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Blackout City: A Composite Time-Lapse Of A Visible Milky Way Above A Lightless London

By Hanssie on December 6th 2014

Light pollution is the bane of an astrophotographer’s existence. The best way to see and capture the Milky Way is to have a completely dark sky, free of the modern debris of electricity to sully nature’s night show. It is virtually impossible to photograph the Milky Way in a metropolis filled with light pollution. That doesn’t mean that it cannot be done, Justin Ng, a contributor with SLR Lounge has done it and quite successfully with some post processing magic.


In 1994, a photographer from the UK, Nicholas Buer, read an article about a city-wide blackout in the metropolis that is Los Angeles, CA. During that blackout, there were reports of people calling 911 reporting strange white floating clouds. These clouds were the Milky Way and the article inspired Nicholas to reconnect to the night sky and make the following timelapse.


The following video, Blackout City, imagines what the busy, light polluted city of London would look like if there was ever a complete blackout on a clear night. Nicholas began the project in August 2013 and began collecting footage which he composited together to create this beautiful timelapse. Nicholas describes how he does this:

The city shots were captured during the day and processed to look like night and the night sky shots were captured from dark locations around the South of England to ensure that the stars are astronomically correct for the latitude of London. I have also processed the astro shots to be more sympathetic to what the naked eye would see in terms of saturation and detail.

There are many things you could draw from this film, but Nicholas hopes that this project inspires the viewer to get away from the glow of the city and “go somewhere quiet on a star-filled night and simply look up.”

Watch ‘Blackout City’ by Nicholas Buer

Nicholas Buer hopes to create more timelapses like this in various metropolis’ around the world. To see more of his incredible timelapse work, check out his Vimeo and website.

[Via Petapixel]

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Graham Curran

    Neat project!

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  2. Jason Boa

    Nice work

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  3. Clare Havill

    Would love to do this for real.

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  4. Peter Nord

    I just have to say it. That was so cool!

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  5. Dre Rolle

    This is gorgeous. The music is tad on the creepy side but none the less a stellar video.

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