Book Review: Nightwatch - Painting with Light by Noel Kerns

Nightwatch - Painting with Light


This review is written by Robin Benson.

The night seen

An impressive book of night photos revealing abandoned structures that litter the American landscape and following in the footsteps of the master of the genre: Troy Paiva. Though Paiva tends to concentrate on his night painting format Kerns offers a broader view in many of the photos here by using the light of a full moon. Probably more than half the photos use color from gels placed in front of flashlights and strobes. Sometimes, I thought, this tends to be a hit or miss with a colored light creating a rather artificial feel but other times, used rather subtlety, it creates quite stunning photos.

The range of places and things captured by Kerns is wonderfully comprehensive. The usual abandoned gas stations on the Interstate and of course the ruins of Detroit but also rusting dead tech, factories, motels, churches, aircraft, military installations and one photo of three train coaches with most of its windows missing.

Like Paiva's 2008 book 'Night vision' this book has captions for all the photos (location and date) but also frequently a few words from Kern's about the place in the photo and what he felt about it. It's not fashionable these days, in art photo books, for photographers to add any text thinking that the photos say it all but reading Kern's comments certainly give his work a lift in my view.

There are no page numbers so I can't say exactly how many photos there are but at least 250 which makes this a value for money title. The book is a handy square format with the photos printed with a 175 screen on a reasonable semi-matt art paper. The whole book is black which unfortunately can show up finger marks easily and I found a slight annoyance with the text, because it isn't a ragged right setting there are lots of uneven spaces between the words (OK, a minor point but as a designer I notice these things). Overall though a fascinating collection of night photos and virtually every one pulls you into the composition, no also rans here.

Nightwatch - Painting with Light is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN) and Book Depository (US | UK)

Nightwatch - Painting with Light by Noel Kerns

Nightwatch - Painting with Light by Noel Kerns

Nightwatch - Painting with Light by Noel Kerns

Nightwatch - Painting with Light by Noel Kerns

Nightwatch - Painting with Light by Noel Kerns

Nightwatch - Painting with Light by Noel Kerns

Nightwatch - Painting with Light by Noel Kerns

Nightwatch - Painting with Light by Noel Kerns

Nightwatch - Painting with Light by Noel Kerns
A failed theme park in Italy, Texas. Still standing and you can find it on Street View.

Nightwatch - Painting with Light by Noel Kerns

Nightwatch - Painting with Light by Noel Kerns

Nightwatch - Painting with Light by Noel Kerns

Nightwatch - Painting with Light by Noel Kerns


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