Photo: Courtesy of Eric Staller
In the 1970s, photographer Eric Staller embarked on a unique project, snapping photos of New York City at night, illuminated by sparklers and using a super-long exposure.Click here to jump right to the photos >>
The resulting images capture ordinary urban street scenes enhanced by streaks of light.
Staller explained the process of creating his “light drawings” in an email:
New York City at night was an enchanting place for me. The plazas, bridges, parks and monuments, empty and eerily quiet at night, were dramatic stage sets waiting to be transformed. Transformed by my magic wand: the 4th of July sparkler. Late at night I drove around in a beat-up station wagon, looking for places and ideas to jump out at me. When the moment was right I set up my Nikon on a tripod and planned a choreography with light.
Each sparkler lasted about a minute, so that was the amount of time I had to make the drawing. I would lock the camera shutter open, light the sparkler and quickly walk down the street, holding the sparkler at curb level, to complete the composition before the sparkler went out. I felt a strong sense of exhilaration, like running the 100-meter dash with a flaming torch! Getting the film back from the lab was even more exhilarating: it was magic, my presence was invisible! There was just this trail of liquid fire.
He’s shared some of the images with us. 35 years later, they’re still surreal.
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