When My wife and kids went out of state to visit my mother-in-law, I found myself alone in a normally busy house, and the feeling of solitude quickly became too much to bear. So I packed up my gear and headed for the busiest place I know–Los Angeles.
I knew exactly what shot I was going to get. It was going to be a long exposure, and I that was good, because if I was going to shoot Los Angeles, I knew I’d need to get a starry look. To get this, I set my aperture to something very small. In this case, it was f22 (the small aperture is what gives the lights that really cool star effect…the smaller the aperture, the more pronounced the effect becomes). The exposure would need to be enough to get some detail in the buildings, but also not so long that everything everything turned muddy grey. I never use a timer or watch when I do long exposures. I’ve been doing them so long, that I just count to myself. On a really long exposure, I don’t even do that, I just sort of feel the time as it passes. I suppose this is one of the advantages of making pictures for about 30 years, a lot of what you do becomes instinctual.
It was a nice way to spend the night, and took my mind off of being without my ladies. That’s what photography has always been for me, comforting noise in a world of silence. It has taught me patience in times of sorrow, and has given me the opportunity to reflect upon that sorrow in better and happier times, and through that, to appreciate the many good times I’ve had.