Country Railway Crossing: Nikon D610 28mm @ F9 1/320 second exposure ISO 100
Ok it's a scene we see just about every day living in Country Victoria, nothing particularly special you might say.
When searching for locations for nightscape images, the most difficult thing is to pre-visualize what a particular scene will look at night under the stars.
Compare the image above to the lower image of exactly the same railway crossing at night.
Milky Way Railway Crossing: Nikon D610 14mm @ F2.8 20 second exposure ISO 2500
It just goes to show that with a little planning just about any scene can be transformed into a beautiful nightscape. The trick is to be able to see it in your mind before you can actually see it.
Many people ask me how I find these lovely spots to shoot at night .... my response is simply that I am of the opinion that pretty much any scene can be made to look great at night. Photography is all about light. Tone and shadow, subtle reflections and texture.
The first image is exposed ok but doesn't particularly stand out ... it's a snapshot really. The second image however has so much more depth and character ... this is the great thing about night photography. The night image takes us to a place of mystery and intrigue, the average has the potential to be spectacular.
So why don't we all get out and take "spectacular" night photos .... ???
There are many reasons people don't shoot at night often but I would say the main reason is that we can't pre-visualize the shot .... it's just too dark to see anything clearly after dark. In fact most of us drive straight past many potentially awesome subjects all the time in the everyday journey of life. During the day, it's just another railway crossing, or another tree or another whatever ....
The facts of the matter are that it's a whole lot more difficult to shoot at night ... so we don't. But the rewards are there for those who are willing to push the boundaries and see something ordinary in a different light.
Here are a few more examples to illustrate what I am saying.
Malmsbury Railway Bridge: Before and after.
Maldon Dredge: Before and after
Country Road: Before and after
You will notice that all of the night images are uniquely lit which adds to the mystery of the photograph. Light painting is a complete subject in itself and I will get around to that sometime, but for now I'd like to leave you with the thought that from a photographic perspective, everything, given the right conditions can be a fine subject for a nightscape image.
All it requires is a little pre-visualization ... and perhaps a dash of good old fashioned imagination.
My intent is to inspire you to look up and see the beauty of the night sky.