You are on page 1of 31

Madison Blackwood Environment commission

“If humans were truly at home under the light of the moon and stars, we would go in darkness happily, the midnight world as visible to us as it is to the vast number of nocturnal species on this planet. Instead, we are diurnal creatures, with eyes adapted to living in the sun's light. This is a basic evolutionary fact, even though most of us don't think of ourselves as diurnal beings any more than we think of ourselves as primates or mammals or Earthlings. Yet it's the only way to explain what we've done to the night: We've engineered it to receive us by filling it with light”. Verlyn Klinkenborg

Concept
My initial aim was to try and produce a set of images that show mans encroachment on nature and the natural landscape that remains in the suburban areas of Kent, in particular I wanted to focus on light pollution as I feel it is the forgotten area of pollution in a world that Is ever more conscious about its levels of waste. I want to represent the landscape as an afterthought of our society.

I was lead to this concept through the constant reminders of global warming in the media. Although it would seem there are large levels of scepticism on whether global warming is happening at the alarming rate the media would like us to believe, I knew that light pollution was very real as I have witnessed its effects on the world around me for a number of years so I thought that I would be appropriate for me to further investigate the controversial subject.

What is light pollution?
Light pollution is wasted light that comes from man made light sources such as street lights, interior lighting ,lights from cars and more which pollutes the night sky by making it harder to see the true night sky and stars.

Equipment and processes
Before I even thought about taking a picture I made a list of equipment I would need and made note of some processes I would use throughout this project.

• • • • • • • • • •

Mamiya rz medium format camera lenses (varying from 90mm-180mm) Tripod Cable shutter release Film (with different iso’s) Black card Nikon d90 Torch Phone Map

• Long exposure • Light metering • Using daylight film at night • Camera positioning • Composition

• Time management
• Printing final images well

Potential problems
I wanted to outline any problems I could encounter while working through this project so I made a quick list of things to look out for. • • • • • • • • • Shooting at night means I need to expose my images well or they will be too dark Long exposure shots for night photography will need a tripod Camera shake Dust on negs would show up on the night sky I need to focus my images well although it will be very hard as it will be pitch black Getting around at night Lack of practice in the darkroom Money issues Buying untested film (e6)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdIGJNVUwmE I found this short documentary to be extremely informative. I had watched some videos on ted regarding pollution but none really helped me to develop my ideas. The Taylor teaches video makes some really hard hitting points that I found quite shocking in terms of how light pollution is actually effecting wildlife in a huge way. This video really made me want to show our impact on the natural world that surrounds me. The idea of having light pollution surrounded by natural areas that have no animals in them really stuck in my mind.

Global warming has been a problem to man kind for many years but the facts are unclear as to what has happened to the planet and what people predict will happen to it.
In this report made by the UN’s climate panel the facts and figures concerning global warming are put on the table for anyone to see. (http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/#.UqIVlNJdXsa)

Although the report does not directly link its findings to light pollution it is quite clear that the electricity that is used to power the lights in question and the way this electricity is produced has been having an adverse effect on the planets climate and the results of this are clear for everyone to see. It is not an easy or enjoyable read though.

http://www.britastro.org/darkskies/economic.html
This website had masses of information I found useful to getting an understanding of how much light pollution is actually wasting in terms of money and resources. Some of the figures really made me think about how much this type of pollution needs to stopped or at least cut down. The link above drove me to make some hard hitting prints that would make people think twice about leaving lights on and so fourth. • • £110 million-on average 30% of the light from street lights shine upwards and outwards. The light wasted from the UK’s9 million streetlights costs £110 million a year in electricity bills. £36 million-there are 22 million homes in the UK. If just one in ten has a 500w security floodlight, which is activated for just 1 hour per night, the sum cost is £40 million. Since a 50w bulb is sufficient for most domestic applications, the cost of wasted electricity is £36 million. £880 million-assuming that there twice as many floodlights used in commercial situations than domestic and these are on all night through out the year. £1 billion the total of the above.

• •

Political issues surrounding light pollution
I found this article on the telegraph website regarding light pollution and found it relevant and up to date with my research in to light pollution. Lyneham in West Oxfordshire, near Chipping Norton, has no street lighting and is currently considered as one of the best places in the UK for stargazing. But despite protests from the local community a golf club is putting in four tennis courts floodlit by 24 1,000 watt light fittings. The light output is more than 100,000 lumens each, meaning it will make it far more difficult to see the stars at night. Initially the application to allow the tennis courts to go ahead was refused by West Oxfordshire District Council. But the decision was overturned by the Planning Inspectorate after the Lawn Tennis Association pointed out the benefits of sport. The local MP, Prime Minister David Cameron, admitted that the lighting will be seen from “far and near” and said he shared the local people’s concerns. "Like you I fully support the development of more sports facilities for the many benefits that ensue," he said. "I also understand your concerns in this case that it is an exposed site and lights will be prominent in the landscape from far as well as near. ”Lyneham is in the heart of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, considered to be the second best place in the country for dark skies. It has been shown that dark skies help people to sleep and are good for health and education. The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has been campaigning for more consideration of dark skies in the planning rules. The Oxfordshire branch of CPRE also point out that the courts are unlikely to be used by the residents of Lyneham but by affluent members of the golf club, meaning more traffic. Mr Cameron suggested that under localism, local people should be able to decide and even appeal against the inspectorate. He promised to take up the matter with the Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, so more “safeguards are possible” and there is “more local control so you decide in your community.”

Light temperature chart

Before I looked into any photographic artists I wanted to look for historic paintings that contained light pollution but this was quite tough as man made lights haven't really been documented well in terms of painting however I found that paintings of the great fire of London represent all I need from a painting pretty much perfectly so I began to analyse one specific painting.

The great fire of London painting

• • •

• •
• • •

17th century painting from an unknown artist. The painting depicts the great fire of London which happened in 1666. The painting shows only a small amount of fire however it shows heavy areas of light pollution in the sky. I found the colours to be very powerful as they are put against the black backdrop. The river Thames reflects the vast amount of light which is really interesting and I somehow wanted to replicate this. The buildings break up the painting and I wanted to try this by using trees and a natural barrier. The painting has slightly elevated viewpoint which lets the viewer look down upon the terrible fire. The great fire of London happened during a tense time between the throne and republicans

While searching for everyday peoples thoughts on light pollution I found a page on the Cumbria sky website (http://cumbriansky.wordpress.com/2012/04/04/the-lights-of-blighty/ ). I found it very good to read as it was an informal view on the matter and it made me think about how people actually see light pollution photographically. These images gave me some primitive ideas and I began looking at some different material for inspiration. “As much as I love pictures of, and from, Mars, I’m a sucker for a gorgeous image of Earth too, especially images showing my part of the planet from orbit, and *especially* from the International Space Station (ISS). So when I saw this one recently, showing not just an oblique view of the UK, but some ghostly beams and rays of the aurora borealis too, I was a very happy camper…But looking at that image, something occurred to me – it shows the extent of light pollution from, and over, the UK now, doesn’t it? Every orange dot is a town; every flash of amber a city. All that power being wasted, all that energy just shining up into the sky, utterly, utterly useless…However, the angle the photo was taken from means the UK is very distorted, and it’s next to impossible to ID anywhere except the largest population centres… I thought it might be fun to try and manipulate the image so it looked more like an overhead view, which would then allow us to get a clearer picture of the extent of light pollution here.”

Ori Gersht afterglow(rear window)
Ori Gersht’s book afterglow stood out to me in two ways, firstly because he is part of uca rochestster but mainly the name of the book really gravitated me to it. I took the book out of the library and found it very interesting but this book was also hugely beneficial to my project as it contained some images I found to be pretty inspirational.

• • • • • •

These are the first images I found that actually contain light pollution captured artistically The images contain nearly nothing but sky The colours are extremely hard hitting although they are quite neutral/cold The colours seem to blend into each other. the images were taken over 2 years from Ori Gersht’s window of his flat These images gave me the confidence to try and shoot in my local area.

Richards Mossey Infra
Richard Mossey is a photographer who shot a set of stunning pictures in the eastern Congo, a war torn part of Africa where gorilla warfare takes place throughout the country on a day to day basis. The photos from this set are taken on infrared film that transforms the usual colour spectrum by turning what would normal be lush green flora into red/pink flora.

• • • • • •

I wanted to replicate the strange change of colours The images give a sense of abnormality that I wanted to take forward into my own shots They make the viewer assess what they like better the natural or the infrared Intense colours The landscapes are beautifully composed in my eyes The land is shown as something alien

David Maisel Terminal Mirage David Maisels photos of the salt lakes in Utah carry a similar feel to them as the ones
taken by Richard Mossey as the colours somehow conflict with how you would normally see lakes. I found myself now being drawn to images that have bold colours that shouldn’t be. I want to link these images to my work by having sections of colour concentrated in specific areas. • • • • Unexpected colours in what seems a normal place Elevated view Natural framing/ areas split into sections Strong bold colours

•Focused on utilising the orange glow to create a mysterious light

•Found locations that people see everyday but take no notice of
•Tried to create layers/separation within the image with my composition •Used the sky to represent the sea in a rough turbulent storm •Tried to shooting from an elevated position •Tried to manipulate my images in terms of colour

I enjoyed taking my initial shots as they were something I had never tried before and they seemed to be turning out quite well but the more I looked at them the more I began to see that they were lacking something. I wasn’t quite sure what that something was at first so I therefore looked into breaking down the images from the photographers that I found interesting and tried to draw from their work to apply to my own. Shooting on shutter speeds upwards of 8 seconds was not entirely fun in the middle of winter but it did give me some really intense colours from the light pollution and the sky. I noticed that my pictures focused on the colour of the sky and clouds a lot which didn’t really give a true reflection of light pollution as this was best captured in complete darkness whereas I was tending to shoot as the sun was going down. As I felt I was quite far into my research and shooting It was important for me to find the direction I wanted to go to quickly. Once I took a long look at the work I was producing it dawned on me that I was making my work pictures far to easy to read in a photographic way. I felt my pictures were too literal by actually showing the lights and were the light pollution was coming from. I chose to focus on making what I wanted to be the main subject somehow indirect in the way it is seen. After a while of looking through my researched photographers images it was clear I needed to work on my framing and composition so I set about rectifying these points as I moved onto my next set of shots.

Rut bless Luxemburg
Rut Bless Luxemburg is a German photographer who is best known for her dark moody almost rusted looking photos of urban scenes at night. She uses the artificial orange glow that is emitted from street lights and lights from buildings to get a dilapidated rusty look. The images first became quite monotonous to look at as the colour orange glow seemed to overwhelm and overpower the other elements of the images. I found the composition to be well thought out for urban images. The image towering inferno that was used by The streets as the album cover for Original pirate material in 2002 really struck a cord with me as I brought the album when it first come out and It felt quite nostalgic in a way to see it again but in a different context all together. In this image light almost bleeds from the sources while simple line and simple composition make it a really hard hitting image. The main thing I drew from this image was its shear simplicity.

David Hockney The English painter and photographer David Hockney helped me to develop my project in a

positive way as I found his landscape paintings to have bright intense colours and angular lines that break up the paintings, these must have been really abnormal to see when they were first shown in the 1960s. He was a part of the pop art movement which I have researched before in a previous project so I knew that this movement promoted the use of bright bold colours which is what I wanted to carry into my own work by using infrared film, however the film I brought didn’t turn up in time. I did manage to get hold of some e6 film that requires cross processing that made strange coloured negatives. This turned out to be a avenue I eventually exhausted as I wanted my images to stay true to the colours the light pollution was actually producing. These paintings really reflect my final pieces in a subtle way and I found them to be more fruitful than most of the photos and photographers I looked at.

Ebru Erulku-Daemmerung
This set of images show familiar and famous parts of London that are normally seen in a much more normal/everyday type of way but these images have been manipulated in such a way that they make the landscapes look apocalyptic with strange coloured clouds engulfing parts of the image. The colours used are unworldly and these pictures really relate back to the great fire of London painting that I first researched however I feel less appreciative towards these images as I think they look too staged and unrealistic, however I do appreciate the work that has gone into them.

Where I looked to shoot
It was important for me to find the good balance of natural landscape and built up areas. I found myself doing the opposite to what I initially thought I was going to do as I was getting better results the further away from London I went. The red dots on the map represent places I searched for locations to shoot. I know some of the areas quite well so it made it slightly easier to find good places to shoot.

Final prints
I was very impressed with how my final prints turned out although they did take longer than I expected them to. It had been a while since I had done my induction in the darkroom so it was refreshing to get back in there. One problem i came across while producing my final prints was that any little spec of dust or any scratch on the negatives would stick out like a sore thumb on the large print as most of the image was dark, another thing I found was that the dust would make a small mark in the sky that looked like stars however the true stars had slightly moved due to the earths orbit while the dust was static so there was some difference between the two. The feedback I received when I showed people my final prints was all positive which was encouraging but one thing that people kept saying was that there seems to be an element of fire/flames to my image, which I never really saw but I think this was a valid point and down to my colour choices.

Critical appraisal
To evaluate my environment project I would say that my work turned out extremely well however I have found some areas I will need to work on when I start on my next project. I believe I worked in a efficiently and consistently throughout the project. I can see how I have progressed from my initial ideas and pictures right through to my final prints and I have even carried on thinking about how I could of improved my project even In the closing stages of it. By finding an concept I felt strongly about to mould my project around made it quite easy for me to come up with ideas for research for this project. Straight from the start I found myself coming up with great ideas however I found it hard to gather contextual research regarding light pollution as it is a relatively new problem but when I did find good information it really helped me to confirm what I wanted to achieve. My main concerns with my project were the amount of film I shot and the switch from working in my workbook to a blog. Although I shot quite frequently with my dslr I found myself reluctant to shot on film as I felt I might be wasting the film with bad shots which I now know was a mistake. Making the transfer from writing and sketching in a book to blog entries has been the hardest part of this project for me and it is a must for me to amend my blog as soon as possible in future assignment's. If I were to do this project again I would certainly try to worry less about finding photographers that have similar images to the ones I want to achieve and try to focus on the elements I actually want to bring into my shots wether it be painters, films and music. To end this evaluation I would like to think that my development from start to finish has been the main aspect I am happy with and I look forward to seeing what I can do next time.