Research notes – Robert Brook’s “Less Light”

Robert Brook is a British photographer. In his series “Less Light”, which can be seen in here, Mr. Brook presents a series of subjects illuminated by various artificial light sources. The series is classified by subject or theme (for example, you have “pathways” and “walls and fences”). The photographs share similar aesthetics: they are devoid of persons or animals, usually shot straight on and, contrary to what the tile of the series would have implied, well illuminated.

I found the series mostly enjoyable. Some of the photographs include a number of street lights that come together to create interesting patterns, compounded by the stars of light and the flares coming from the top of each lamppost (eg see here). I like the simplicity and the calming order of these shoots. In others, the source of the artificial light is not directly present, but its different temperature help transform the landscape by shifting its colour in a way that would not be possible during daylight, as in his picture of the entrance to the industrial area in the “en route” theme, or his riverside theme pictures, like this one.

The series, nonetheless, had a number of pictures that had, perhaps, too much light for what I would normally expect to see in a night shoot; and were either veering towards HDR (like this one) or included some additional lighting aid introduced by the photographer (like this one, where the perfectly illuminated forefront is in an area where I would not expect to see any artificial light sources). It is not possible to know, of course, how these effects were achieved, and the photographer does not seem to reveal it on its website, but it does instill in me both a sense of doubt about the veracity of what I am seeing, as well as an urge to try to see if this effect could be somehow replicated in real life without using extra illumination from the photographer.

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