Photography in low-light conditions first became possible in the late 1880s with the introduction of the gelatin dry-plate process, which reduced exposure times significantly. Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen were among the first artists to take up the challenge of capturing images after dark. Stieglitz turned his lens on the city in such works as Reflections: Night, New York (1897) and An Icy Night (1898), while Steichen rendered the magic of the woods at dusk in Woods Twilight (1899). Alvin Langdon Coburn, a contemporary of Stieglitz and Steichen, was mesmerized by the glow of Manhattan’s electrified streetlamps, which he compared to stars lighting up the avenue, as in his photograph Broadway at Night (ca. 1910). By the early 20th century, night photography came into its own as an artistic genre as the technical innovations of smaller handheld cameras, faster photographic film, and commercial flashbulbs freed artists to explore further the nocturnal universe of shimmering light and velvety darkness.
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Stieglitz, Alfred, Richard Whelan, and Sarah Greenough. Stieglitz on Photography: His Selected Essays and Notes. New York, NY: Aperture Foundation, 2000. p. 85
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Thornton, Gene. Masters of the Camera: Stieglitz, Steichen & Their Successors. New York: Ridge Press, 1976 p. 49