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Nighttime

It’s trickier to take pictures at night, but the rewards are well worth it.

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Scouring my photo library recently, it dawned on me (no pun intended) that I rarely take pictures at night. I hate using flash, and since I rely exclusively on my phone camera these days, most nocturnal images I do take just aren’t that great.

But then I found this one, below, and immediately started thinking again of nighttime shots — of all the rich textures they can create, and of all the ambivalent, intriguing stories they can tell.

I took this photo in Paris a few years ago. While most windows in my apartment brought me almost within arm’s reach of my neighbors’ laundry, one of them opened to a great urban landscape of balconies, chimneys, and lots and lots of clouds.

Right at the center was this one residential building — a typical, unassuming mid-rise by day, which turned into a half-spooky, half-inviting monolith at night. I loved seeing its contours and details change with different levels of moonlight and cloud cover. Then, one night, I got lucky and took this shot. To me, it conveys something quintessentially Parisian: the promise of mystery and surprise lurking underneath heavy layers of cliché.

What nocturnal photos do you like taking? Whether it’s a starry sky, a street lamp, or the shadows cast by your cat, share them with us. Your shot can be outdoors or indoors, blurry or crisp, overexposed or ominously dark. As every owl (and night owl) knows, nighttime is when the real action starts.

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  1. Don’t take this the wrong way, but a man who thinks night photography involves using the built-in flash on his cell phone should not be in charge of a photo challenge. At the very least, you ought to have some respect for those of us that take our art seriously and know the difference between depth of field, an f-stop and our elbows.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Love the photo and the thoughts expressed in the post!

    I thought ‘Paris’ as soon as I saw the shot before I read the post, and it wasn’t because of the grisaille but because there’s something about Paris. I love the way buildings there often have an inner courtyard which is claustrophobic, sometimes grungy, stained by the rain, where you can see the real life going on (and see other people’s laundry, dirty or clean), and then there is the outside, the side which faces the street which can be grand and imposing with far-seeing views, which often masks what is inside and inspires you to imagine.

    I also don’t often shoot night shots, because I haven’t bothered to learn how to do it yet. However occasionally I just take a shot come what may and it can surprise. Isn’t it fun to discover your own shots. Sometimes I question whether I actually took it or if the camera did it while I was asleep.

    There’s a filter in photoshop which allows you to turn day shots into night… it’s not the same as a night shot, but it can mimic the mood… the rest is up to our night owl imagination.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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