A Website Without Any Digitally Montaged Images!
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.
Below are some statements I would like to make about night photography, if my thoughts here are too boring please feel free to ignore them and head straight to the image galleries!:
1. Night Photography - Seeing Our
World With Visitors' Eyes
In the daytime our
vision and minds work together to produce generally "ordinary"
views of our world, and as a result of over familiarity most of us
are in real danger of failing to really SEE anymore. At
night our vision and perceptions are less secure, become
questionable. This hopefully gives night photographers a
better chance to see beyond our often jaded assumptions about our
daylight world. We aspire to experience our world with purified
vision without the bias of familiarity, as if we were visitors here. We are transported to a state
of mind where our world becomes, or is shown to be, magic. In this
sense night photography is sacred. This unworldly
state of mind combines with technical opportunities inherent in the
nocturnal photographic process to allow us a great latitude in
visualising and then actually producing our images. The night
encourages individual responses to our visual environment, night
photography is very rarely just a record of what was actually there
in the scene before us. The boundaries between the “objectivity”
of photography and the “subjectivity” of an artist's vision blur
together very rapidly indeed at night.
ordinary nature of our earthly environment can be dignified by
combining it photographically with the night sky, making us see that
the mundane tree/building/landscape in front of us is in fact as
remarkable and beautiful as the stars above them.
The universe is one grand continuum, and it is only sheer scale which gives us the illusion that we live separately from the heavens.
Photography's Special Links with Mystery and Memory
photography often echoes the way we remember the past. Night
photography, like memory, retains some details, and omits others, we never retain everything.
The balance of what is shown in a night photograph, and what is
hidden, can be deliberately manipulated both in the camera and later
at the computer, changing the meaning of the image to suit our
"Forgetting" unwanted details in our images, is a creative act, and darkness abets forgetting. Over
time I have therefore been more and more concerned not to fill every
part of my images with light, I encourage the shadows because these amplify the importance of things which are lit.
me shadow and mystery are linked. Mystery and doubt are at the
heart of our experiences as human beings, and for me night
photography gains dignity and meaning if it attempts to reflect this.
Photography As An Experience
Speaking for myself, 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 like daytime with less light flying around, or is it made from
different colours and moods? Is night just a deficit of
light, or is it in fact the time when the real fabric and aspect 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
Photography And My Place In The World
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
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.
5. How My Images
Were and Weren't Made!
I almost always use
ambient light. My work here effectively documents the change from
silver halide film photography to digital capture, and accordingly each image is labelled to show which technology was used to make it.
Practically since the very beginning of photography there has been a constant debate as to whether photographers should attempt to make images which are totally accurate representations of reality, or whether it is desirable for photographers to manipulate their work for effect. To be clear, if it were illicit for photographers to manipulate the tones, contrast or colours of their work (as well as timing, framing, focal length etc) then photography would not be an art in the first place, merely a way of recording forensically.
But there has to be a limit, defined by each photographer for themself, beyond which point image manipulation has made something "fake", an image which goes beyond a subjectively truthful interpretation (whatever that might mean), and instead creates an image which never really existed at all, a sort of photographic CGI.
It is in this spirit that I state that I do not respect
night images built out of several photographs, for example shooting a sky and then dropping in a seperately shot foreground image in the computer. There is no cut 'n'
paste trickery on my website. If you see an image
here you may be sure it really is of a single scene at a particular time. I do digitally enhance my images in line with what was reasonably possible in the
darkroom, for example changing contrast or colour balance/saturation and even occasionally holding back image details using luminosity masking. (Luminosity masking means that when confronted with a scene whose dymanic range cannot be recorded in a single exposure I might combine two identically framed shots which differ only in their exposure times, the image composition totally reflects the actual arrangement of objects that was in front of my camera). But I do not invent compositions digitally by combining shots of different objects - which sadly seems to be the fashion just now.
You are, of course, free to disagree with me.