Sometimes when I feel like my work or ideas are getting monotonous I try to think of my camera as a sort of sketchbook and think of ways I might capture ‘sketches’ of the landscape rather than more ‘representative’ photographs. I’ll try using double exposures, long exposures and/or maybe camera movement to get a different sort of feel happening.
These are a few images from a snowy winter evening when I went out to just play. No expectations or specific ideas – in my mind I was simply sketching the night and following my intuition as I experimented. I made setting adjustments as the camera gave me feedback. At times I used flash to capture the snowflakes and elements in the foreground along with exposures lasting several seconds, and at times also moving the camera to see what might happen.
In the first image you can see that I was moving my camera up and down which created light trails from a light source on the other side of the woods. A strange image but there is something about it that I find oddly appealing. Perhaps it reinforces the idea that a camera is a tool with endless possibilities and every so often I need to be reminded of this.
I wasn’t initially planning on posting these as they seemed to be more about process than result – technically they are quite noisy – but I sort of like the soft-focused, grainy look of them and in the end they really are sketches of a snowy winter night.
© Karen McRae, 2014
67 thoughts on “Night Light”
Lovely set, my favourite is the second, moody lighting, foggy and mysterious.
Thanks, Victor. It’s good to hear that it captures the mood of the night.
“Sketching” the night… sometimes the sketches turn out more wonderful than the finished piece one agonized over.
So beautiful!! ❤
Oh, I know what you mean! I think there is a letting go (of control) when working sometimes that feels so good. Well, better than agony anyway. : )
I’love de number 1 of this misterious light of the night.
Great series, karen.
Ah, it was a fun process, Isabel, thank you! I like the unexpected images that happen when you just play.
I love all of them but especially the first one too! Its mysterious…beautiful!
Thank you, Hazel! : )
these are lovely Karen – and ‘sketching’ is a beautiful way to describe your process with the camera. It as you say ‘a tool’ and we all get too caught up with trying to produce the finished piece. I think you caught the mood exceptionally well – explore enjoy and deceive – the last one looks like fathoms under the sea 🙂
Oh, ‘fathoms under the sea’; I didn’t see it that way but I do now, thank you! I love when art can be interpreted in different ways.
Not monotonous, but I can see it is your work, karen. I especially enjoy the last 3.
Thank you, Bente. Sometimes I find it fun to try and push my work in a different direction, just to see what happens.
I love no.2 especially Karen. A very interesting series of pictures. It is fun to experiemnt and not something I do nearly enough.. 🙂
Thank you, Adrian. I took my tripod along but I abandoned it for
some reason and came away with these. It was a beautiful evening to be out anyway.
Your playful ‘paintbrush’ sketches beautifully the night, my dear Karen! 🙂
Hi Marina, thanks very much. : )
I like that you find them painterly.
I like them very much…. and sometimes it’s nice to see the process. I like the idea of sketching with a camera, too.
Thank you, Emily!
The ethereal, ghostly quality of these feel like they capture the pure feeling of winter, rather than a simple image of winter as we see it.
Hi Jenn, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I like the idea of attempting to capture the essence of something – an experience, the landscape, … So I’m glad you find that the images manage to do that in some way.
You always seem to capture the subtlety in such a wonderful way! AND I love seeing the process.
That’s nice to hear, Micah, thank you!
Wow, these are magical!
Thank you, Rachel. In the dark woods with a bit of light….
the final three have an aura of spirit. beautifully ghost-like.
Thank you, Jessica!
amazing amazing amazing
Thanks ever so much, Anthony. I think these might spur some other images.
Love your process and the rewarding images. The mood, depth and colors are wonderful, Karen.
I’m glad you find them appealing, Jane. Thanks very much!
Having worked with film for so long, I still have not quite gotten used to the freedom digital gives me with night photography. These are gorgeous!
Yes, digital photography really does give you a lot of freedom. Thanks, Christian, I’m glad you like them!
Love them all, but especially the last one – looks like a watercolour of an underwater scene, seaweed fingers reaching up…
That’s a lovely description, Kat, thank you.
These look like beautiful paintings — the grain and moodiness add to that painterly feel — lovely, Karen!
Thanks, Neely! It was a fun process anyway, I’ll try it again.
very cinematic & beautiful.
I always think it’s great to see “rough sketches”. It shows a little of the behind the scenes thinking before it all gets polished up. To see that with a camera is wonderful, and something that I hadn’t quite imagined before; sketching with a camera. Thank you for that! It looks surreal and very much of the moment.
Fascinating and eerie.
Fabulous! Love them all!
These are such moody shots. Absolutely wonderful.
Beautiful work as always Karen.
I’m glad you decided to post them! Mysterious and secret, and at the same time warm and inviting, interesting mix.
I like these very much Karen. Such a tactile sense to them. Full of mystery, and they really are sketches, open to interpretation.
keep exploring…these images come through and touch deeply…
They look like paintings! Nice job 🙂
These are beautiful images, Karen. And I know just what you mean about our photography becoming monotonous, such that we feel the need to change, diversify and get onto new paths. I always try to vary my posts, never more than two or three in a row on the same thing.
My favourite here is the third down, it has a definite aura of mystery and magic.
And I’m right with you re our cameras being tools – I like to get to know a camera so that it becomes a part of me, such that I don’t have to think much about using it, I can put all my thoughts and vision into creating the images.
And I don’t think you should worry at all about these images being “more about process than result” – and far, far less about their being noisy!!! – my feeling is that the end always justifies the means, i.e. if an image looks good it is good, regardless of its technical qualities or its mode of production. Adrian
A very creative set. Have you ever tried light writing with a torch?
Yes, very creative photos! They are so tactile, they have so much texture, such a “hand drawn” feel.
Your comments about the camera being a tool are right on. Thank you for sharing your process with us, Karen.
They are as beautiful as any of your images, which is very. And I really like the colour palette.
These are quite lovely!
I love it, it’s as though you’ve captured some part of a fantasy world. Thanks for sharing.
No 2 is also my favorite. Thank you for sharing your work.
These are absolutely stunning photos! Such beautiful colors 🙂
I love the softness and texture of these. They’re very dreamlike. And I dig the pre-Raphaelite palette.
Lovely, Karen! The colors and the mood. 🙂
Your pictures are so beautiful. And inspiring ! I became instantly a follower.
The world transformed and we are transported. Beautiful.
Wonderful images Karen ! I love how you try different things with your camera, the results are always amazing. I really love the 2nd and 3rd photo 🙂
You describe the idea, the process and everything so clearly. I like the images, but particularly when I hear what they’re about. The third photo has a real numinous quality to it.
Karen, it has all been said by those before me, but my comment is not so much about the work, but about your bravery in breaking out and always experimenting and sharing what you find. Inspiring, in a word. Rufus.
Your work is always interesting to me Karen. I am certainly never bored by it !! Yuo have produced another slice of magic with these. I particularly like the 3rd one down..
Love the colors! And the third photo has a special atmosphere, like if ET should appear in a corner or anywhere else…
PS: yes, it is nice sometimes to take the freedom to try something different, out of the box, great!
I like the ET association. : )
Robert, thanks very much for all your kind comments, you’ve been deep in the archives!
What a neat idea! I feel inspired to play more 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
Love these … especially the last one. It has a magical feeling!
Thank you, Denise!