One of the major differences between painting and photography is that painters have to deliberately paint images onto a surface in order to create their work. Nothing is in a painting that an artist doesn’t want to be there. Photography behaves differently. Of course there are photographers that consciously place everything with in their frame, hire models to pose, and rigorously control the scene, and in post editing they can erase others. There is nothing wrong with this approach. I personally gravitate to another direction. I embrace the unknown accidents of photography. Those accidents that often go unnoticed until I get into the dry darkroom.
Those are the elements that enter into a frame that I either didn’t know or didn’t intend for it to be there. There are also camera malfunctions that add an element to an image that could never have been consciously created. By embracing these happy accidents I fall more madly in love with the art and science of photography.
This image was a complete accident. I had set the camera on manual in order to get a long exposure; however, somehow I accidentally set the exposure to 30 seconds, and I am pretty sure the shutter stayed open for longer than that. I did want to capture some of the blurs in the aquarium but I got much more than I intended to catch. I only got slight glimpse of there long silvery fish. They are only a still echo of the swimming I had witnessed with my own eye.
I took the image home and I have kept looking at it over the past week. What is this image communicating? What am I communicating to the image? When the title came to me I understood what the image meant to me. Those traces of life are there even though most life is not visible unless one looks below the surface. The life that is there when there is seemingly none.