“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” — Ansel Adams

Joseph Balson

Night walk

Insomnia, boredom, loaded battery, unusual warm weather and the certainty of being totally alone during a stupid pandemic: that can only end in a night walk shooting stuff.

I have a couple hours before sunrise and a dead city to wander. The discrepancies in public lights mixing LED and sodium for some unknown bureaucratic reason won't drive me crazy: I will shoot black and white. The colors are totally boring flat and uninteresting anyways.

I can focus on lights, shapes, shadows, contrast; and forget about storytelling. Here, the story hides in the dark, not my concern.

Shooting at night is just better. No need to interact with another biped. For some reason most of them are insanely suspicious when they see a big black scarry camera. Some even get aggressive. And they are even more aggressive since that virus thing began. I'm done dealing with that BS.

No traffic either: no risk to get hit by someone simply not paying attention. And most of them don't. The worst circumstances definitely doesn't bring the best out of people. It is actually quite the opposite.

This is a dead city, so during daytime it's not exactly as chaotic as let's say Manhattan. Still, night is so much more peaceful. Silent. Deserted.

I like quiet, I like silent. I like the night. No sensory overload. It's so much easier to let what I see get in my brain, and let it do its thing: analyse the visual contents, find something interesting and visualize in black and white, then find the right framing and shoot. It's amazing because it's basically a background task that doesn't really involve any conscious process.

There is something fascinating with a street vanishing behind the horizon. I always liked perspectives and leading lines. I thought I took the 35mm, but it turns out I took the fifty. I don't regret that mistake. I really like that angle of view, and that lens is just super creamy, even when shoot at 25K ISOS.

I can take my time, frame exactly what I want to frame. The scene is waiting for me. Only one time constraint: the sun will eventually rise.

The color balance is so messed up, but it's also an advantage: in post I can adjust it to get the color contrast I want, and fine tune the black and white chroma luminance to my liking.

One would expect that place to be more live when the sun is about to rise, but nothing happens. I could be the only living being in the universe.

Everything is here for me and only me: the lights are there to allow me to shoot, the benches to allow me to rest.

I know I'm not totally alone. Too bad. there are people behind those doors, windows and blinds. I very intentionally don't account for them. They are not even ghosts to me.

And now the sun is rising. I notice more and more crosses. It's just time to go back and hide in my lair.