Submitted Date 09/05/2019

Painting With Light
Age 56, Morehead City/Beaufort/Down East, North Carolina, 2000
Experimenting with slow shutter speed digital photography

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
~ Albert Einstein ~

In 2000 I crossed an invisible threshold
one that other photographers could have crossed
but had not

deliberately, I bought a digital camera
that would expose for seconds
and not fractions

I had guessed that there was a world
unseen and that the new technology
with its instant feedback
could give me the tool I needed

later I would understand
that my life had been leading to this point:

a notebook about Einstein and space-time
written at age thirteen
and my decade long detour into computers
plus my study of Muybridge's figures in motion
meant that I was up to speed
with the new photographic medium
still in its infancy

not understanding the dimensions
of this world at first
it took a while to get my bearings

I did it step by step:

first mounting a tripod
on the large hump inside my van
next to the dash
so that my camera peered
through the windshield
into the dark vanishing point
of the highway

for 8 seconds
points of light stretched across time
until the shutter closed -
now strung with bright yellow dashes
from blinking warning lights,
now streaked blood red, top to bottom,
with brake and stop lights
as I slowed into stalled traffic

prowling the highways
I cruised the dark back streets and brightly lit bridges
and coasted through the city's main drag,
all the while keeping my eye pealed
for flashing lights
neon and areas of glass
shiny metal that added reflections

I did this
on clear nights or
when a low cloud cover lit the sky
I did this in hard rain, drizzle and mist -
the wetness acting like a mirror and a lens

after months
I pulled the camera off the tripod
and shot handheld -
the wavy lines more interesting
than the straightness
imposed by the tripod

soon I parked
and panned in rhythm
to cars creeping through downtown
or tourists ambling along the waterfront

then against the darkness
I took 8-second shots of my wife
from the passenger side
as she drove her car
lights streaming behind her
and later musicians on stages
their movement painted
against the blank canvas
of the night

and somewhere along the way
I began to 'get it'

what I was doing was expressive
- as I had hoped -
but more than that
these shots were glimpses
of movement through time

where the passing moment
was now smeared like paint
across the frame

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  • Kiersten Felch 5 months ago

    Your art sure is something else.

    • Rick Doble 5 months ago

      Thanks, many people love but some hate it. Which surprised me.

  • Kiersten Felch 4 months, 3 weeks ago

    Well, it elicits a response, which is the point of art after all.

    • Rick Doble 4 months, 3 weeks ago

      You are right -- I did get a reaction which means it has power.