The Sleepless Photographer

 I shared this view with a single crew member on deck.  Everyone else was asleep! (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2014

I shared this view with a single crew member on deck.  Everyone else was asleep! (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2014

There is beauty in the night. And thanks to my enduring insomnia I frequently experience that beauty. What was the first step towards finding the beauty? Accept the lack of sleep instead of fighting it. What can I do whilst everyone else is asleep?

Take pictures!

Necessarily, I have learned much about night photography and long exposures. Not that I'm an expert by any means. There is always more to learn, more to practice, more to experiment, more to experience. I have taken photos at 3:00 a.m. in New York, Paris, Barcelona, at sea, and at home. I have gazed upon the ice-encrusted muzzle of a cow during the frozen twilight. Not even the farmers were awake yet.

Beauty, mystery and reverence

I feel  the quiet, the peace, the beauty of the darkness. There is breath-taking mystery in driving up a highway ramp to see only the blue-black ether ahead. The mystery fills my heart with an unexpected joy.

The silence of the night is sacred.  And even though there are billions of people beneath the stars, I feel as if there is only me...and the Divine.  I can only hope others feel the sacred when they view the photographs taken under those stars. Night time is an experience in reverence.

"Night time sharpens, heightens each sensation
Darkness stirs and wakes imagination
Silently the senses abandon their defenses

"Slowly, gently night unfurls it's splendour
Grasp it, sense it, tremulous and tender
Turn your face away from the garish light of day
Turn your thoughts away from cold unfeeling light
And listen to the music of the night

("The Music of the Night", Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Weber)

Indeed. I know this. I feel this. I hear the music of the night.

The full experience

My experience of the night is expanded as I drive to my designated photo site. Two of the finest podcasts ever produced, "Invisibilia" and "On Being with Krista Tippet" replay in the wee hours of Sunday mornings.  Both shows focus my senses with the soothing voices of the hosts and the compassionate fearlessness behind the stories/interviews.

Dylan Thomas wrote "Do not go gentle into that good night".  Yet, in an entirely different and long-lived context, I do go gently into that good night. And I find it comforting. I find it beautiful.

Bottom Line

During a visit to my art exhibit a gentleman commented, "You have only one photo with a person in it." Yes, that is correct.  There are rarely any other people out and about at 3:00 a.m. I am happy about that.

Start where you are, use what you have.

Hope you are sleeping well.

What is your experience with the beauty of night?