Magic in the Night

City lights come alive in long exposures!

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"Roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair
The night's busting open, these two lanes will take us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels
Climb in back -- heaven's waiting down on the tracks ... "

Los Angeles International Airport and Imperial Highway.

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"It's dark all day and it glows all night ...
There has to be an invisible sun
It gives its heat to everyone
There has to be an invisible sun
That gives us hope when the whole day's done ... "

Balboa Island's holiday "Parade of Lights."

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"The road is long, with many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where, who knows where ...
He ain't heavy, he's my brother ... "

This photo was actually taken by my brother John somewhere in the middle of a cross-country driving trip we took in 1975. He was trying to take a hand-held shot of some lights over a lake, but the camera shook and produced these streaks. I thought they were beautiful, so I saved his rejected slide all these years.

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"She runs through the streets
With her eyes painted red
Under black belly of cloud in the rain ...
She is raging, and the storm blows up in her eyes ...
She's running to stand still ... "

I wondered what it would look like if I put a camera on the dashboard of a car and left the shutter open while going down the road at night. Now I know.

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"When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence ... "

Another shot through the windshield of a moving car, this time in the tunnel before Yosemite's Discovery View. (Yes, somebody else was doing the driving!)

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"I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky ... "

4th of July in Heber, Arizona.

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"And babe, don't you know it's a pity
The days can't be like the nights
In the summer in the city ... "

San Francisco from Twin Peaks.

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"All the lonely people, where do they all come from ... ?"

Walnut Avenue at Sepulveda Boulevard, El Segundo, California.

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"The lights are much brighter there --
you can forget all your troubles
forget all your cares
and go Downtown ... "

I made the San Diego skyline seem to explode by slowly cranking the zoom lens.

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"There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away
They haunt this dusty beach road in the skeleton frames of burned-out Chevrolets ...
And in the lonely cool before dawn you hear their engines roaring on
But when you get to the porch they're gone on the wind ... "

Pacific Coast Highway, with Santa Monica Pier in the background.

Trivia Quiz: Can you name the title and recording artist for all 10 songs quoted here? Click here to read the answers.


Revised: February 16, 2008
Copyright © 1999 Joe Orman (except song lyrics)
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