Oh, what a night!

"Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work." - Chuck Close

I have been feeling extremely uninspired for a while now, completely uncreative and unmotivated to go out and make pictures. When I am busy as hell, swamped with work, and have no time, I seem to always find the time to get out and shoot for myself, work that inspires and drives me, I guess it's because the creative juices are already flowing. When work is slow and I have all of the time in the world, I do nothing! I find myself sitting around thinking of all of the things I want to shoot, yet doing nothing. Well work has been real slow, and it's winter, and it's cold, and I'm uninspired, and blah, blah, blah. I was out Wednesday night and having kind of a crappy night, I came home and sat in front of the TV and thought of the quote from Chuck Close. Screw this! 12:30, I got up, packed up my gear and some very warm clothing and went out to do some light painting. Light painting always cheers me up. For those that aren't familiar, light painting is basically shooting in the dark or darkish, using a long exposure to soak up the available light, and "painting" in areas with a light source other than the available. For most of the shots below, for example, the exposures are around 4-5 minutes due to the full moon providing good available light, though I have taken other photos with exposures as long as an hour. I then paint in certain areas with a spot light to accentuate or add depth.

There's something very therapeutic about being out alone in the middle of the night, when the rest of the world is asleep, it's quiet, it's eerie, it's surreal, and for me it's amazingly refreshing. I have time to think, to reflect, and to be alone with nature and alone with world...and try to make some cool pictures!

I started off driving down to Cedar Bonnet Island, about an hours drive, at about 1am. This was the only thing I planned on doing for the night, a place I have photographed before and wanted to again, this time with some snow on the ground for a different feel. I've often thought about doing some seasonal series of pictures, the same or similar photo during each season, inspired by Monet and his seasonal painting series. I got to the sight at about 2am, grabbed everything I'd need, and headed out. The shack, the focus of my pictures, is about 200 yards or so off the road and in the middle of a marsh, which makes for some fun navigating at night as the depth of the water varies and you can easily end up waist deep in water. I was fortunate and only ended up ankle deep for most of the night.

Cedar Bonnet Island 2:20am.

Cedar Bonnet Island 2:35am.

Cedar Bonnet Island 2:45am.

Cedar Bonnet Island 2:55am.

Cedar Bonnet Island 3:00am.

Cedar Bonnet Island 3:15am.

After finishing up at Cedar Bonnet Island, I was having so much fun and getting good pictures and generally feeling so alive that I didn't want to stop. I drove up to Island Heights to try for more. Island Heights is a small town, not quite a square mile, located on the Toms River and Barnegat Bay. There are a a few broken down docks there on the river that make for some fun photos.

Island Heights 4:20am.

Island Heights 4:30am.

Again, after finishing up in Island Heights, I just didn't want to stop, I was on a roll and the adrenaline was pumping! I headed to the Manasquan Reservoir in Howell, there's a causeway on Georgia Tavern Road with a great view. I've shot here many, many times, the trees coming out of the water have always had a very surreal feel to me, like a Dali painting.

Manasquan Reservoir 5:55am.

Manasquan Reservoir 6:05am.

Manasquan Reservoir 6:15am.

Manasquan Reservoir 6:30am.

As you can see, the first signs of dusk were showing as I was finishing up at the reservoir, so I decided to try to make it to the beach for sunrise. I drove to Ocean Grove and made it about 5 minutes before the sun peaked over the horizon and it was gorgeous!

Ocean Grove 7:25am.

Ocean Grove 7:30am.

Ocean Grove 7:35am.

What a night/morning!!! 7 and a half hours, 140 miles, and some great pictures that I am very happy with, I felt so alive! I need to do this more often, though by the time I got home and to bed I had been up for 32 hours, so maybe next time I'll spread it out a bit more.

All Images ©2011 Mike McLaughlin / All Rights Reserved www.mikemclaughlin.com

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