My project of shooting Bellingham at night has been going well. I spent some time up at Western Washington University recently, where I was able to snag a few more good images of landmark locations. It’s often uncomfortable for me to spend too much time on campus — I’m no longer of average college age and I never attended this school, so I don’t quite feel like I belong. That’s the hardest part with shooting urban environments in general for me, of course, but people on campus tend to be a lot more likely to approach me and ask what I’m doing than elsewhere. The hardest part about that is they’re being nice about it and are just interested — but that’s hard for me to handle at times. If they were more of a “hey stop that” type, I know how to handle that. But people being nice always throws me off. And when I’m off, it’s harder to get a good photo session going.

Students study in Western's Library as seen from near the statue "For Handel"

Students study in Western’s Library as seen from near the statue “For Handel”

It had been off and on raining that night, which was fortunate for the photographs. It’s much easier to love a night-lights-and-reflections photo without a doubt. The campus has plenty of momentary shelter as well, which is useful when the occasional random downpour rolls through.

Red Brick Pathway Western Washington University

One of the many winding red brick paths on the Western campus.

I think what I’m typically looking for in night photos I didn’t quite find up on campus. It’s a little too trafficked and busy. I want hints of loneliness, emptiness. I want a theme of abandonment to at least poke its head into the shot. I think that night time melancholy is not only what I’m looking to photograph, but what drives me out of my apartment to take photos in the first place. There’s not much in my place but this big computer screen to keep me satisfied. I did manage to find that feel in one image I took while on campus. Some days I hate this photo and some days I love it. But I loved it when I took it and that usually carries a bit of weight long term.

Three silhouettes walking at night on the western washington university campus.

Evening foot commuters leaving Western’s campus.

Ultimately I think I need to find more abandoned areas. I may need to be more aggressive about going where I don’t belong — typically I’ll avoid any location where I have to feel like I’m sneaking around but then again I think I could really get something there. Also, I’m still hunting for that panorama of Bellingham I have in my mind. I haven’t been able to catch a sweeping shot of Bellingham yet that meets my standards. I need more roof access!