Monday, July 31, 2006

Canvas Gallery: John Vias

In October, a number of Nocturnes will participate in San Francisco Open Studios and display their work at the Fort Mason Center. This month, the Canvas Gallery in San Francisco will host a preview exhibition for this year's SF Open Studios. Night photographer John Vias will be one of the eight artists who was chosen for this show!

(photo: John Vias)

The show runs through August 20th. Unfortunately, due to a screwup on my part, I'm posting this after the reception. But you can still stop by and see the show. Canvas is located at 1200 - 9th Ave (at Lincoln), San Francisco, across the street from Golden Gate Park in the Sunset District.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

"Summer Nights" Content

Tim Baskerville has posted an on-line gallery of the photographs that are included in the "Summer Nights" show at the Blue Plum Gallery (41 Arkansas St, San Francisco) through the month of August.

(photo: Mark Jaremko)

Obviuosly, the real prints look much better than the thumbnails. So, plan on coming to the reception/party on August 19th at 7pm.

Friday, July 28, 2006

"Summer Nights" at the Blue Plum Gallery

Seven photographers will be displaying night photographs at the Blue Plum Gallery (41 Arkansas St) in San Francisco from July 28 through the end of August. The show will include work by Marc Babsin, Tim Baskerville, Andy Frazer, Susanne Friedrich, Mark Interrante, Mark Jaremko and Michael Koerner.

(photo: Andy Frazer)

I dropped off my photographs this morning, and I was very impressed with the location: high ceilings, long walls and lots of floorspace. Unfortunately, I was one of the first people to drop off work and I had to rush back to my day gig, so I didn't have a chance to see what the other artists will be exhibiting.

The reception party will be Saturday night, August 19th at 7pm.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Susanne Friedrich

I've been shooting at night with Susanne Friedrich for about four years. I first met her on an overnight trip to Angel Island, sponsored by the Nocturnes. While most of the photographers were showing off their Hassleblad's and high-end 35mm cameras, Susanne was carrying around a pair of $20 Holgas (medium format "toy" cameras) wrapped up with electrical tape. Looking through a Holga lens is a bit like looking through the bottom of a glass Coke bottle. Their manufacturing defects are their charm.

(photo: Susanne Friedrich)

Although Susanne uses a Hasselblad for her professional work, she often uses the Holgas to create some beautiful night photographs with a pictorialist.

(photo: Susanne Friedrich)

Susanne is a professional portrait photographer and web designer. She has designed websites for many night photographers, including the Nocturnes and Lance Keimig's TheNightSkye.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

How To Light Paint

Troy Paiva first got me interested in night light painting seven years ago. One of the most prolific light painters who credit Troy as an influence is Larrie Thomson of Canada. Today, I came across the following magazine article by Seam McCormick, who credits Larrie Thomson not only for his inspiration, but for actually taking him along on a night shooting trip and showing him how to do it (he also thanks Troy in the article for creating this niche artform).

(photo: Sean McCormick)

If you've never tried light painting at night, this article will be especially helpful because Sean explains exactly how many flashes he fired at each point in the subject (note: the article describes how he photographed an old truck and an old building, not the bridge ab0ve).

How to Be Creative

A few months ago I read an interesting article in Lenswork Magazine. The article was titled "How to Be Creative". It was written by work-at-home marketing/PR guywho is using his blog, The Gaping Void, to promote a small South African winery called Stormhoek.

(copyright Hugh MacLeod)

Aside from his interesting ideas about creativity, and how to reconcile your art with your "day gig", I found his whole blog and some of his marketing ideas to be fascinating. In fact, his ideas were the main reason that I began this blog. One of his beliefs is to give information away on a regular basis in order to build trust from your audience. That's why the creativity article is on-line, in its entirety.

(copyright Hugh MacLeod)

I would recomend any artist (even the most elite of artists: the night photographers) to read this article, and take some time to browse through Hugh's blog (and, just maybe, try his client's wine).

Monday, July 24, 2006

GS Night Photography Blog Traffic Jumps 11X!

Last Saturday, the Gorillasites Night Photography Blog was included in one of the most prestigious photography sites in the blogosphere: Mike Johnston's excellent The Online Photographer. This is a great honor, because Mike is very well-regarded among photography collectors, printers and both film and digital shooters. In the past he was the editor-in-chief of the magazine Photo Techniques, and for years he edited the Sunday Morning Photographer column on the Luminous Landscape website.

"One of Brassai's great strengths was as a photographer of the night, both figuratively and literally. Which seems as good a way as any to seque to Andy Frazer's night photography blog. Andy describes it as a niche within a niche, but it's a rich subject, as many photographers (Michael Kenna is one who comes to mind) have learned. If the subject appeals to you, don't miss The Nocturnes Gallery either." - Mike Johnston

Along with his vast experience in photography, and a sharp wit with the written word, he also has impecable taste in tripods (a very amusing a link, that I don't seem to be able to find, right now). Mike is to be one of the few photographers who appreciate the value of the Slik AF210 (now, AF2100) pistol-grip head.

Over the past weekend, Mike's link has increased my web traffic by 11X! Thanks, Mike!

39MP Noise Free Night Exposures

For night photographers who have migrated from film to digital, the Canon CMOS sensors seem to produce much less noise during long exposures than the CCD sensors sold by Nikon and other non-Canon manufacturers. I've seen many examples of this phenomenon among 35mm nocturnal types. However, I've never met a night photographer, yet, who shoots with a medium-format digital back. There are two reasons for this. First, is the astronomical cost of medium format digital backs (typically, $10,000 - $30,000 each). Second, most medium format digital backs use CCD sensors are might not perform well for long exposures at night.

For the past few years, Michael Reichmann has been publishing hands-on (and, often, winter gloves-on) reviews of the latest medium format digital cameras. In his most recent review, he looks at the 39MP Leaf Aptus back, which sounds like the best commercially-available, medium format digital back available (today). One of the most interesting things that he found with this back is it's ability to take very clean, very long exposures at night, even though it has a CCD sensor. He has included a ten-minute night landscape that appears to be completely noise-free.

(photo: Michael Reichmann)

Now, only one reason remains for me not to migrate to a medium format digital back for night photography :-)

Thanks to Joe Reifer for pointing out this article.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Interview with Steve Harper

Last year I finished the first revision on a short documentary film on night photography. The Night of the Living Photographers included spotlight segments on five nocturnal-types: Troy Paiva, Lance Keimig, Larrie Thompson, Howie Spielman and Tom Paiva.

Two weeks ago, Tim Baskerville arranged for me to meet once again with Steve Harper and interview him for the next version of the film. Steve Harper is now retired from teaching and, unfortunately, retired from photography for health reasons. So it was an honor to have the opportunity to meet with him again.

(Left to right: myself, Tim Baskerville, Steve Harper)

We recorded almost two hours of great material (which I'll be slogging through for at least a month) sitting on beautiful plantation-style furniture on the front deck of the former commander's house at Mare Island.

Steve was probably the only college-level teacher of night photography back in the 1970's and 80's when half of the battle involved figuring out which films and developers could handle the long exposures required for night photography. Not only was Steve a good friend of night photography master Michael Kenna, but I learned that in his younger days Steve worked in New York with Diane Arbus and Richard Avedon. For you digital youngin's who have never stuck your fingers in a bath of developer, it was great to hear Steve's excitement about how the digital revolution is making it so much easier for photographers to get acquainted with night photography.

It will be a few months before I'm ready to release the next version of the film which will include Steve's material. You'll hear about it first, here on the GSNP Blog.

Friday, July 21, 2006

China Camp

A few days ago I mentioned the latest Nocturnes on-line photography contest. Although I missed the deadline for this contest, I've participated in many of the Nocturnes contests in the past. They're a great way to get your work judged up against many other night photographers, and to get your work "out there" and be seen by more people.

(photo: Andy Frazer)

Above is a photograph that I took at China Camp State Park back in 2002. This was the first time that I shot with a digital camera at night. It was also my first photograph that placed in one of the Nocturnes competitions.

Back then, DSLR's were a novelty, especially at night. But on a Nocturnes workshop as long as two years ago, it seemed that more than half of the photographers were shooting digital. It will be interesting to see how many photographers are shooting digital at the Mono Lake Workshop next month.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Nocturnes Biennial Contest

Tim Baskerville of The Nocturnes just released the names of the winners in the Nocturnes 2006 Biennial on-line night photography contest, which was judged by Lance Keimig.

The winner this time was Tom Morrow, of San Carlos, CA.

(photo: Tom Morrow)

As usual, there were a lot of great entries from other photographers. If you've got the time, I really suggest that you browse through all of the entries from the past contests, too. It's a great way to sample a lot of different night photographers, including many who... gasp!... don't even have a website.

If you missed this contest, you can get in on the next one. Just visit the Nocturnes website and email either Tim or Susan to get on their e-mail list. They'll keep you informed of future contests which are, typically, twice per year.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


The 6th International Photographic Art Exposition (aka, PhotoSF) will be July 21-23 at the Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason, CA. This is basically an excuse for some of the biggest photo gallerists to set up booths and show and sell their collections. I have attended each of the past three years and, although it's not dedicated to night photography, I have really enjoyed the show.

In fact, I've had more fun at PhotoSF than any photography museum show I can think of. PhotoSF is not one of those Art & Wine Festivals where any photographer with a few hundred bucks can sell prints of Big Sur, Yosemite and the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead, it's both mid-end and high-end galleries with boxes of prints of all of the "Masters", as well as up-and-coming photographers. Also, many well-known photographers are also in attendance promoting their latest books. In past years, I've met Michael Kenna, Todd Hido, Kim Weston, Bill Schwab, Brian Kelly, and a few others (whose names I can't remember).

Remember: it's better than any Art & Wine Festival, and there are more photographers represented than in any museum.

(I can't remember the photographer's name)

At PhotoSF 2003, Mike Quinn (second from the left) and your humble host (far right) stopped by the booth of the Photography Room and met with well-known night photographers Brian Kelly (far left) and Bill Schwab (second from the right). Mike is holding Brian's book, and I'm holding Bill's book. It's confusing, I know, but we were all hamming it up. Brian is the author/photographer of "Grand Rapids: Night After Night", and Bill is the author/photographer of "Gathering Calm".

Mike Quinn, by the way, is wonderful night photographer. But he doesn't have a website, so I can't give you a link to his great work.

Last year, I got so jazzed up after attending PhotoSF, that I went down the road and had one of the most productive shooting nights of the year. The following photograph was taken that night near Crissy Field, in San Francisco:

(photo: Andy Frazer)

I plan to be at PhotoSF next Saturday, July 22. If you're planning on attending on the 22nd, let me know and we can meet up (andyfrazer [at] gorillasites [dot] com).

Saturday, July 15, 2006

More From the "Hill Community" Show at Farley's

Although I have one night photograph in the "Hill Community" show at Farley's Coffee Shop in San Francisco, most of the other photographs in the show are daytime photos. But there are some other night photographers. One night photographer, whom I had never met before this show, is Jamie Jones.

(photo: Jamie Jones)

Jamie lives in San Francisco and is obviously more familiar than I am with the gritty neighborhoods around Potrero Hill. This worked to her advantage. While I was shooting quiet, peaceful residential neighborhoods for the show, Jamie was shooting grimy industrial sites and creepy neighborhoods: perfect subjects for night photography!

Since we both shot at night and in black-and-white, you can see our photographs displayed right next to each other on the wall to the left of the front door at Farley's :-)

You can contact Jamie at sfbikerchick [at]

Friday, July 14, 2006

Jerry Day

There seem to be two types of photographers who venture out at night: astro-photographers and traditional night photographers. Jerry Day is one of the few people who do both. He recently updated his colorful night photography website Darksky Dreams.

(photo: Jerry Day)

An admitted follower of Troy Paiva's gel-lighting technique, Jerry lives in southern California and shoots the ghost towns and desert regions of the Southwest United States. He seems to have a particular fondness for shooting natural arches and bridges at night.

If you like Jerry's work of these natural SW features, you might also enjoy Lance Keimig's black-and-white work of Mono Lake, and William Lesch's amazing color work of Arizona and New Mexico.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

"Hill Community" af Farley's Cafe'

Last Saturday I attended the reception for the Potrero Hill "Hill Community" exhibit at Farley's Cafe' in San Francisco. Although the show includes both day and night photography, it was organized by fellow Nocturnes Greta and Manu Schnetzler, both residents of Potrero Hill and regulars at the Nocturnes Open Studios each October up in San Francisco.

(photo: Andy Frazer)

My photograph above, Doorway, was selected for inclusion in the show. To the best of my memory, there were three other night photographers represented.

Farley's Cafe is located on 1315 18th St in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Abandoned After Dark Show

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the "Abandoned After Dark" night photography show.

(photo: Scott Beale)

The reception was held at the most-awesome vintage pinball arcade called Lucky Ju Ju's in Alameda, CA (not at the hair solon mentioned in the above sign). The photo above was taken by Scott Beale, of the Laughing Squid blog. Pictured left to right are the photographers featured in the show: Joe Reifer, Lane Hartwell, Steve Walsh and Riki Feldman.

I also ran into a few other Bay Area night photographers: Troy Paiva and Deb Rourke, who were too busy socializing they couldn't sit still for a photograph.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Nuclear Night Lighting

Here's an opportunity for night photography that none of us will, hopefully, ever have the opportunity to shoot.

(photographer unkown)

Between 1951-1995, several above-ground atomic tests at the Nevada Proving Grounds lit up the night sky in Los Angeles. The LA Public Library has six of these photographs on file (the photographs and more story are available here, on BoingBoing).

And to think, we complain about the orange glow in the sky from sodium vapor lights. This photographer had lots more to be worried about, although he probably didn't even know it at the time.

(photographer unkown)

This photo-op ranks right up there with Bill Brandt's night photographs of bombed-out London during the mandatory black-outs during WWII. He had plenty to worry about, at the time, too.

I found this story on BoingBoing.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Mono Lake Workshop Reminder

This is a reminder that there's only one month left before the beginning of the Mono Lake Workshops, hosted by night photographers Lance Keimig, Tim Baskerville and Tom Paiva.

(photo: Lance Keimig)

The workshops will run for four days (August 4-7) around Lee Vining, CA. Night photography locations will include Mono Lake (only a few miles from Lee Vining), Olmstead Point (in Yosemite National Park), Bodie ghost town, and a burned-out forest of Jeffrey Pines that nobody seems to know the name of.

(photo: Lance Keimig)

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Steve Walsh

Although Steve Walsh and I have quite a few night photography friends in common, I first had the opportunity to go shooting with him only earlier this year up at Skaggs Island in southern Napa County. A few months earlier, Steve had gone shooting with our common friends, and he came back with the following photograph, which absolutely blew me away:

(photo: Steve Walsh)

There are many things I love about this shot: the abandoned building, the weeds, the broken sign, the control of hand-held lighting, and a definite night-type sky. And it's all in one shot!

(photo: Steve Walsh)

While most night photographers prefer to work with either existing artificial light, or use gel-colored hand-held flash equipment, Steve is one of the few nocturne-types who often uses a hand-held flashlight (not a flash... but a flashlight) to carefully illuminate the subject. Steve says he has always been drawn to abandoned and industrial spaces, a characteristic he trace 's back to his New Jersey upbringing, where he was frequently mesmerized by distant factories viewed from the highway. Like many of us, he has found that night photography has become a convenient means of accessing these kinds of locations, since entry is often easier in the dark, and it has also allowed him to control lighting in ways that are just not possible in daylight.

If you've ever considered getting involved in night photography, there's two great reasons, right there! And if you want to browse some great photographs, check out Steve's collection on Flickr.