The First One

Mushy Times Square, New York City.
Mushy Times Square, New York City.

Time Square. New York City.

I made this picture in 1991. I was in New York for business and probably the big photo convention at The Javitz Center. We had a little free time so we wandered around and looked at stuff. One of my walking partners was Chuck O’Rear, a pretty well-known National Geographic photographer. He was hip beyond the era. For instance, he wore red-framed round eye glasses. Not many people did that back then. I don’t think many people do it now.


Since I was shooting Fuji Velvia, which had an ISO of 50 and was best used at ISO 32, he suggested that I switch to aperture priority, set the f-stop to f 5.6 and let the camera do whatever it needed to do to make the correct exposure. He also said that since the human body has some constant natural movement that even if I braced myself against something, working like that without a tripod would still introduce motion blur. So, I should just let the picture be really blurry if that was my intention.


At ISO 32 with an f-stop of 5.6, the shutter speed was around two seconds. This image was the result. Getting to it was controllable, so I could repeat it. Which I did in various forms for many years.

Why is this important? This is the first time I ever did this intentionally. I fell in love with this approach. I used it whenever I could. I experimented with different f stops and shutter speeds. I am at the point that I can pretty much predict the outcome of these kinds of impressionistic motion studies.

With the advent of digital photography, I could do it more and more often and check the results on my LCD. But, like so many other photographers I fell into the sharpness trap that digital capture offers. Oops. Time to get back to my mid-career roots.

My early career? Photojournalism on black and white film. You’ve seen some of it here, now and then. If you want to see more, let me know. I was going through some it a couple of nights ago. At least the material that I’ve already scanned. It wouldn’t be very hard to show a few images to you.



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