Tokyo Special 1/10 – Tokyo Nights by Jon Siegel

Exactly one year ago I had just checked into my hotel in Tokyo along with my mum. The 10 days trip was a life changing one and I think about the city I love daily. For every day I was in Tokyo I will bring you a different photo series of the city, each photographer show casing their own view of an element unique to the city.

Seeing as we arrived as nightfall it’s only fair to start with the time in which Tokyo is at it’s best, night time.

This is part 1 – Tokyo Nights by Jon Siegel

I love the tones and colours used in this series, although we know it’s dark the city is still vibrant and energetic in its colours. The salary man having his dinner, the youth dressed to go out and the taxi man working on the roads of this eccentric city, Jon Siegel captures Tokyo from a non-alien view. Check out the full series here which comprises of over 170 photographs.

Phantastic420 on Instagram

Phantastic420 is an Instagramer based in Shizuoka Pref, Japan. With images focused on Japanese scenery around the Mount Fuji area. A lot of the shots are taken at night and I am particularly interested in the reent uploads of the Sakura in Japan which I will be around soon. I love the lighting and colours in the images, it’s making me second guess my time of shooting. In Coventry the images were coming out too dark even at twilight but i think there are so many City lights in Tokyo I might be better off shooting at night and choosing well lit areas. This is something I will have to experiment with on my digital camera whilst i’m there.

You can see Phantastic420’s instagram feed here.

All images ©Phantastic420

One taken at nightღ
27.Mar.2013 20:04:20
N35°14′15.600 E138°52′37.799
One taken at nightღ
24.Mar.2013 20:54:20
N35°07′19.799 E138°55′08.400
One taken at nightღ 24.Mar.2013 20:44:20 N35°07′19.799 E138°55′08.400
One taken at nightღ 24.Mar.2013 20:34:20 N35°07′19.799 E138°55′08.400
One taken at midnightღ 24.Mar.2013 00:04:20 N35°07′19.799 E138°55′08.400


One taken at midnightღ 24.Mar.2013 00:04:20 N35°07′19.799 E138°55′08.400
One taken at midnightღ 24.Mar.2013 01:42:00 N35°07′10.800 E138°49′33.599
One taken at midnightღ 23.Mar.2013 23:04:20 N35°11′84.025 E138°91′85.126


iPhone twilight

I have been using a light meter app on my iPhone to take readings for the film camera. It has really helped, one thing it has taught me today is at twilight to make the primary light level 5, that means you won’t get any over bright lights and the rest will fall into place. I also shot a lot of these images on my film camera, so once I print them tomorrow it would be interesting to see if the light meter on my phone is accurate. I really hope so as it is so handy to see the exposure as a basic starter. The iPhone wouldn’t be anything but a way of measuring light for this project as iPhones cannot pick up details within light at all.

Shooting at twilight

I am really taken with surreal nature of photos shot during twilight. It’s a visual component I am starting to explore for my final project in order to convey a hyper/surreal reality. In the library I found 2 books which explore the use of twilight light also mixed with city lights. In the same way Adam Hinton’s book ‘Lovin’ it’ does.

Peter Bialobrzeski – ‘Neontigers: Photographs of Asian Megacities’

image (4)


Neontigers is a series of photographs made by Peter Bialobrzeski about giant megacities in Asia. The book opens by talking about how an architect living in Hong Kong was shocked by the Wests reviews of Blade Runner in the 80’s. They said it was a dark predication of the future, megacities lined with poverty. But the architect saw the Blade Runner world as the place he and most other people in East Asian cities lived in. The photographs in this book take a moment to stop and look at these megacities, showing the beauty and architecture whilst showing the poverty too. The images are shot at night and in twilight in order to create a surreal atmosphere and portray this futuristic ideal but maintaining reality.

“If  you look out over Hong Kong in the evening from The Peak tower, it becomes the Milky Way.” – Florian Haning

Martin Barnes and Kate Best – ‘Twilight: Photography in the magic hour’

image (5)

This book, in it’s own words,”focuses on several bodies of contemporary art photography that were made at, or evoke, the fleeting moment of the world at dusk.” It explores how “The hour of twilight also evokes haunting moods and provides scope for narrative intrigue and psychological depth.”. Displaying the work of various art photographers who use the twilight hour to enhance the story in their work and play with light, this book is the bible of twilight photography.

©Philip Lorca Dicorcia
©Robert Adams
©Liang Yue
©Boris Mikhailov

Perhaps this book is not as relevant as I first thought it was, but I do want to explore Liang Yue’s work more.

Starry Starry Night

Last Night was the night my sister was flying to Australia to live. It also happened to be a very starry night, I took the opportunity to capture the sky from my house, knowing that somewhere up there my sister was flying to her new life.

9/8/2012 – Cara flys to Australia – 30 seconds exposure – ©Daisy Ware-Jarrett
9/8/2012 – Cara flys to Australia – 1 min exposure – ©Daisy Ware-Jarrett


Why the Night?

Night Scenes have been depicted for hundreds of years, before photography there seemed to be this fascination with the mystery of the night, mainly coming from dark biblical influences artists like Albrecht Durer used the mythical creatures and scenes to evoke fear. But as this idea developed and painting became more high brow a few Artists recognised the beauty and softness of the moon light, and used it in their work.

Albrecht Drurer

 It’s no surprise that just a few years after the cameras invention photographers ventured into the darkness and explored the night in the same way artists did. John Adams Whipple used the early photographic technique of daguerrotype to document the moon, this image is a personal favourite’s.

John Adams Whipple
John Adams Whipple


David Baldwin

what stuck me as different in David Baldwins work compared to other night photographers I have looked at is that he uses such levels of exposure that if you didn’t look carefully at the images you would not be able to tell they were taken at night. You can tell there is something erie about them and then you realise, these were taken at night.

Night Photography video

I found this video on YouTube and found it very informative and interesting, about why photographers shoot at night and how they do it, well worth watching all 3 parts

Part 1 ->

Part 2 ->

Part 3 ->

What strikes me as interesting is how the majority of night photographers had some sort of love or admiration for the darkness already, and as someone who fears the dark, and what lays in it, i think about how i could use this in my work. I think it appeals to me as someone who loves painting because it has the same control and aesthetics, a physical painting movement.

8. Night Photography / Painting with light

Troy Pavia’s images are not photoshopped or manipulated, believe it or not. He achieves this lighting by taking the images in low/no light conditions. All his lighting is hand held on location. All his exterior night photography is done within 4 days of the full moon because the moon is his biggest light source. There is a very detailed explanation of his work here on his website, form film to digital and light sources.