Nightwatch: The Haunting Light Painted Nightscapes of Noel Kerns


Dallas-based photographer Noel Kerns specializes in capturing haunting night scenes of ghost towns, decommissioned military bases, and industrial abandonments. His creative use of different colored lights combined with moon light helps these old abandoned places come alive as vivid nightscapes.

When we caught up with Kerns to talk to him about his photography, he told us a story that reads a bit like the photographer’s version of the American Dream.

I began making photographs of abandonments at night back in the summer of 2007, and sharing my work on Flickr. Interest in my photos began to grow as people in the Flickr community saw and re-shared my work.

It started out as a purely organic process. I never actively marketed myself or my work in any way, but I began to get requests for prints, gallery showings and, ultimately, in the fall of 2010, an e-mail from Carpet Bombing Culture in the United Kingdom requesting to do a book of my work.

Considering the quality of his photos, it’s not actually all that surprising at all. All of the shots are taken using either his Nikon D80 or D300, and what you see is what you get.

By very carefully planning out his shot and using flashlights, strobes and colored gels to strategically add light, Kerns captures the final product in-camera during exposures that last, on average, one to three minutes — very little, if any, post-production is done at all.

Here’s a look at some of his work:














Chevys in Bowie, Texas. April 2009


The book Kerns mentioned above is called Nightwatch, and it’s already available for purchase from Amazon here (although not for much longer, as it seems there’s only one of them left in stock).

One final thought Kerns left us with when we spoke with him has to do with how you might hope to attain the kind of unplanned success he himself is currently enjoying:

I think there’s a lesson in there for photographers who are aspiring to get their work before larger audiences … be passionate about the style of photography you pursue, develop a niche and a style that defines your work, stick to that style, and don’t dilute the way you present that work on the internet with other sorts of images that distract from your core competence.

That last part is, I think, critically important. I can’t tell you how many amazing photographers I’ve seen never achieve the success they seek because they clutter their social photography presence or websites with family photos or other types of images that distract from the reason people come to see their work.

To see more of his work or find out more about the man behind the camera, head over to Kerns’ website, Flickr or Facebook by following the corresponding links.

(via The Guardian)

Image credits: Photographs by Noel Kerns and used with permission.

  • KH

    I’ve been following him on Flickr for a while and always enjoy seeing his work!

  • Joshua Tobias George Barrett

    1st, 2nd and 4th shots… that location looks familiar. Can anyone ID it, I swear I recognise it from a horror flick but i can’t think of the film’s name.

    Aside from that, great shots!

  • Dover

    I love real photography. These are wonderful. I am getting a little tired of ‘people photographed with the groceries they bought that day’ [and projects like that] as a desperate stab at originality. sorry if you don’t agree, but flame on. These images, in my opinion, are terrific.

  • Steve Grob

    Totally agree!

  • Andy

    Spectacular work !!
    I have always been drawn to abandoned buildings and towns. In an absurd way these architectural ghosts age like fine wine, gaining individuality and character as they decay. As someone famous once said “there are a thousand ways to be unique and ugly but only one or two ways to be perfectly beautiful.”

  • yopyop

    I simply love this. One thing that strikes me : he has great lighting skills. #13 may not be his best photo, but the precision of the lighting is excellent. Does anyone have any idea how to achieve this ?

  • Guest

    Its Four Aces Hotel
    14499 East. Ave. Q Palmdale California.
    Its a film set that was specifically built for filming.

  • Joshua Tobias George Barrett


  • Frank mckenna

    These are so good. What an inspiration and great idea..

  • kizi 2

    General view of old but very beautiful landscape, thanks your post

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  • moban

    reminds me of something like house of 1000 corpses