Photography literally means “writing with light,” but for most photographers it feels more like capturing light than actually drawing letters. These images emphasize the parallels with writing with a pen or pencil. I find a promising set of lights. I aim the camera at it. I wave the camera around during the exposure. The lights leave tracks on the image. I marvel at the varied and complex photographs this technique can produce; the images in this book are of a single subject.
My fascination with this series is largely founded in the amazement I feel when I look at the pictures; although I have developed techniques to maximize the probability of achieving the effects I desire, this is not a predictable process. I am not alone in seeking photographic astonishment. I once interviewed Michael Kenna. The conversation turned to the element of surprise in the practice of photography. Michael told me that when he first started making photographs at night, one of the things that attracted him to the enterprise was not knowing how the images were going to turn out. After he’d been photographing at night for several years he was able to accurately predict what the results would be. That was when he began to look for other subject matter.