Bruges | Picture Perfect At Night

A quiet night on the canal, lit by neon light in Bruges, Belgium.

Night photography offers the enthusiastic photographer a whole new range of possibilities. Stillness, silence, calm, fear and abandonment are just some of the emotions that can be explored. Likewise the night gives us the opportunity to test our photographic skills and explore places that crowds and traffic may not allow us to do during daylight hours.

Bruges is an important and beautifully preserved historical city that offers loads of picture perfect opportunities for the enthusiastic travel photographer. My own experience, arriving in the middle of a hot and very busy summer's day, was to leave the crowds behind and explore the backstreets, the alleyways and the paths not trod by the average group tourist.

I continued to explore the old town of Bruges during a night photography session which provided a number of fantastic opportunities to make great photos.

Do Your Photos Explore The Beauty Of Light?    

Light is an essential element in photography. In fact the word photography translates from ancient Greek as follows:

  • photo = light
  • graphy = writing, drawing or painting

That's a lovely definition, and it makes perfect sense. But, as you can see, my own definition goes further. 

Photography, at its best, explores the transient, transforming and transcendental nature of light.
— Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru

Bruges, Picture Perfect By The Light Of The Night

Night photography, particularly in city environs, allows us to explore the colors emitted from a range of potential artificial light sources. Street lights, building interiors and neon signs emit colors that produce quite eerie effects. And on overcast nights the abundance of artificial light can even light up the clouds above. 

When I travel I don’t sleep all that much. There’s just so much to see and do. And, under the right conditions, night time is when the fun really begins.

The photo at the top of this post was made late in the evening in Bruges, Belgium. I'd headed out for dinner and decided to explore some of the areas less likely to be visited by tourists. I found a great pub and enjoyed a few of the countries 300 odd beers, including a local beauty. That made the trip back to my hotel particularly joyous and I continued to explore and photograph well into the night.

Artificial lights illuminate an historic building on the canal in Bruges, Belgium.

Bruges By Night | Exploring In The Quiet Of The Night

After numerous stops along the way I finally took some time for a few last photos directly across the road from my hotel.

Because it was quite dark a 10-second exposure was required. I simply waited for the gentle breeze to stop long enough to record stillness in the leaves of the trees on either edge of the frame. Notice how the wall on the bottom left of the frame leads the eye towards the main building. The gentle movement of water in the canal adds a sense of movement within this otherwise static image.

Both images were processed in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. I rendered the second image into black and white prior to adding a sepia-like effect. I feel that adds an eerie mood and a sense of nostalgia to the image. 

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru