It was a one off chance, as things turned out. I have always wanted to photograph Durham at night. When the streets are empty, and the lights illuminate the old stone and cobbled squares. An hour at which only the ghosts walk the old university city…
When it came, the chance was quite unexpected. I arrived back in the city in the early hours by train, back from a trip abroad. And, surprisingly alert and lively, I decided to spend an hour touring the famous sites, to get my shots.
But I actually lost myself in the city I know so well, so to speak. For, with no traffic on the road or people in the streets, I was able to frame pictures and see the sights from a series of vantage points that daytime traffic would have made impossible. And, as I warmed to my theme- and luckily it was a warm night- I really got into my sudden, impulsive mission.
Shorn of the normal noise and bustle of every day life, those streets and buildings really do speak to you in a way that is almost audible. While the famous cathedral and castle loomed vast and ghostly in the blackness, bathed in a wash of weak fluorescent lighting, it was the old, cobble stone bridges and streets that really got me. Even the rolling River Wear seemed to be on mute; a few lights glistening on the ink black surface were almost the only clue to its presence.
It was quite the night. Ghostly statues loomed, huge and impassive, against the charcoal hue of the night. Stars peeped between the leaves of trees that were undisturbed by even the ghost of a breeze. Somewhere, a bottle fell over, and the sound carried in the stillness like a rolling artillery barrage. Then, stillness again…
I have to say, the ghosts were very good company. They led me by turns through centuries of the old, historic university city. And then, suddenly, something quite magical happened.
To my utter amazement, the first, pale fingers of daylight began to glance across the blackness. Slowly at first, but inevitable and wondrous, daylight overwhelmed the darkness, and a wash of stunning, vibrant sunlight kissed the cobble stones of old Durham. Bowing politely, the ghosts made their excuses, and left me to breathe in the first rays of a near perfect new day.
The legacy of that strange, semi-mystical mission is here for you to see for yourselves. Happy browsing!