Into The Woods

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I always have felt there is a strange relationship between still photography and time. Each still image captures a moment, but could it also capture time passing? I decided to try some long exposure pictures made with a pinhole camera. My colleague and friend Amos Chan built some simple pinhole cameras that used 8×10 film holders to hold the film. I chose to use color and black & white photo paper instead of film. Since the tiny aperture of the pinhole provided lots of depth of field I chose a subject that would be close and far. I photographed trees from low to the ground looking up into the sky. The Wald series required 5-8 hour exposures for the Ilfochrome paper so I only got 3 exposures per day. I would place the camera on a tripod under a tree in my New Jersey yard, open the pinhole (a piece of tape served as the shutter!) and left the camera to record time and motion and the changing light.  I placed a note on the camera: “Please do not touch – this is a camera taking a picture – if you have any questions call me at 212-XXX-XXXX”  I would set a timer on my watch and go do something else. Sometimes I had to call my wife or a neighbor to stop the exposure if I was out of the area when it was time. The undeveloped images were saved up until I had 20 to process because the processing machine could do 20 at a time. It didn’t make sense to load it up with chemistry for just a few images. As a result I didn’t see what I was getting until about a week later. The B&W images were a bit easier since they exposures were shorter – 10-15 minutes were great. I even took one with myself leaning against the tree. These images captured motion and time as the sun moved through the frame as time passed for the long color exposures.

A selection of the Wald pictures is on my website.