I have always been drawn to dark images, I like strong definition. I keep going back to night photography not just because of its stark beauty but partly because I have little free time and most of it is during the hours of darkness. People get scared of the dark, it gives a strong emotion much like the warmth of the suns rays or early morning mist in an image.
I’m no stranger to long exposures, I’ve dabbled in various forms of light painting before but recently I have been really trying to do more scripted work. My Hasselblad lends itself beautifully to this. If you think shooting medium format slows you down, try shooting it at night! Sometimes you are struggling to see anything through the viewfinder.
Night shooting has a different set of rules, strange people come out at night (you’re one of them) I’ve been shooting in fairly remote places so it’s important you do consider the dangers. You have time to do this whilst shooting long exposures, once you’ve fired the shutter you could be waiting an hour to release it.
People I have seen whilst night shooting fall into these categories, boy racers, midnight lovers (doggers), kids out smoking weed and tramps. These people can be intimidating however once I imagined what I looked like (hood up, head torch, staring into the distance, by myself) I look fairly intimidating. I wouldn’t approach me, none of them have. Just remember a sturdy tripod can be used for more than stabilising your camera.
Since posting a couple of night images I’ve been asked what settings and how long I’ve been exposing the image. There is a lot of information online about this and all of it contradicts itself. I’ve been emailing Andy Martin about this (check his night and wetplate work) his responses have been brilliant. It is also the same way I shall reply, its important you figure it out yourself. Night time is not just black, you get clouds, you get different moons, you get street light, you get shadows. It’s impossible to apply a sunny16 rule to it. In some scenes 15 seconds will make virtually no difference but in others it can be massive. It also scripts if you want clean images or concentrate on astrology.