It is not often that I allow myself the time and space to stop or simply slow down. When I do find myself in a moment of pause, I am often left with a feeling of unrest. Admittedly, a part of my desire to come to Antarctica has had to do with a deep longing to escape both the societal and self-induced pressures inherent to the 21st century. An era filled with ideas of endless growth and relentless perseverance that to me, appear to be bulging the seams (perhaps both literally and metaphorically) of first world nations.
For a need of wanting to allow myself the freedom to move at a slower and conceivably more considered pace than I usually find myself traveling, I decided that when I came to Antarctica I would make a series of long exposure pinhole photographs. The process of exposing film paper over the course of several days to several months with a pinhole camera. Nearly a year ago, in a rather serendipitous way, I met the Seattle based photographer, Janet Neuhauser who just so happened to be leading, 'The Pinhole Project' - a long exposure pinhole camera project.
Janet was kind enough to teach me the ropes of long exposure pinhole photography and off I went. Before I left home I made 12 small pinhole cameras and since I have been on station, I have made approximately 10 more. The cameras are simple light tight containers with literally a pinhole serving as the open aperture. They are set either in or outdoors and left for several days/weeks and then 'developed' by scanning.
It is a simple process that takes only a small amount of active time but one that challenges patience. Because I am so used to the instant gratification of digital photography, to wait a week (or much longer) for a single picture, can be trying. But the long exposure captures everything that a digital photograph could never quite grasp in the same way.
Like the idea of time measured by light with the movement of the sun through the sky.
A poem rather than a definition.
I believe that my intrigue to this type of photography comes from the same place that many other photographers find it - from a want to slow down and really look and see again. While my digital camera is no doubt a marvelous thing, I have to ask myself, what good are the thousands of pictures I have taken in just a few weeks? And how will they compare to the couple dozen or so pinhole images I will leave with, when all is said and done?
It feels good to slow down and see more with less.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 1158885.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.