Bruges, Where Light Transforms and Transcends

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

The night 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.

Photography Is Light Writing    

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

Night photography, particularly in city environs, allows us to explore the colors emitted from a range of 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 above photo 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. I continued to photograph along the way back to my hotel.

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

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 on 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.

The image was processed in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. I rendered the image into black and white prior to adding a sepia-like effect for mood and a sense of nostalgia. 

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru