Night Sceneries

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 Mathieu Degrotte, France
March-April, 2012


As a lover of long-exposure photography and a photographer of fire performances, I am used to shoot during the night, and I remember having some really great moments while doing it. Capturing the traffic in front of a shopping centre after a day long hiking, or composing artistic pictures with swords on fire in front of a medieval castle were unforgettable memories. But I think my most memorable and interesting night photography experience happened in Kirtipur, Nepal.

The first time I went there, we were supposed to take photos of the starry sky. But, since weather never bends to your expectations, we had some clouds and also a huge storm approaching. So, our star photography turned out to be more a lightning photography. I have always experienced such things during my photographer life: I usually go out to take certain pictures, but in the end I come up with totally different, unexpected – but still amazing – shots. This night was one of these great moments. After setting up our equipment in the rooftop of the Kirtipur view point restaurant, I found a really good point of view of a traditional temple, with the storm in the background. I set my camera in automatic mode and took several dozens of shots which turned out to be really interesting –lightning bolts in the background and the temple in the foreground. We even had a power cut which was really great to avoid parasite lights on the photos. Nepali storms are really different from French storms: they last longer, move slower, and have much much more lightning bolts – which is really a perfect condition for me.

I also always smile when remembering leaving my camera on the rooftop to capture the approaching lightning, and running out to pack it just before heavy rain started.

I always wanted to have good lightning photography to add to my portfolio, and this night’s shots were beyond my expectations. I couldn’t choose which one I preferred: every single shot looked just purely amazing to me. I was so glad I came there instead of celebrating the Nepali new year in Kathmandu – yes, this happened on the Nepali new year’s eve.

I went to the same place a second time with more volunteer photographers, but I didn’t feel the same magic I felt on my first time here. I could take nice time lapses of the night traffic of Kathmandu’s ring road, and beautiful views of Swayambunath at night, but the feeling was gone. I think this kind of moments happens just a few times in your life. And, when you experience one, you will always remember it.