For several years, I experimented with a digital technique called HDR (High Dynamic Range). Essentially this technique involves combining multiple exposures of a scene to render a longer tonal scale than the electronic sensor is capable of achieving with a single exposure. Usually this technique assumes a stationary camera and relatively stationary objects in the scene. Interested in stretching the technique further, I began to experiment with using long exposures at night with a hand held camera. This guaranteed that the separate exposures would not line up exactly. I became fascinated with the way the software would handle these misalignments. All kinds of interesting and unexpected things began to appear in the resulting, compound image.
In 2007 I found myself in New Orleans attending the wedding of a friend’s son. My wife took sick leaving me with lots of time to explore alone. As I wandered the streets in and around the French Quarter, I began to wonder what would happen if I used the hand held HDR technique looking at the crowds, colored lights, architecture, and waterlogged atmosphere that define the French Quarter. I spent two long nights walking the quarter with my camera, making the necessary raw material for HDR treatment.
When I returned home I began to process what I had gathered. I was intrigued and a bit surprised by the result. I was drawn the way parts of moving bodies blurred and sometimes partially disappeared in the midst of vaguely misaligned static elements. I began to believe I had captured the raw digital data I needed to build an evocative suite of images.
I have worked and reworked these images for several years and have finally come to a resting place that I feel holds the sense mystery, celebration, gesture, and despair I experienced in the post-Katrina Quarter. This work isn’t journalistic; it is personal. These are less pictures of New Orleans than they are portraits of an experience.