April 15, 2009

Physical, Photographic, Abstract Expressionism

A three-story stone edifice, Poet's Seat Tower, sits atop a ridge between the towns of Greenfield and Turners Falls, Massachusetts. The view is wonderful, but what struck on this dawn was the cinematic effect created by the lights that illuminate the tower-top flag.

Stray lighting peeking through a drain hole gave the scene a mystical feel. "Stonehenge," I murmured.

I revel in photographing the same scene in multiple ways. So I slowed down my shutter speed and then began lunging back and forth while tripping the shutter.

Then I shook the camera.

Then I spun.

I was really enjoying myself on this crisp Spring morning. The sounds of bird songs and the flapping flag filled my ears. I felt fully alive. I love the physical aspect of photography.

I set my camera to overlay multiple images. "Move over Jackson Pollock, " I thought, as instead of flinging paint on a floor-bound canvas like the abstract expressionist, I painted layers of sky onto my camera's digital sensor, twisting and bending as I worked.

Morning Clouds, 2009

All this before heading off to teach. However, driving down the ridge, I realized I lacked an establishing shot. On another day, after scouting locations, I went to shoot again.

The time of day and mood evoked for me photographer Gregory Crewdson's highly produced movie still-like works. Lacking a production crew and models, I put the camera on a tripod and used the self-timer, sprinting down the street and then posing before the shutter clicked.