I love going out and shooting during the night. Is that a little weird? I don’t know. It’s certainly not the usual time that photographers focus on. Mostly, it’ll be the golden hour or blue hour that are the most popular times around the edges of the night. However, for those who have followed my little and infrequent blog for a while now, they will know that the night is one of my favourite times to shoot.
I get a bit of a buzz about going out and shooting at night. I like shooting the streets in London, the hustle and bustle of people alongside the neon signs and shops makes for interesting scenes. Typically, I tend to focus on black and white images to emphasise the pervading blackness that is the night.
In my local vicinity, I have tended more recently to focus on the buildings and physical environment more than people. Mainly because Salisbury and its surrounding area has a vastly less dense population. I have been tending to shoot these images in colour, hand-held using a camera within in-body image stabilisation (IBIS). I could (and probably should) use a tripod, but the thought of setting up a camera on a tripod on a street at night doesn’t sit well with me. It feels like a way of drawing more attention towards myself than I would like. Thus, using a camera with IBIS works well for me (I can get around 1/4 second handheld, longer if I lean on something).
Going out at night in the winter can be a somewhat odd and slightly dissociative experience. As the sun is setting around 4pm at the moment, it becomes dark soon afterwards. I was out the other night just after midnight (a quick trip to the local 24 hour Tesco to get some food for the next morning). There were a lot of people about, seemingly just milling around, and cars moving here and there. Even though it was after 12am, it felt like it was about 6pm. It was quite confusing. However, it was also quite relaxing and invigorating. Occasionally, I like to head out late at night to see what images I can get under the amber glare of the sodium lighting (more on this below).
Last month, I shot a project based on Robert Macfarlane’s The Wild Places book. The work has been done, the e-book edited and the postscript in its final drafting. It’s not the sort of work that I usually do, but it was very enjoyable. There will be a handmade book as well, because the project was designed around the premise of it being presented in a physical book format. In short, that project is almost finished now.
This month, I have started to look for parts of the town that are still under the garish gaze of sodium lighting. Unsurprisingly, the project is called Sodium. I will blog more about this project a little later, but the main thrust of the project is to document the disappearing sodium lighting that has made up our familiar experience of the night in towns and cities for the last 40 or so years. The trend is to replace the old orange sodium lights with more energy-efficient LED lighting. However, here is an image from the project that is currently under way.
There will probably be the usual free e-books available for The Wild Places project, Sodium and another What Catches My Eye e-book is being planned. I need to try to get a better system for displaying the e-books as there are a few now dotted throughout the blog. Maybe a new page on the main menu? The originals are made in Adobe InDesign exported in Epub format, which reads better than the pdf format I end up using for the blog. I will try to set it up so people can get the better viewing experience, but I haven’t found a way yet to do so with WordPress. I hope you all keep well until the next time.