**The Camera Never Sleeps**
Nightwork and Time Exposures:
In the early 2000’s I started experimenting with time exposures and light painting.
It began when I pulled up to a ranch gate a little after dusk with my headlights on. The lights lit the gate, and the last light of day was still visible in the background.
I liked the way it looked, so I got out of my truck and made an image.
That stewed in my mind for a while, and sparked the series I called the camera never sleeps.
I had recently rented a house on a ranch 12 miles south of Marathon. Talk about dark skies, when there was no moon, you couldn't walk outside without a headlamp.
There was a stand of agave and yucca plants in the front yard and one night I set up the camera, opened the shutter and “painted” the plants with a light, and closed the shutter. When I processed the film I was quite surprised by the results. Too much painting the light for one thing, but still the image was pretty sweet. One of the wonderful things about shooting film was when I was making portraits I knew when I got it, but for landscapes, and especially this work it was mystery and learning curve. I started to set up the camera at my campsite, paint the plant with a light and go to sleep leaving the shutter open to record star trails. If I woke up in the middle of the night, I would close the shutter and start again. Sometimes I overslept and the film was burned white. I lost a lot that way.
I started to experiment much more. I would change f/stops, lenses, locations, film backs. I did a few where I made the star trails on the negative and then made portraits double exposing the piece of film.
I had four film cameras at that time, and I would set them up all over the park. One night I had one set up at Sotol Vista, one at at Santa Elena Canyon, and one on Maverick road. I put reflective tape on the tripod legs so I could find them.
But the best one for me personally is “Sleeping Pattern”
Marci says when I sleep, I am a jumping bean, twitching and jerking, and she, who wakes up in the same position she fell asleep in, says I disrupt her.
I have a rack built above my camper shell, and I sleep there under the stars. One night I set my camera on the rail of the rack pointing to the stars, got in my sleeping bag and opened the shutter and settled down for the night. The result was great. Every time I moved in my sleep it jiggled the camera and recorded my sleep through the stars, making it not only a biographical image, but proving my bride right.