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Nocturnal Photographer Daniel Freeman

Daniel Freeman has specialised in nocturnal photography for over a decade, captivated by the beauty that descends upon a location when the daylight fades and the quiet takes hold. Drawn by the solace found at night, Daniel spends time driving through the night in search of locations that communicate his vision of the tranquility that the night offers. His various night photography projects have seen him tour parts of Europe and extensively around America.

Whether the other side of the world or closer to home, the vision and intention is always the same – to communicate a world often overlooked, one of mystery and escapism; with elements of the familiar and identifiable. Daniel finds equal wonder in beautiful landscape as he does in the vernacular and the man-made, all made magical under the night sky. His work has featured in various publications, as well as gaining him professional qualifications and photographic awards.

Here he reveals how his passion for nocturnal photography began and talks us through how important his monitor is in his digital photography workflow.

You have been doing nocturnal photography for over a decade now. How did you discover your passion for that type of photography?

“I had been interested in taking pictures through my youth, but never as anything more than fun, a means by which I could capture fun events or family moments. In my late teens I developed a love for traveling, my purchase of a car and motorcycle fueling a sense of adventure and opening up opportunities for me to explore places far beyond the limitations of my hometown. Accompanying this newfound desire to travel was a growing need within me to document the places I visited and the roadside scenes I witness. It was around this time I started taking my film camera on my trip. The journeys rapidly became less about a destination and all about documenting the journey.

“I went to university to study photography and was guided by a great lecturer who pushed my technical and creative processes hard. With less time to take journeys in the daytime, I took to driving lots at night. However, it was not until I learnt about night photography that I ever imagined I could capture my nocturnal journeys on camera. This changed everything for me. I started going out frequently for long drives at night; photographing a multitude of different styles of nocturnal image capture, trying to find ‘my’ style. As time went on I honed my craft and applied my developed style to locations around the UK, parts of Europe and extensively across USA. Every time I set up my camera in the night, I get the same excitement as I did upon capturing my first nocturnal image.”

What’s the hardest thing about doing nocturnal photography?

“It is working around encounters with people who are unsure of my intentions. Photographing at night is usually a solitary experience for me, which I relish, but this desire to work alone has often made me appear ‘suspicious’ to others who are unaware of what I am doing. Unless commissioned, I don’t shoot on private land, yet I am frequently approached by people in an often hostile fashion. When I explain what I do and show examples of my work, this usually appeases the situation and reduces tension. This combined with a number of risks that are not always immediately visible in the darkness, for example, snakes in the desert or drainage shafts on derelict sites means that whilst night photography is relaxation and escapism for me, I have to be vigilant at all times.

What monitor do you use?

“I use an EIZO ColorEdge CG277 monitor.”

Why did you decide to buy an EIZO ColorEdge monitor?

“When I was at university years ago, my lecturer, Paul Ives, gave a talk about monitor calibration and colour profiling for print. I had no understanding of the significance of monitors for colour accuracy until he showed a comparison between his EIZO and the Mac screen and then compared these to print. I was hooked and wanted one since that day, and as I progressed in the industry there was a growing demand for my work to be printed. The work I produce requires high levels of detail in colour. Often there is a strong graduation and range of tones across the skies I capture in my imagery and I required a monitor that was capable of representing these. EIZO has always been the only monitor I trust with this level of accuracy to communicate my work from digital to print format. This trust mean I can be confident in colour and exposure at the point of output.”

What is your setup and how do you use your EIZO?

“I run my EIZO connected to an iMac. I only ever intended to use it for image/ visual-based work, but I frequently end up using it as a second monitor. I edit in total darkness and with the iMac’s brightness turned down I find it locks me in to what I am doing on the EIZO without visual distraction.”

What do you use your monitor for?

“Editing, refining and reviewing imagery and peace of mind. A lot of the imagery I produce requires considerable detail in the shadows to be observed. I specifically work with a print company that understand the importance of this and it is only logical, therefore, that I should work with a monitor that is capable of showing the accuracy and the detail in the shadow regions also. As well as using the EIZO monitor for retouching imagery, I also use it for constructing PDFs and other portfolios because I can’t bear to look at my work on any inferior monitor when selecting work for clients and output.”

How important is the monitor for you?

“Crucial, I could or would not output my photography any other way now. I know that when I send work to editors, either for features or pitching for work, that the imagery has all been output on the highest quality monitor, which gives me the additional confidence in the way that the work will be received the clients end. I am incredibly meticulous in the way I retouch and output my imagery, working on colours and exposures in my pictures and tweaking until I am happy they are perfect. The EIZO complements this perfectly, with colour rendition that is fine-tuned and accurate. Essentially it allows me to get as close to the original vision I had for the image when I was stood there taking it.”

What is the biggest difference you have noticed in your work since switching to an EIZO monitor?

“Accuracy when printing. A large majority of my work is sold in print form as well as exhibited in galleries and publications, and the EIZO gives me full confidence that when my work is sent to print it will comes back strong and true to my original on-screen version. This confidence is crucial to me, as I need to know that when editors are viewing my work, what they are looking at has been output to the highest standard, especially when the work is for print features. This improves productivity and workflow for me because the monitor gives me the confidence to send work off to clients and printers without having to provide ‘alternative colour’ versions, or test samples first.”

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