed with agent "orange" and calling the series "Complimentary Colors" is def clever, but I didn't come up with it myself. Using it always felt less than authentic. One reason why I switched careers from hi-tech marketing to art was to have more authenticity in my life. Art works best when it has conceptual authenticity; each "touch point" in the work should convey a consiatent and visually compelling message about the person making it as well as about the subject. Easier said than done of course...

Ah, the sun is shining thru my forest canopy for the first time in two days. No rain last night but cloudy this morning and still a bit damp. Feels like the weather is slowly changing for the better.

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I had three 35mm cameras on intervalometers, each automatically taking one shot every 20 minutes and thus exposing two rolls of film every 24 hours. In reponse to all the cards and letters from my fan base, I want to say a bit more about this technique. The exposure is the same throughout the day so as to allow you to better see changes in the light; from dawn, throughout the day, dusk and then the black of night. Once the film is developed I scan each roll and create a frame-by-frame live-action animation. Each 24-hour day will comprise 12 seconds of on-screen time. If I stay here for the planned 10 days, and if all the film turns out as I hope, I'll have a two-minute movie. Or rather three two-minute movies, one from each camera, which I would present next to one another as a triptik. It's a bit like the Wallace and Gromit guy who spends all day making subtle changes to his clay figures to create six seconds of on-screen movement. Except I'll bet he has a place to take a shower.

Exciting stuff, but you still haven't told me in which direction the cameras are pointed. OK Mr Brass Tacks, one is pointed straight up to capture the swaying of the trees in the wind. One is in my camp and pointed out to capture the changing light at ground level as well as to record my presence in the woods. The third camera moves each day and shoots close-ups of leaves or plants. I point my 4x5 in the same direction as that third camera and create a single all-day exposure of the same close-up scene. Those all-day exposures will be made into conventional prints.

Gosh, that sounds like a lot of work to scan all those rolls of film and then animate them! Why not just use video cameras at a low frame-rate for the same effect? Well, image quality is one reason. Scanned 35mm film is waaay above HD resolution and that gives me the flexibility to make stills as desired. Most importantly tho I "see" with the eye of a still camera, not video. Each movie is really just a single shot over time. Yes there is movement but that's not the objective, capturing time is. A still camera is all about time -- time is one of only two variables available in a film camera to expose an image. A video camera uses a frame rate and aperture to create it's's just doesn't have the same conceptual authenticity. Nor the same opportunity to be so obsessive.

And now, it's time to start moving cameras for tomorrow's shoot.

No comments: