Past Meetup

Lecture: The history of Night photography- from daguerrotype to digital

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This is a lecture by Lance Keimig on the history of night photography. Very interesting and intriguing insights into what we have been doing all along. Understanding where it comes from and how it was discovered teaches us why we may be drawn to it and where we might take it.

This is a Friday evening, please be on-time and allow for enough time for traffic and finding parking. Parking near the main MIT entrance is sparse on the streets, but there is a small parking lot that often has empty spaces at night: 139 Mass Ave Visitor Lot, look for the Bank of America ATM. Parking garages are on Vassar street to west of Mass Ave.

Nocturne: Aqueduct of Izcuchaca,” Arequipa, Peru, Carlos and Miguel Vargas, ca. 1920

From Lance's lectures:

The night has always been associated with romance, mystery, fear, and the unknown. The nocturne has also been a natural subject for art. Albrecht Durer printed gruesome night scenes in the early sixteenth century. Rembrandt exploited night and darkness in his paintings to increase their emotional impact. During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Goya, DeGericault, and Delacroix painted both horrific and romantic night scenes. Following in this tradition, photographers ventured into the night with their cameras within a few years of the discovery of photography.

The history of night photography is almost as long as the history of the medium itself. Only ten years after the introduction of the daguerreotype in 1839, John Adams Whipple daguerrotyped the moon through a telescope. In 1863, Whipple used electric lights to take night photographs of Boston Common [consider that the origin of the Greater Boston Night Photogs!! :-)]. However, it was not until the 1880's and the invention of the gelatin dry plate negative that night photography became a real possibility. However, aside from occasional experimentation, no single photographer made any kind of serious commitment to night photography until the early 1930s...

The topic is partly covered in Lance's book "Night Photography and Light Painting: Finding Your Way in the Dark", but the lecture will cover the topic in much more depth and with many more examples. Lance will have signed copies of the book available at the lecture.