We asked Instagrammer Brian Koch, a NY-based chief engineer with a passion for photography, to chat to us about how important both artificial and natural light is in his photography and his observations of how urban lighting is changing.
Light. It is a photographer’s best friend. It can be soft and diffused. It can be hard and dramatic. Warm and cool in abundance or absent. For night time urban landscape photography I usually get my best shots during blue hour, just after sunset. Dark enough for the building lights to become prominent, while there is still a little light left in the sky. The combination of artificial and natural light is honestly magical.
Week nights are best because more businesses are in operation, and the more businesses are in operation the more lights that are on, so the better the city looks. One of the beautiful things about lighting is the contrast of different colors and intensity. Metal halide lighting is blue. High pressure sodium is yellow. Fluorescent and LED lighting are in between. In addition there is also colored accent lighting. The world completely depends on light and so does much of my photography.
Have I seen a rise in LEDs? Definitely. There are more and more LED electronic billboards and decorative lighting. I see that more and more buildings are switching to LED interior lighting, but from the heights that I photograph they seem a bit indistinguishable from traditional lighting. Does it make a difference in my photography? In some ways, yes; sometimes intensity isn’t ideal for photography as it is too high and can overexpose in the image. But, overall the added color can be great. What I am able to see from the top of these buildings is what people might not realize on a daily basis – the amount of artificial light that lights up major world cities is overwhelming and progressively growing. As I continue to shoot I’m seeing more and more lighting pop into my camera’s view, which is creating the type of diversity I’m looking for in my images. When you see big city lights from this perspective it is easy to see why it’s so important to make efficient and reliable lighting products. My own building is replacing 98 high pressure sodium accent lights with linear LED fixtures. I’ll be intrigued to see the difference from behind my lens.
Brian Koch – Chief Engineer in Manhattan, NYC. I have been an IUOE Local 94 operating engineer for 25 years in New York City. My position and connections that I have made throughout my career have given me unique opportunities to take pictures from restricted areas. I began taking photos with DSLR two years ago and haven’t stopped since. Most of my images are edited, but unique lighting found in all of my night shots allows for incredible interpretations of New York City and San Francisco skylines. Instagram: @chief770.