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Brooklyn-Bridge-Thierry-Cohen-Photography-Darkened-Cities-UntappedCities-NYC.48 PMA Darkened New York City 

New York City is known for the thousands of tiny little lights that make up its magnificent nighttime skyline. Now imagine if all those tiny lights went out. What would the skyline look like then? Photographer Thierry Cohen has played with this idea and created a provocative series of photographs called Villes éteintes (Darkened Cities)In this series, he blacks out multiple cities from across the world and reimagines what they’d look like if we could see the nighttime sky. At Untapped Cities, we love these conceptual projects that reimagine the world’s cities differently, like what Manhattan would look like if it were in the Grand Canyon or designed like Paris. 

NY-Empire-State-Building-Thierry-Cohen-Photography-UntappedCities-NYC -002.13 PMEmpire State Building in New York 

As most big city dwellers know, even on the clearest night its virtually impossible to see any stars due to light and atmospheric pollution. In order to create these breathtaking photos, Cohen had to superimpose cityscapes over foreign skies. The results are breathtaking. (All images courtesy of Cohen’s website.)

Cohen’s process behind each photograph was laborious. According to his website, rather than simply just taking a picture of a random starry sky and imposing it over the city,  he actually traveled to rural areas at the same latitudes as the cities he photographed. According to Wired, he would use the same camera, at the same angle and used almost identical exposure times. In doing so, he was able to create the skies we would actually be able to see. For example, Paris‘ sky-equivalent was found in Montana. But he also had to travel to much more remote areas, including the Mojave, the Sahara, and the Atacama deserts.

Ground-Zero-Darkened-Cities-Thierry-Cohen-UntappedCities-NYC.30 PMGround Zero 40° 42′ 43” N 2010-10-14 Lst 3:42

He also had to create deadened, blacked out buildings. His website states that he actually took the photos of the cities during the day when fewer lights would be on and visible. According to Wired, he used “the combination of under-exposure and filters–a technique known as day for night—results in what appear to be nighttime views free of artificial light.” He creates a magnificent contrast between the density of the stars verse the density of concrete buildings and roadways.

We were of course fascinated by his work of iconic New York City landmarks: the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building and Ground Zero. But check the other cities he worked on below:

Rio de Janeiro 22° 56’ 42’’ S 2011-06-04 lst 12:34Paris 48° 50’ 55’’ N 2012-08-13 lst 22:15

Paris 48° 51’ 03’’ N 2012-07-19 lst 19:46Paris 48° 51’ 03’’ N 2012-07-19 lst 19:46

Los Angeles 34° 03’ 20’’ N 2010-10-09 lst 21:50

San Francisco 37° 48’ 30’’ N 2010-10-09 lst 20:58San Francisco 37° 48’ 30’’ N 2010-10-09 lst 20:58

Shanghai 31° 13′ 22” N 2012-03-17 Lst 14:47

Hong Kong 22° 16’ 38’’ N 2012-03-22 lst 14:00

Darkened Cities - Villes éteintesRio de Janeiro 22° 56’ 42’’ S 2011-06-04 lst 12:34

For more on Thierry Cohen and his artwork you can also visit the Danziger Gallery. Next, see what Manhattan would look like if it were in the Grand Canyon or designed like Paris or what NYC might have looked like if the Germans won WWII

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