Seeing In the Dark

Light. That was the first thing that caught my eye when I held my first camera. Even then, at 12 years old, I was pulled into photography by the nuances of light, and how it changed the features of the landscape around me. I was enamored by the view of the world through my lens--that attraction pulled me into photography.

I began my career as a commercial photographer in the early 1970s, in my 20s, and was drawn to study the effects of light and focused on honing illumination techniques--whether in the studio, outside on location, and for hours alone at night inside the darkroom. To me, photography has always been both an art and a science. 

When my son was born in 1993, I took a break from my photographic career to focus on something that was - and still is - my most important role: being a mother. I began seeing the world through new eyes again. I took my camera everywhere – capturing moment after moment of his childhood from baby to little boy. As he grew up, I started shooting landscapes again. Fortunate to be in a town full of artists and galleries, I began exhibiting my new work locally.

Then, in March 2011, my life as a photographer changed forever. Star-gazing on a very clear, dark moonless night over a nearby Atlantic beach with my spouse and a few friends, I took a few shots, curious about what I’d see in the dark. I posted one of the pictures on Facebook, and within minutes a renowned Provincetown gallery owner clicked “Like” and commented, “do you have any more of those?” I've been working the "Night Shift" ever since.

Here's that first shot, Star Car, taken near Truro's Highland Light in the Cape Cod National Seashore:

Today, my technique has evolved: I photograph landscapes at night to incorporate the dark sky as my “canvas”; extended exposures capture the stars. I “paint”with standard incandescent and LED flashlights to illuminate the foreground subjects such as trees and cottages. The images are captured in one shot without digital manipulation, and I create both Giclee and metal prints.

I’m equally inspired by what I see and feel out at night – and by the people who see my night photographs and share their feelings with me, when people tell me that they too can feel that they’re “out there” – and connected to everything as they look at my images. At almost 60, after nearly 40 years as a photographer, it’s amazing to be venturing out into the middle of the night to create art. As I stand there, looking up at the stars in the middle of the night, I often recall the words of astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson from his amazing interview now known as The Most Astounding Fact, “we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the Universe is in us.”

Stopping for the night just past the Milky Way.