You won't believe these photos were taken in total darkness
Rafael Herman's images look like beautiful daytime landscapes, but there's more to his work than meets the eye.
At first glance, Rafael Y. Herman's photos don't seem all that exceptional.
They are simple images, often of ordinary landscapes awash in bright light. At best they are slightly abstract; odd shapes and dazzling colors tend to pop up from time to time.
However, once you learn that the photos are actually taken in the middle of the night, beneath the cover of darkness, you quickly gain an entirely new appreciation for the Israeli photographer's work.
Herman's exhibit, "The Night Illuminates the Night," is currently at Rome's contemporary art museum MACRO Testaccio.
We visited recently and were blown away by how much the images appeared to have been taken during the day. But, in fact, as a video installation showed, Herman takes the images in the pitch black of night. This very fact heightens the viewing experience dramatically.
The method Herman uses is a closely guarded secret, or so it seems. He oftentimes captures his images with very little knowledge of what he is photographing, only discovering what he has after the film's been developed.
“I use a long exposure following the results of the calculation and I manipulate the cameras in order to achieve exactly what I need,” he has said of this method. “I deconstruct it in order to obtain this kind of picture, with no light; there is no digital manipulation in the pictures.”
Herman has traveled the world, living in New York City, South America and Europe, but it is this work, which he created in his home country of Israel, that has captured the imagination of a global audience.
He pursues his nocturnal research through portraits of three different environs: the rich and spiritually suggestive forests of Israel's Galilee, the wild flowers and fields of the Judean Mountains, and the Mediterranean Sea.
For all his pioneering work, he has been asked to give a TED Talk and has become a prominent figure in the art world for his singular approach.
“If it is not seen, does it exist?” Herman asks in the MACRO Testaccio exhibition pamphlet. "If it exists, in what way? Is it exactly the way we see it in everyday light? What is the role of light in existence?”
We may never know the answers to any of these questions for certain, but that we even try to find them in the first place is in large part thanks to this Israeli artist.
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