In this post I examine how photographers use slow shutter speeds to capture movement through time in the frame, rather than freezing a moment in time by using a fast shutter speed.
Robert Frank’s work in The Americans (see separate post for details) includes some photographs with blur, but I am not convinced that this was a deliberate creative choice and rather a managed side-effect of shooting in limited light, without a flash, while aiming for moderate depth of field. Similarly Robert Capa’s (1915-1954) work included blurred images – featured in Magnum Photos (http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_9_VForm&ERID=24KL535353 – accessed 6.4.15), of which he was a founding member. Again, I suggest that this could have again been a side-effect under the extreme conditions of war, rather than a deliberate creative choice, while bullets were flying. Nonetheless, in both cases, the images featuring blur somehow offer a stamp of authenticity on the moments captured – they are not perfectly composed frozen moments in time, but events captured in a chance moment, passing before us in a blur.
A number of photographers make deliberate use of movement blur in their work through intentional camera movement (ICM). Chris Friel’s work, shown on his own website, http://www.cfriel.com (accessed 6.4.15) uses both double-exposure techniques and camera movement during long-exposures to create a sense of movement in time and painterly effects. Doug Chinnery in his movement series captures a sense of passing of time in his landscape work through the creative use of blue – http://www.dougchinnery.com/galleries/movement/ (accessed 6.4.15).
Similarly Valda Bailey, who was influenced by both Friel and Chinnery, seeks ‘to push the boundaries of what photography is about and strives to produce work that has movement and energy’ – http://www.valdabailey.co.uk/about.html (accessed 6.4.15). Pep Ventosa’s work Street Lamps is a series of fascinating images of long-exposures showing the movement on scenes around street lamps as fixed, unmoving objects – http://www.pepventosa.com/gallery.html?sortNumber=4&gallery=Street%20Lamps&skipno=0 (accessed 6.4.15). Finally, I also enjoyed Rob Hudson’s abstract landscape work, Memories, Dreams and Reflections that uses double exposures and ICM – http://www.robhudsonland.co.uk/section690567.html (accessed 6.4.15).
At the extreme of long-exposure techniques, we find Michael Wesley, who has capture exposures of up to three years – http://itchyi.squarespace.com/thelatest/2010/7/20/the-longest-photographic-exposures-in-history.html (accessed 6.4.15). While the resulting images are strangely beautiful and evocative the passing of time, I have little interest or inclination to spend this amount of time making a photograph.
Until reviewing the work of these photographers, I’d had little exposure to these techniques and kind of images. Perhaps they have only recently come to the fore with the advent of digital photography, placing them more readily within reach of photographers. It is an area I wish to explore in my own work and develop knowledge and experience of the techniques involved.