Chased by the Light Matt 16 Dec 2005

12 comments Latest by Sammy

Magazine photographer Jim Brandenburg, who normally shoots tons of rolls of film per day, decided to embrace restraint and give himself a challenge: Make a portrait of the north woods in upper Minnesota over the ninety days between the autumn equinox and winter solstice.

The catch? He could take one, and only one, exposure per day. No second chances. It’s an especially big challenge when you consider that his subjects included moving targets, like wild birds and wolves.

Brandenburg describes a day when he feared he waited too long to shoot:

But perhaps because I was patient, and perhaps because, as natives do on a vision quest, I had reached my physical limits, I became open to the possibility revealed by a single red maple leaf floating on a dark-water pond. My spirits rose the instant I saw it, and although the day was very late and what little light there had been was fleeing rapidly, I studied the scene from every angle. Finally, unsure of my choice, I made the shot anyway, thankful at least that the long day had ended. Once more I was surprised by the result. The image seems to have a lyrical quality, with a rhythm in the long grass.

The full set of images wound up published in the November 1997 issue of National Geographic. You can see them at Brandenburg’s site. It’s in Flash (click “Gallery” and then “Chased by the Light”) but also provides an HTML slideshow of the photos.

[via Kevin Kelly]

12 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Kandace 16 Dec 05

Simply lovely. Thanks.

Jake Ingman 16 Dec 05

His book is simply amazing - the coffee table book you can’t put down. Highly recommended.

Gayle 16 Dec 05

Oh, it’s beautiful! I’ll be sharing this with my digital imaging students for sure…

Ryan 16 Dec 05

I read that issue and remember the story. Truly inspiring and beautiful work.

twistofrhyme 16 Dec 05

i have several (male) friends who think that if their personalities/body types were represented as animals, they’d be timberwolves, or eagles, or lions or some similarly muscular, grandiose predators. looking at brandenburg’s wolf photos, however, i know the truth- my male friends are all terriers, or monkeys, or maybe hamsters.

Chad 16 Dec 05

Not trying to sound unappreciative…but is this for real? “I couldn’t figure out what to shoot, blah, blah, blah.” After looking at the photos, couldn’t he take another picture of tree bark?

Ashley 16 Dec 05

Very well done and wow I can not believe he was so patient to put this piece together.

Ben Sinclair 17 Dec 05

I recommend the DVD as well. Very inspiring!

Sammy 19 Dec 05

In my spare time, I am an amateur (read: hack) photographer. Not too long ago, I put down my quite-wonderful Canon Elan 7e and started shooting with a Canon 350d. Switching to digital meant that I wasn’t spending an arm and a leg on film and photo developing anymore. I probably shoot about five times as many exposures as I did then.

The thing I’ve learned: the more pictures you take, the better your chances are of getting one great shot. The more carefully you take them, the better your chances are that that shot will be better. So, avoid the trap. Take lots of photographs, but try not to take them mindlessly.