“Night photography made me look at things differently,” says photographer John Maher, who was also the drummer in legendary band Buzzcocks.
“With night photography I can revisit those same subjects and scenes I see every day and turn them into something the human eye can never record.”
“I realised that by manipulating light and exposure times I could create something no other medium could capture.
“With night photography in particular, the long moonlit exposures allow me sufficient time to selectively light the scene as I wish. The camera’s sensor accumulates light, whereas the human eye can only see an instant – it can’t record a period of time.”
John is a self-taught photographer who lives on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides – where his creativity is aided by the stunning scenery and the lack of light pollution.
“Night photographs can give a true sense of the passage of time, even though you’re looking at a still image.”
“On longer exposures you’ll see evidence of the earth’s rotation in the form of star trails.
“Cloud and water movement is blurred and smoothed. The quality of light provided by a full moon on a cloudless night is unique. You can’t simulate it by other means.”
John has always taught himself how to do things from leaving school at 16 to join the Buzzcocks, having only bought his first drum kit six weeks earlier. After the band broke up he turned a hobby into a job, building high performance race engines for air-cooled VWs – something he still does today.
“When I got into digital photography I needed to understand aperture, shutter speed, depth of field etc. etc. because long exposure night photography renders the camera’s automatic settings obsolete.”
What he learned from only using manual mode has also proved useful for other types of photography as well. John also got into shooting long exposures during daylight light hours – learning how to use neutral density filters.
“This also fits with my goal of creating an image the human eye can’t experience, all without resorting to Photoshop. Same as shooting at night, the effect must be created in-camera while the shutter is open, not after the fact in a computer programme,” he says.
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