A few weeks ago we drove our son out to start school in St. Paul, Minnesota. From our home the trip is over 1200 miles and passes through seven states. That meant a whopping 18+ hours behind the wheel—almost all of it on i90.
Even though I was traveling with two of my favorite people on the planet, a trip that long ismonotonous and boring. I didn't bring my knitting or a novel. And the few magazines I dragged along weren't interesting. So when I wasn't driving I really had nothing to do. But that wasn't a problem.
In fact, I was good bored. My mind wandered. I had quiet time to think and stare out the window. I found myself watching the windows as if they were a movie.
This past July I attended a photography workshop. One of the most engaging speakers was Karen Messick who introduced her favorite iPhone apps. Karen has a bright and breezy style that is very empowering. As her lecture wrapped up I sat in my chair downloading several apps including one called Slow Shutter Cam that lets the user capture motion blur and light trails. (I love my iPhone but have found myself frustrated by the lack of control over shutter speed at times.) Another day photographer Mollie Isaacs talked about creating abstract photos with impact. And Deborah Sandidge shared her work that shows visual narratives through time and motion techniques—using long exposures, double and multiple exposures.
Although I wasn't specifically thinking about these lectures, I suppose they were in the back of my mind. And in the car, with lots of time to fill, I began experimenting with capturing and presenting our road trip in photos. Using Slow Shutter Cam to capture the images I then edited them in Snap Seed on my iPhone and then shared them on social media.
I was intentionally trying to show the relentless motion of the road. At first glance they might feelsimilar. But upon inspection you start to notice the variations—the changing colors of the landscape and farms, the cloud formations, buildings, guardrails, power lines and other structures, cars and trucks, and even wind turbines.
It was a fun diversion and a great creative exercise. I love this little set of images. They are a good reminder that creativity can happen anywhere.
I even noticed some of the photographers that follow me on Instagram experimenting with the same techniques recently.
In an interesting parallel, on the way home we listened to NPR for a while and heard a report about Norwegian Slow TV. A broadcast featuring 7.5 hours of video out a train window as it drives from Bergen to Oslo. The show turned out to be immensely popular and was watched by two million people—roughly 45 percent of Norway’s population.
One reviewer says "It’s super long, but there’s something deeply relaxing and almost hypnotic about the smooth motion (and it is super smooth) of the train as it makes its way through diverse landscapes in the southern part of Norway. It doesn’t have the stunning camera quality of some of the other episodes (think GoPro mounted on the front of the train), but it still captures the beauty of Norway’s landscape and gives you a great wide-angle view of the mountains, forests, lakes, and water."
There is something to be said for a long journey and for boredom. While the routine of road food and hotels is exhausting. The drive was cathartic a surprising opportunity to create some fun artwork.