After Dark in the City

When I was seventeen, I moved into Winnipeg from a small community in rural Manitoba. In the country it was dark at night, unless there was a full moon or the northern lights were out dancing. 

At first, it was hard to fall asleep in the city—background light was always seeping in through the blinds and we couldn’t afford curtains. But there was an excitement in a place where you were never the only one who was awake.

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Sometimes I’d get up and stand in the dark, looking out. The street lights, a lone car’s headlights, an apartment building with only one lit window, all on the other side of the elm branches that crazy-mingled with the wind. The scenes reminded me of noir movies that would have been in black and white even if we had a colour television.

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And I started to love city nights and still do, dark but not dark, especially when seen through a camera lens. If there was no such thing as crime, I’d probably be out taking photos more often in the middle of the night—like in the feature photo up at the top of this post (a panorama taken while waiting for a bus on Main St.). Maybe a bit of apprehension adds to the mood of a photo.

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I often use my photos as prompts for writing—some good poems and fiction pieces have come from these night shots. What might be an innocent meeting near a bus station sure feels like it could be a clandestine exchange.

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Who are those other people out there? Are they like you? And why are they out there without cameras?

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Where are those fast moving cars headed to at this hour? 

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There are so many possibilities in the almost dark city.

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There’s the dusk before the dark. And the morning dawn always comes.

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