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The Time of Night

I’ve been a night time person for nearly all my life.  I love staying up late even though I work early. It’s the way things look and feel at night.  Everything is hushed.  There’s restfulness and anticipation occupying the same place.  I like taking photos at night not only for the pictures themselves, but the process.  I wander around trying to see things.  I like taking time exposures, but that means dragging along a tripod and with a digital camera it means draining battery life to keep the shutter open.  My favorite method is to just use a steady hand, a slow shutter and wide open aperture. Do everything free hand and as I go along.  I’ve been taking night photos for a long time – I recently found some prints from a night shoot I did with my room-mates in the summer of 1980.  I was trying to be the famous (to me) street photographer Ralph Meatyard – hence the masks and cryptic posing, which were kind of his signature along with using kids as models….

This is the first shot…we were at this dock where a large great lakes passenger steamer was hooked up – it was around 2 a.m. I remember I told Wally, my roomy, to grab hold of the ship’s bow line and hang from it. When he did it the entire ship listed towards the side he hung from – his weight shifting the huge boat.  Freaked us out and we almost quit right then and there.  But we decided to retreat, have some beer, then go back and finish.

Here I put a bag over my head and got in the frame with Wally.  Our other roomy, Phil, who was an actual professional photog, took the shot using a short time exposure.  Phil thought it looked great and proceeded to take the rest of the shots that I mapped out.  Except for the last one that I did with a timer because Phil had to leave to go pick up his girlfriend who worked at a bar.  We took a few more shots until the cops showed up and told us to go the hell home.

Thirty years later, about two weeks ago, there was an ice carving competition downtown and I went to take some night shots of the ice.  It was bitterly cold…single digits….it was only about eight blocks from my house so I decided to walk.  I wanted to take pictures along my journey.  When I got down to the competition it started snow in great gobs and I cut my time off because it was just blowing around too hard and I was freezing.  The walk home was really great though.  The streets were deserted and everyone was hunkered down in their little hidey-holes.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 8th, 2011 11:15 am (UTC)
LOVE these photos -- particularly the one of the odd little twinkley booths for the ice carving competition. Also love the Modern Jazz Quarter.

Odd, but I cannot stay up late in winter. I can in other seasons. But in winter, all I want to do is sleep. Some diurnal hibernating hormone as yet undiscovered by science, no doubt. :-)
Feb. 8th, 2011 12:34 pm (UTC)
The little booths are 100 pound blocks of ice that were set out in preparation for carving by the various teams participating in the competition. I'll post pictures of some of the work later.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )