The 29-Day Blogging Challenge: N is for Night
I don’t sleep much; never have, really. 5 or 6 hours is a standard night, but I can go days, even weeks, on much less. This proved quite helpful in university when exams were piling up, report and presentation deadlines were fast approaching, and I still had to contend with a raft of extracurricular commitments and part-time jobs. No matter how long the day, how tiring its schedule, a fresh pot of coffee and some tunes were all I needed to dig in for a long night of studying. I seemed to come alive after the sun went down, as though night was my natural state. Perhaps I am nocturnal.
Even these days, with a much lighter but no less demanding schedule, I love the nighttime. Don’t get me wrong, this city is stunning in the daylight – the multicoloured buildings, the budding greenery, the fashionistas sashaying down the sidewalk. (Side note: One thing I’ve noticed is that no one wears sunglasses here. If there’s even a smidgen of light peeking through the clouds I rock the shades, but will be the only one on the street wearing them. Maybe it’s because they’ve spent their lives pining for sunlight during the long dark winters and don’t want to waste a singe ray when it finally breaks through. Odd…) Anyway, the city is gorgeous at any time; but I prefer Stockholm once the sun starts to set, and the city is bathed in a sepia-toned hue. If you squint your eyes a little and de-focus the light, the scene looks lifted from a war-era postcard.
Soon enough, sepia gives way to black and white exposure, where there is little discernable colour but the texture of the city shines through. The attraction of a particular building at that point is not its reddish-brown facade or tarnished rooftop – it’s the texture, the interplay of shapes, the building itself, not its colour. Walking down a narrow cobblestone street or along the waterfront is a stunning sight in grayscale, pierced randomly by candles lit in the windows, or soft lighting in a cozy cafe. I love watching shadows dance when a car’s headlights pass, and seeing the pulsing depth and detail of a centuries-old building, its carved columns and entryways, the cut-stone path leading around the corner.There is surprisingly much to see in the darkness of night.
As a sometimes-photographer, night is my favourite time to shoot. Technically, I find I have much more control over the light, the exposure, the way I want the image to appear. And in a city like Stockholm, which was only ever accessible via old black and white photos back home, I can capture the images of this place that I still have in my head. I love shooting people at night as well. (That sounded like the deranged and unbalanced sniper in me talking, but I’m still referring to photography.) I love the darkened shadows, the points of light, the contour that even low-light sources brings out in people.
We’re headed to Amsterdam in a few weeks, and one of the things I’m most looking forward to is heading out onto the darkened canals and down the shadowed alleys at night, camera in hand, ready to capture whatever bit of architecture or raucous shenanigans I happen across. There’s just something about old cities, buildings that grew up in the last few centuries, the old mastery of masonry and urban development. Amsterdam is definitely one of my favourite cities to shoot, so pics – perhaps heavily censored – will be posted later…
But as it is NOT currently nighttime, but rather mid-day and I’m losing precious lunch time, I’ll end off here. (I warned you some of these entries would be pointless.)
Previous posts: Introducing the 29-Day Blogging Challenge; A is for Anonymity; B is for Busses; C is for Canada; D is for Dogs;E is for Expatriate; F is for Failure;G is for Google; H is for Hedgehog; I is for Indian food; J is for Jill, obviously; K is for Kurt Cobain; L is for Listerine; M is for Mac&Cheez