All images ©ericweight 2016

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My nature

Photography is by its very nature as much about recording time as it is about recording pictures. In fact the more I think about it the more obvious it becomes that it merely captures time and presents it in picture form. With that thought in mind, I wonder why we are all so intent on recording the minutest amount of time possible in each photograph and making that image as sharp as can be. Surely there is some merit in stretching that image in order to capture more of it. What are the benefits of recording more time in an image, how can I use that idea to create something interesting and what can I say with it? I don't know yet, but I aim to find out and to that end offer some early images, among which are two from this week and one that I took several years ago that back then was a discard. One that I was so taken with at the time, that I couldn't bring myself to delete it. In fact it is still one of my favourite images.



I am a nature photographer first and foremost, but now, the subject is enhanced and better described by the addition of time, and the pictures become three, rather than two, dimensional. Nature and the passage of time are inextricably linked anyway through the cycle of life. That immediately frees me from the need to produce a textbook, pretty, and comprehensive portfolio of species. Now I don't need eagles and otters, pheasants and squirrels will do fine. It no longer matters what the subject is, only how the picture depicts the passage of time in its life, or in general.

Stretching time can illustrate the transience of life and the different speed at which living things live that life. The squirrel is gone, he has become ephemeral, but the trees are still there. Time is a very fluid concept in nature. A mayfly's lifetime is measured in hours not years, a shrew has to eat every couple of hours or die, human beings and elephants live more like 'three score years and ten' which in itself is but a moment in the life of a yew tree. A fast shutter speed captures an instant and freezes the life out of it. I have always been puzzled by the popularity of pictures displaying animals caught mid hop, skip or jump. Frequently, I feel we are just laughing at them because they look ridiculous. Even Cartier Bresson did it with his famous flying woman image. Granted with the gear he had at his disposal it was a technical achievement, but do we really believe that demonstrating our technical ability is all we can achieve with our cameras?

The first and most liberating thing I like about adding time to an image is that a frozen image now appears dead whereas a blurred or stretched one has movement, and that is the difference between a stuffed animal and a live one, between taxidermy and reality. Really, I am surprised at this sudden new craze for 'mannequin' photos and videos, photographers have been doing little else since the camera was invented.

This idea is not the easiest to resolve, however. There is an element of luck involved. The shutter speed required for every exposure is different (these pictures were captured at speeds ranging from 1/250 and 6 secs ) and varies depending on whether and how fast the subject is moving. There is also an element of surprise in the result, as I never know what the outcome will look like. So far I have employed a fair slice of luck, but that in itself adds something to the picture. The lack of technical mastery displayed adds value, because successful results are unavoidably rarer. The ephemeral squirrel, was the best of several taken in one burst, all at the same settings. Only in this one was he stationary for just the right amount of time to both show up and be transparent. Normally I take a burst of images and get half a dozen virtually identical results which are the sorted by the standards demanded by the traditional order.

Obviously it is easy to look at these few images and think, ‘ well he has just gone for the blur shot’ and yawn, but most of those kind of images that I have seen have been trying to depict speed. Speed and time are not the same. I am looking to capture something else, and only time will tell if I succeed.