Last year I stumbled upon the work of Tokihiro Sato in a little coffee table book called Photo Respiration. If you have never seen any of Sato’s work, take the time and punch his name into Google. His super long exposures combined with the sun reflected off of a mirror or the trails of a flashlight are very ethereal. One of my favorite images of his is actually the very first image in the book, #22 from 1988 (Seen below, image found at this site). This image makes the light feel so dimensional and tactile, it looks like you would have to push it aside like long stalks of grain to make your way up or down the stairs.
I decided to experiment with Sato’s technique. My clumsy attempts were far from graceful and nowhere as elegant as Sato’s work, but I am starting to get a feel for it. The first experaments were with my 5D mkII. For whatever unknown reason, the bulb mode on the mk II requires you to hold the shutter down for the duration of the exsposure, that is unless you have a cable release. I did not have a cable release, so my esposures were limited to 30 seconds. Not nearly the 1 hr. + exposures that Sato did unfortunately. Below was as much as I could accomplish in 30 seconds, manually popping a 580EX II on both sides of the tree, and running across the frame with my small LED flashlight. Obviously this is pretty elementry, bit I feel like I can take it much further. None of Sato’s work that I have seen features any human subjects. It might be interesting to create scenes where there is human interaction with the light. I shot a few longer exposures containing more “light” with my Mamiya 645, but I have not processed the film yet. I’ll do another post with images once I get a hold of a cable realease and or process the film.