LONDON We would see stars mirroring in the Thames and reflecting on skyscrapers. “A clear summers’ evening. London, UK. As darkness falls, the light of the Sun is replaced by the glow of the city. But if the lights were to be switched off… the invisible would become visible.” With this incipit, Nicholas Buer starts his beautiful timelapse video titled “Blackout City”. Watch it and read the short presentation. And then… regarde le ciel!
Nicholas Buer: In a metropolis like London light pollution makes the night sky invisible. Only a few of the brightest stars and asterisms force their celestial light through the man made glow of the city. The night sky, one of the most beautiful of natural wonders is extinguished from view. Blackout City is an experimental timelapse film that makes the invisible, visible. It attempts to show what the night sky would look like If there were ever to be a total blackout in the South East of England on a clear, moonless, summers night.
I started shooting this project back in August 2013 and have been slowly gathering footage when conditions were right. Although each shot in this film is a composite, all footage is real. The city shots were captured during the day and processed to look like night and the night sky shots were captured from dark locations around the South of England to ensure that the stars are astronomically correct for the latitude of London. I have also processed the astro shots to be more sympathetic to what the naked eye would see in terms of saturation and detail. The internet is saturated with well-processed images of the Milky Way that show phenomenal colour that are the result of fantastic low light DSLR technology. Don’t get me wrong I love these images, I am one of the people who endeavours to create them! But in reality the Milky Way does not look like this; so in order to make this film more believable I have chosen to process the shots this way.
I first got the idea for the film when I read an article about a blackout in LA in 1994 where people called 911 reporting these strange clouds floating in the sky, those clouds where in fact the Milky Way. It made me think about how the lights from cities have made many of us lose our connection to the night sky. We live in a fast paced man-made world whereby it is all too easy for us to become disconnected from the natural world around us, isolated from what is actually real. There are many other aspects of the human condition that this film could touch upon which could make its’ intentions appear somewhat complicated, but is essence the film’s agenda could not be more simple; to inspire people to get away from the city lights, go somewhere quiet on a star-filled night and simply look up.
This project is purely non-profit but I would love the opportunity take the Blackout City idea to different metropolises across the globe as each city with it’s specific latitude will reveal a different sky. If anyone thinks they can help to make this happen please connect with me through the links below:
To see more of my work please visit: nicholasbuer.com
For direct enquires please mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Main track is by The American Dollar ‘As We Float’ (Ambient)
Licensed at: theamericandollar.info/licensing
For motion control I used the Stage One Dolly System by Dynamic Perception
© Nicholas Buer 2014