Artificial Night Lighting and Photosynthetic Organisms (2008)

Artificial Night Lighting and Photosynthetic Organisms

 

The photographs in this series were on display at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA from December 7-11, 2008.

Urban outdoor lighting produces enough spectral pollution to turn the city’s night sky into an orange-grey dome, smudging out all but the brightest stars. Of the myriad organisms affected by humanity’s colonization of the darkness by way of electromagnetic radiation, plants are of particular interest. Plant life cycles revolve according to their light environment: Photoreceptors tell them when to extend stems or broaden leaves; when to germinate and when to die.

These images are an examination of photosynthetic organisms as painted with the palette of artificial night lighting. The viewer’s attention is drawn away from the horizon — where the natural light has disappeared — to emphasize the industrial lighting on the organic textures. Tree limbs are framed against the night sky, nebulous clouds of leaves reflecting the glare of sodium vapor security lamps; groundcover is shot from directly above, micro-landscapes rendered in the orange halide tones of residential streetlights.

All of these images were made after civil twilight — when the sun is six degrees below the horizon — using available light with exposures from 20 to 696 seconds.