“City lighting is meant to light up objects in much the same way you would light a still life or a stage set. Coupled with the pink light emitted by the odd sodium vapor street lights, Easton becomes a silent city of lit stages, all in unreal color and shadow.”
For over a year Peter Ydeen has been photographing Easton, Pennsylvania at night, when he says the street lighting and how it reaches its surroundings turns Easton into a “city of stages”. He receives inspiration from the renowned photographer George Tice, who also spent much time photographing Pennsylvania locales, and especially his photos Petit’s Mobil Station and Yellow Cab, Wood Avenue. Peter has titled his series of photos “Easton Nights”.
Peter was drawn to the ethereal stillness and sterility of the nighttime town, an empty environment in repose as it waits to be re-populated with its players the next morning. As he says in his own words,
“The night has its own visual rules, its own color wheel, and its own ethereal presence. … This empty geometry, with its decades of formation, creates an unusual living lyricism. The project is both addictive and cathartic, and what started as an exercise, became an interaction with the quiet shapes and exotic lights in this sometimes forgotten city.”
We asked Peter what he’s picked up from over a year of nighttime photography in Easton, and his response covered a wide gamut. Peter has insights on the aesthetics of night photography, as well as findings on how he had to adapt digital cameras to nighttime use.
“What I learned seems to be just about everything. I think maybe the most striking aspect of night photography, is how it isolates objects with the lighting. It is very conducive to people like me who have Minimalist tendencies. I didn’t realize that until I started into it. Also the colors work differently. I think part of that is the way digital cameras process color. It isn’t accurate, especially in the very low light situations, but it can be beautiful. I often take color away which I feel the camera put in. The greens, oranges and purples are all over exaggerated in a digital shot. Lastly, and maybe most important. I realized that I am photographing an environment which we made for ourselves, and when you remove the people, it reveals a sculpture, but one which is a mirror to ourselves. I quote Marcel Duchamp in his description of an artist:
“To all appearances, the artist acts like a mediumistic being who, from the labyrinth beyond time and space, seeks his way out to a clearing.”
By isolating our environment, it seems to give a great clarity. That clarity is maybe the most addictive aspect of night photography. It is not “cool”, macabre or scary, it is incredibly beautiful.”
Enjoy a further selection of photos from Easton Nights:
Catch more of Peter’s work on his website.
Peter Ydeen is primarily a Urban Landscape photographer currently living in Easton Pennsylvania and working in New York City. He works within the now established tenet of Urban Landscape Photography which celebrates the complexity and beauty of the mundane world. As the work progresses it has been taking on a more romantic quality, which uses the typical and ordinary as an impetus, but then adapting more ethereal qualities. His work looks for inspiration in the poetics of George Tice, the playful lyricism of Paul Klee, the eccentric energy or Charles Burchfield, all trying to set themselves within the romantic setting of an E.T.A. Hoffman tale.