Reactor

Nightscapes of Light

by An Xiao on July 6, 2012

Light-trail photographs by Joel James Devlin (all images courtesy the artist, via Colossal)

LOS ANGELES — One of the advantages a city has over nature is the presence of light. Sure, natural skyscapes feature booming, amazing light in countless constellations, but the landscape is dark and empty. The presence of light suggests the presence of a small segment of humanity.

Colossal turned me on the work of Joel James Devlin, a London-based photographer who creates light-trail photographs of gorgeous natural landscapes, adding a touch of light that slithers along rivers, lakes, the sky. The effect is haunting, a small echo of the rivers of highways one sees in urban nightscapes, but slower and more peaceful.

“The idea came one summer during many surf trips to the coast,” Devlin wrote to Hyperallergic. “I was given an emergency LED, which stated it could be fully submersed in water. Initially I tried recording the light source tumbling in the surf after dark, but the results were extremely unpredictable and lacked any aesthetic value.”

Devlin began researching weather reports for night fishermen to determine the right atmospheric conditions for the light. After traveling the country, he found his technique. “I soon discovered that by allowing the elements to control the light source,” he said, “it seemed the environment would be able to illustrate itself by painting itself with light.”

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