Given my dislike for large pockets of civilization, the amount of times I’ve visited the city of Angels within the last six months is surprising. Ok, ok – admittedly that’s not entirely true. Being born within the city limits, does give Los Angeles a special place in my heart.During the summer Solstice, I climbed up to Griffith Observatory. The sun was diving beyond the hills. The amount of selfies taken against the railing was rapidly diminishing. Those still there reset their cameras with a slight tint of panic. There was no longer enough light to capture the Hollywood sign. For me, that was fine.
I was there to see the lights that spreed across like stars on a desert sky.
The city of LA does not disappoint.
–And About Photography–
Taking landscape shots at night differs from taking portraits. With portraits, generally the photographer sets up flash for the desired effect. These brighten the subject, objects in the background and so on.
With landscape photography, the photographer is limited on what they can light up. Sure, if it’s astrophotography; pictures of the stars, sometimes the photographer can light tents, trees, cacti, etc. with flashlights.
Cityscapes, on the other hand, are often too bright for anything else to be illuminated. Human silhouettes look nice in the foreground but an opposite approch might clash if done incorrectly.
Most of the light entering the lens comes from the cityscape it’self. Even from taking pictures in seemingly barren places, cities do have a tendency to glow way beyond what a human eye can spot.
I was content with the images from Griffith Observatory until they were displayed on a larger screen. With the artificial light came the absence of stars. Ironic since the image was taken at a place where astronomers historicly gathered to look at celestial bodies.
Sadly light pollution is a real thing. According to Wikipedia, it is described as ‘degradation of photic habitat by artificial light’. It’s a byproduct of urban civilization. For example, if spending the night in a populated area, a midnight stroll on a cloudy night might result in the frightful discovery of orange clouds as the city reflects on to them.
Since I grew up in the countryside, I was surprised to find that most Americans have only seen a couple hundred stars throughout their lives, if at all. According to an amusing tale, during 90’s blackout in Los Angeles, people called the police in regards to strange clouds in the sky. Apparently they had never seen the Milky Way before. Guess the unknown is always a bit scary.
At first, I didn’t think that there were any other negative effects to light pollution other than annoyance. After some research, I found that it affects certain animals which rely on natural light as an indicator. These range from endangered sea turtles looking for breeding grounds to the common moth which is attracted to dangerously hot light bulbs :p Even plants get confused about photosynthesis.
One can combat light pollution by enclosing indoor lights with curtains, using motion sensors for outdoor lights, pointing lights down and lowering their wattage. If entire cities did this, it would make a big difference.
Anyways, I decided to create a composite image to visualize the concept of light pollution.