Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of the Dark: Night Photography Edition

Let me clear something up right away. If you are aware there’s a burgeoning ghost population, live in a high nighttime murder density population, have coyotes known to seek out human flesh specifically when it’s dark out, really feel that Sean Hannity rubs you the wrong way, don’t have a penchant for fruitcake, can’t get over the fact that white chocolate isn’t actually chocolate, or positively can’t shake the feeling that monsters are indeed in your closet—though statistically that’s only true 19% of the time—then you absolutely should feel afraid of the dark. But for those of us who realize that the darkness holds more mystery than fear, well, nighttime photography can be the most awesome thing since sliced bread.

If you’ve done night photography before, you know of the new worlds that can be discovered. If you haven’t, you should take a chance and try it sometime, for it’s so much more than photographing stars or the moon. When you turn your flashlight off and let your eyes adjust while taking short or long exposures, you realize that it’s a way to see everything with a new perspective. Everyday objects become shadow shapes. Your ears almost become supersonic, and your mind tries to trick you. The sky is incredible, and if you’ve never stood outside and stared up for at least 10 minutes, you’re missing out on realizing how small we really are—and how much of the solar system we know absolutely nothing about.

There are different techniques that can be used in night photography—long exposures, light painting, star trailing, stacking, reflecting, etc.—but instead of explaining it, I’ll post a few photos from my recent trip out west. California and Utah’s rocky landscapes in particular made for fascinating nighttime shoots, and no rattlesnakes attacked me while I was out in the desert, alone, at 2 a.m.