photographs | bob meador

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December 24, 2004 - We were driving back to my mother-in-law's house outside Great Falls, Montana, following Christmas Eve dinner in Helena. I was riding shotgun and supposed to be keeping an eye out for deer, but the deer weren't very busy that night, so I decided to amuse myself and try some long exposures out the truck window. Shooting out the side window. Most of these are 30-second exposures: the shutter was open for approximately half a mile as we moved through the rolling landscape. Nearby hills and objects were obliterated by the motion; more distant hills and buttes created impressionistic shapes. The time was close to midnight on one of the shortest days of the year, and there was only a little moonlight through light clouds. Little if any manipulation was done to these images. At most, a small amount of contrast and brightness to accommodate the small size shown here. Driving through more populated areas, the lights of farmhouses added their own element to the images. The ghostly glow at upper left is the reflection of the instrument panel off the truck window. Self portrait Willo at the wheel By the time we reached home I was pretty excited by the results I was seeing. I wanted to explore further so I wandered around the yard behind the house. Here the moon backlights a winter-bare tree. Hand-held, 30 second exposure. Once I got the moon out of the frame, I discovered that if I left the shutter open long enough, colors started to appear - the same colors seen during the day, but more intense. To the naked eye (remember, it's midnight) the sky is black behind the clouds, and the grass is gray. It seems that the colors are still "there", even though we can't see them. I was falling in love with the moody, gothic feel of the hand-held shots, but decided to try one with the camera resting on a fencepost. The shadows are cast by the moon. The glow in the immediate foreground is coming from the house, but beyond the first tree all light is ambient or from the moon. If you look carefully at upper left you'll see a few stars. Another fencepost shot. Midnight. Darkest day of the year. During this shot, a skunk emerged from beneath the shack and walked toward me and right, exiting through the bottom right corner of the frame. Since the shot took 30 seconds and the skunk never stopped, he ends up being invisible. December 25, 2004: midnight - The next night the sky was much more overcast. The distant glow is Great Falls (~30 miles away) reflecting off the clouds. December 26th, 2004: midnight - A dusting of snow brightened the ground considerably. With the heavier cloud cover, Great Falls' glow is not visible.