Night photography refers to photographs taken outdoors between dusk and dawn. Night photographers generally have a choice between using artificial light and using a long exposure, exposing the scene for seconds, minutes, and even hours in order to give the film or digital sensor enough time to capture a usable image. With the progress of high-speed films, higher-sensitivity digital image sensors, wide-aperture lenses, and the ever-greater power of urban lights, night photography is increasingly possible using available light.
In the early 1900s, a few notable photographers, Alfred Stieglitz and William Fraser, began working at night. The first photographers known to have produced large bodies of work at night were Brassai and Bill Brandt. In 1932, Brassai published Paris de Nuit, a book of black-and-white photographs of the streets of Paris at night. During World War II, British photographer Brandt took advantage of the black-out conditions to photograph the streets of London by moonlight.
Photography at night found several new practitioners in the 1970s, beginning with the black and white photographs that Richard Misrach made of desert flora (1975-77). Joel Meyerowitz made luminous large format color studies of Cape Cod at nightfall which were published in his influential book, Cape Light (1979). .Jan Staller’s twilight color photographs (1977-84) of abandoned and derelict parts of New York City captured uncanny visions of the urban landscape lit by the glare of sodium vapor street lights.