In Photos: The Deserted Streets Of London After Dark

In Photos: The Deserted Streets Of London After Dark

Photographer Ray Knox tells us about his lockdown project, Close to Home, in which he ventured out onto north London's deserted streets at night, capturing a still and silent city.

an illuminated bus stop
Not so many night buses in 2020.

I started my photography project shortly after the introduction of the first lockdown as a way of alleviating my restlessness from being confined to home all day.

The underside of a canal bridge is illuminated purple
Eerie but strangely beautiful.

I would venture out on my neighbourhood walks just after dusk when the streets were deserted and eerily quiet.

a houseboat parked outside a row of georgian houses on the canal
The lights are on but no one's visible, in Little Venice.

Initially, I stuck quite close to home but over time I kept increasing the distance I covered on my meandering strolls around north London.

A triple lamp lamppost glowing in the dark
Mornington Crescent.

The solitude I found wandering the streets was an almost meditative experience of simply observing as I walked.

the illuminated marquee of Screen o the Green
Angel Islington.

It gave me the chance to explore my local surroundings more closely and notice things I had overlooked for years.

Two cars parked outside two tower blocks

What a revelation, streets so familiar during the day were completely transformed after dark.

A red curtain is illuminated in an otherwise darkened detached house

Artificial light at night is much more controlled, and you can almost see more clearly because the light focuses your attention on a certain feature or colour.

A van with 'eggs' graffitied on the side of it
The famous Eggs cracks out the spray can.

It also illuminates a scene in much the same way you would light a still life or a stage set.

An empty car park
Nothing doing in Finchley.

I get excited when I have the opportunity to photograph in fog as this gives light a wonderful cinematic quality, reminiscent of film noir.

a rainbow artwork glows inside a darkened empty office
The end of the rainbow.

During lockdown I photographed some of north London's iconic cinemas and was particularly moved by signage on the Phoenix in East Finchley, "DEAR VIRUS YOU WILL NOT KILL CINEMAS".

A half timbered pub, the old white lion

My images changed dramatically when the streets lights in the area were converted to LEDs, which produce a white light compared to the previous orange glow of sodium lights.

A phone box glowing through the gloom

One of my favourite photographs is the house with a red curtain. I find it fascinating how ambient light at night can transform a mundane space, inducing a surreal, dreamlike quality and create an air of mystery.

the frontage of the closed down everyman in barnet
Barnet.

I believe there is an infinite amount of interesting pictures to be made on our doorstep, but you have to search for them.

a red neon hotel sign glows
A touch of film noir.

Looking ahead I hope to continue this project through capturing the quiet beauty of my neighbourhood at night, which often goes unnoticed.

An empty, foggy lamplit street in north London
North Finchley.

See more images from Closer to Home — and other Ray Knox photography projects on his website.

All images © Ray Knox.

Last Updated 29 June 2022

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