Monday 23 November 2009

Long Exposure Photography: It's not all bad

On Friday I wrote about how early photographic techniques excluded people. This was because exposure times were so long that all moving objects were reduced to little more than very faint blurs. To us Social Historians, this is not exactly a Good Thing, since the resulting photographs are profoundly different to the reality of the scene depicted.

So, today I thought I'd write about some of the positive aspects of this blurring of motion and compression of time. One thing that I find really interesting are 'desire paths': the little eroded paths made by groups of individuals who 'desire' to take a short cut.

Long-exposure photography can reveal the desire paths that don't erode an imprint. A really nice example of this is City of Shadows by Alexey Titarenko. His long-exposure shots of crowds in St Petersburg make people look like smoke, mostly flowing along the familiar paths of least resistance. People aren't excluded: they're the subject of the picture.

Perhaps the most extreme example of the long exposure is Jason Salavon's use of custom computer software to merge whole collections of unique images. For example, he has revealed the 'average Playboy centrefold' and the 'average graduation portrait'.

Again, individuals blur together to produce profoundly interesting observations about people.

Come back next Monday at 3.09am for the next installment in this humorously pompous and increasingly tiresome series!