There’s a subject heading for that!?: night photography

06 May

Sometimes subject headings are cool and introduce a concept or topic that otherwise wouldn’t have crossed your mind. This week, “night photography” fit that case.

When I came across it, the sub. head. made sense but got me wondering why it needed separation from simply “photography” and all the narrow terms that go along with it. But as I looked into night photography further, the need for such a sub. head. easily made a case for itself, as seen in the linked examples near the end of this post.

First, let’s look at where this sub. head. is located. In the LC Authorities for “photography”, though there is a long list of narrower terms, you won’t find this one at first glance. Oddly enough, it’s nested within a narrower term. Can you guess which one? Spoiler: it’s under “available light photography”.

Available light photography covers the idea that only the natural light and the light already there is used when taking a photo, hence night photography listed as a narrower term of this concept. The authority for it is straight-forward:


As the 680 explains, “night photography” covers “works on the technique of taking photographs outdoors at night and collections of these photographs”. While the description explains the concept simply, the photos and collections are anything but mundane. Have you opened a new tab yet to search for it? Regardless, here are some of my new favorite night photographers and their awesome night photos; for the photographer’s sake, I’ve linked to their works.

A graveyard with some streaking stars. Circus Krone in Augsburg, Germany. The Red Eyed Grouper, which uses some added light from flashlights for effect. 50 exposures needed for this beautiful streaking stars photo. A large collection of 60 night photographers. And finally, a more intimate gallery.

In addition to night photography in the pure sense, many photographers use flashlights to add mood, color, and dimension to their photos. One cool phenomenon seen in some of the photos is “light painting”, which can range from adding color to the Buick in the Red Eyed Grouper photo to actually creating another image in the photo via the flashlight such as orbs or shapes or even words.

Here’s an amazing collection of light photography that range from adding emphasis to the photo, outlining, and creating the main focus/subject from added light. LC doesn’t have a “light photography” sub. head. but since this occurs in night photography itself, one isn’t needed, not yet anyway. In the LC catalog, there are 63 works with the sub. head. “night photography” and a handful more with subdivisions. From what I can tell, there are no works explicitly on “light painting” by itself but it is addressed in some night photography items.

Here’s a more technical description about night photography and the light needed. Plus Wikipedia has a good article for starters.

While I am not a late-night person, these photos are so inspiring that I might take up this hobby myself! Who knows, maybe I’ll give up librarianship to become a night photographer.

On second thought, what cataloger could leave this wonderful world of subject headings?

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Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Uncategorized


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