Night Photography by David Baldwin



Charterhouse Winter 2009/10


During December 2009 and early January 2010 I was lucky enough to be able to return to my old school to make night images there once more.  
As I have already described elsewhere it was while I was a pupil at Charterhouse in the early 1980s that I started taking night photographs.  This experience had a huge effect on me, and I think that subconsciously all my night work since has its roots in the striking mixture of Gothic architecture and sky I marvelled at while there as a boy. Buildings and a landscape that I could touch, stars that were forever beyond my reach, magically contained within the same photographic frame.

If I am honest I was never completely happy with my early Charterhouse night images. Back then I had access to comparatively slow lenses and film which wouldn't allow me to record the point star images of my observations and imagination.   Instead I had to compromise with images of star trails which to me lacked depth and authenticity.

Nearly a quarter of a century then passed before the advent of digital photography made short exposure stellar photography realistic at last.  This meant I could have my point stars no star trails if I didn't want them anymore!  I began to dream again about the type of images I should have made at Charterhouse if digital had been available back then.  I kept thinking how wonderful it would be to revisit the school now, as an adult, and to produce a few night images with the sense of place I remembered.  To my delight I was given the necessary permission to return.  I photographed the school during the Christmas holidays, partly to ensure long hours of darkness, partly so as not to disturb any current pupils, and also if I am honest - to use the temporary relative emptiness of the site to create a fragile but satisfying illusion that it all belonged to me again. In a way I had come home.

I show here only 10 images in total, a mere outline of my feelings about this amazing night place, brief but infinitely precious to me.

I am very grateful to the Headmaster, The Reverend John Witheridge, for generously giving me permission to return for this project, and also to the Charterhouse Security Department, for their support during my evenings at the school.