Thursday, 14 January 2010

Troy Paiva's Night Vision

Recently, I updated my Facebook fanpage  status, saying that whilst I liked looking at awe-inspiring landscapes I have never had the urge to photograph them. Cityscapes however, are a different flashcard of pixels. Cities excite me. I love the architecture, the inhabitants running around like loonies each with their own agenda, the vibes, the creative buzz. The sleaze!  So, when I stumbled across the website of Troy Paiva, I knew I had found a place where the landscape was photographed in such a way as to combine the two and snare my interest completely. Troy is an UrbEx (Urban Exploration) photographer. His photographs capture part of America’s recent past that has been forgotten and left to decay slowly - and beautifully- under the sun of the deserts and arid lands of California, Arizona, Texas and Utah. But These are ordinary documentary images. They are shot at night and Troy carefully and ingeniusly paints colour onto his subjects with gelled lights. The effect is amazing. One can see that long exposures have blurred the stars and smeared the clouds. Palm fronds meld into the night time skies. Silver moonlight and harsh shadows fill many of his stark vistas. Abandoned cars and trucks, airplane ‘boneyards’, gas stations that pumped out petrol in another era, and stations that haven’t seen a train in many a decade. You can almost see the ghosts of people going about their business. I love old Americana. And I’m a sucker for old American cars and it is this gallery on Troy’s site that really appeals to me and why I bought this book. I would have been content with a book of cars but the vehicles are outnumbered by the buildings. So what. I still wasn’t disappointed. I can still go back and look at the gallery until he takes it down. Don't by the way. To think that Troy doesn’t use lightstands or any accoutrements that might hamper him getting into and out of his locations fast is mind boggling. According to the book, he uses one strobe and a lot of flashlights - which I take to means torches. Everything fits into a daysack. I have to say that Paiva’s images have given me more pleasure than any I can think of for a long time. I dived straight onto Amazon and bought this book after seeing it on his website. Marvellous. I pretty much know that when I have some cash for books this one will be at the top of the list.

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