Night Photography by David Baldwin




Celebrating 10 years of Nightfolio since 2004!

Welcome. I hope you will enjoy your visit to my site. If you are a night photographer yourself you will need no convincing that night photography offers an amazing portal into a beautiful and timeless reality. If you are new to night photography then I invite you to browse through the various notes and photographs on the site.   I include carefully chosen links to my favourite night photography galleries.

Some thoughts on night photography

In the daytime our vision and minds work together to produce generally "ordinary" views of our world.   At night our vision and perceptions are less secure, become questionable.   This allows the night photographer a great latitude in visualising and actually producing images.   In night photography colour and contrast are often very different from daytime, sometimes the complete opposite of our normal experience.  This allows us to see our world with new, almost alien eyes.   Additionally at night we can see deep into space, and the awe we feel and the grandeur we see hopefully infuses our images.

Night photography is about mystery.   One powerful justification for photography in general is that it encourages the discipline to look hard enough to see the hidden wonder all around us.   Night photography in particular rewards this discipline because of its inherent concern with difference.  Time, colour, darkness, location, technology, personal vision, solitude all combine in new and personal ways everytime the night photographer goes out.

Photographic technology is constantly changing, and this has had an enormous impact on night photography. Film had an entirely different emphasis and texture to digital capture.   For years I learned to love the grain, atmosphere and palette of push processed transparency film.   Nowadays I am more impressed by the speed, tonality and sharpness of digital night photography.   Speaking entirely personally, with the advent of superb digital SLR cameras (dating in my view from the release of the stunning Canon 5D Mk2), there is little reason to carry on using film at night.   The night photographs on this site effectively reflect the changeover from film to digital*.   

For me a night photography trip is a purifying, simple and highly personal experience.   This feeling of simplicity and purity is emphasised by my solitude on site.   A promising night photography location is like a theatre set when everyone has gone home, the location and atmosphere draws extra power precisely because people are absent, either "safe" locked up in well lit homes and cities, or lost in the past.   I am therefore mostly interested in night photography away from direct electrical lights, I want to avoid suggesting the presence of others nearby. I like to explore the loneliness of night.  That is not to say I can escape the lights entirely, living on a small island I must come to terms with the inevitable light pollution from city lights, so I am often paradoxically exploring country locations against the backdrop of urban skyglow.   My work sometimes feels like a conservation of what remains of mood and atmosphere before England totally fills up with roads, hastily built housing and office blocks. Then Night in its true sense will be forgotten, and we as a culture will be even further cut off from our real identity.

Being outside at night is a primaeval experience too, and for me raises the same questions repeatedly. Apparently simple ones, for example is night just daytime with less light flying around, or is it made from different colours and moods?   Is night just a deficit of light, or is the time when the real fabric and meaning of the universe is revealed to us?   Day can be viewed as just the lucky proximity of a star, whereas most space is far from bright light, night therefore rules most places in creation most of the time.

After my years of night photography it is no mystery to me that our prehistoric ancestors, in many times and places, aligned markers of stone with the stars.   My work has shown me that subconsciously I have the same obsession with uniting the landscape and sky.   I believe that is why so many of my images attempt to join dark earthly silhouettes with the unattainable sky above.   Trees, churches and other elements replace stones as markers, for me mysteriously giving meaning and accessibility to the stars beyond.   For that reason my work is landscape not astronomical photography.

My time as a night photographer has also given me a kind of composite mental library blending my memories of different locations and times with the starry "landscape" above.  Now if I look up at particular bright stars I can remember other occasions and accompanying moods when I photographed under those stars.   The sky has become a kind of personal diary in my head, and this website is my attempt to project at least a flavour of this outside of myself.   I hope very much that you find something of interest among the images here. 

*Modern digital cameras can produce images we could only dream of as recently as the turn of the century. However, to my mind digital photography has unlocked the genie of extreme composite night photography, the taking of separate images of different places and skies, or taking photographs of the same scene at different times of day, and combining them into one single (dishonest) image.  Sadly it is the fashion just now. If you see a photograph on my site you may be sure that it represents my interpretation of one real scene taken in one exposure with no cut'n'paste or photomerge fabrication.   I offer photography, not computer simulations of photographs.



Copyright Notice - David Baldwin asserts his copyright over all his night photography images shown on this website.  Unauthorized use forbidden.