Dazzling Noctography (Nighttime Photos) : "ALong the Way"

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In a dictionary of cliché's his photographs would be undefined.

A Black Hills man spends his days as a realtor, his night's as a 'Noctographer'.

In this story we meet a man who works his camera a bit like a magic wand in the starlight: 'ALong the Way" in Spearfish.

The images of Aaron Ploog defy adjectives.

Noctographer Aaron Ploog says, "I think an image is going to mean something to different to every single person."

It's called Noctography, and Ploog is clearly a natural.

Noctographer Aaron Ploog says, "It's a play on words. It's nocturnal photography, therefore everything I do is after dark."

Giving old stuff new life, while the world is asleep. Like these old VW's at a junkyard.

Ploog says, "Right away it reminded me of the Beatles for some reason, the band. So Beatlemania was the name I came up with."

When Ploog puts his eye to the camera, the target of his lens is clear.

Ploog says, "The rustic decay, and in South Dakota we luckily have plenty of that. We have it on the plains in old farms, we have our ghost towns, mining towns of the Black Hills."

Focusing on what is forgotten.

Ploog says,"Just happened to be out scouting, just driving roads aimlessly looking for cool stuff to shoot and that was a stone home that I found that I'd never seen before."

And, a moment of glory for faded treasure near the once bustling Golden Reward Mining Land.

Ploog says, "It doesn't look like anything special in the daytime but it sure posed nicely that night."

Ironic that in pitch black: light is still the star attraction.

Ploog says, "Everything is different, every single time, depending on the moon, depending on light pollution from surrounding towns, depending on the lights I take with me that night. Some of my stuff is very basic homemade light toys and flashes and colored lights."

Like the open pit in Lead, the historic Homestake Mine, in the depth of night.

Ploog says, "So I had my camera vertically and I shot a 15 second shot, another 15 second shot, and I that 6 times and then I stitched that together with a software program to the get the wide look."

He named this one 'Streets of Gold', no wonder why.

Ploog says, "Light pollution from the traffic and ad the street lights almost give it a glowing gold look. "

Perhaps the most golden of noctographic principles is this:

Ploog says, "Anything that happens as a light form during a long exposure will be preserved as if it all happened at the same time."

Capturing surreal sights.

Aaron Ploog says, "Star trails are the term and if you wonder why they all rotate around a central point, that central point is Polaris the North Star, and so a lot of times I search for that star while I'm setting up the camera, I like the circle, It's almost like a vortex."

Even a tree: a photo named 'Tall Dark Stranger' is mysterious in the vortex of noctographic reality. An old miner's cabin in the ghost town of Tinton looks like it's on the Las Vegas strip thanks to a bit of lighting and a night long dandy of a star trail.

Ploog says, "This is the longest long exposure I've ever shot it was an 8 hour exposure. It was so long that I camped on the ground in my sleeping bag next to the tripod just to make sure nobody would come a long and steal my equipment."

Raised on a farm in Northern South Dakota, still some farm boy in his blood, and not afraid of a little dirt.

Ploog says, "I'm crawling in and out of these cars and homes or just hiding behind a tree, just lighting it up from behind the trunk."

Ploog grows a steady crop of striking images, in the fields of days gone by: harvested with a camera, and a strong sense of South Dakota roots. >

If you've met someone cool "Along the way", please e–mail or call us with your story ideas.

He says he's 95 percent self taught. And believe it or not he's only been doing this for about a half dozen years.

Anytime between sunset and sunrise is primetime for Ploog, which is why his business is known as: "Awake at Night Photography".