Whether it is through extremely long exposures or the blink of a fast shutter, I always know that coming home and firing up the virtual lightbox to develop my shots, I will be treated to portraits of a parallel universe; a world I might have inhabited at the time of shooting but which flowed in many alternative directions and to the beat of countless additional tempos I just did not have the bandwidth for.

Take the following snapshots for instance. Moments frozen in time, many layers seemingly compacted into a narrow scene, yet each element exists at a radically different pace, disconnected from others.

The tanker approaches, gritty

The surprisingly well-equipped fisherman below is focused on his catch—or the lack thereof—and counts his blessings in minutes and bites.

Just behind him in the channel, a tanker cruises by at low-wake speed, oblivious, its journey metered in weeks, thousands of miles, hundred thousands of tons and millions of dollars. Life is flowing fast for the former, and painstakingly slow for the latter. And there I am, adding my own timeline, melting both of theirs through my lens. I love those shots!

Caught in the act
Caught by the act

Then let’s look at these scenes gathered throughout the shores of the New York Harbor and Five Boroughs. An exposure length of twenty to thirty seconds has smoothed the wrinkles out, eased the passage of time, deleted the presence of us short-lived earthlings, goldened the hour and given the world back its elasticity, its tendency to do nothing and just be.

This is the lovely New York one must imagine, or feel, for it is never truly witnessed by the naked eye. This is where Neo chooses the red pill. Or rather doesn’t.

An iconic photo spot, its own timeline slow-dripping like molasses
Brooklyn Bridge, co-inventor of the famous caisson disease, a diver’s nightmare, standing still
Looking at the Lower Manhattan in slow motion
Here I could not remove the boats gently swinging around but time is flowing sluggishly
Verrazano Bridge relieved of all human presence, whether road traffic or boats
With enough time, the beach and sea blend into a calm shore – Staten Island
Staten Island shoreline, slowed
And this is just the present, a perfect sync of birds, camera and beachgoer, at last