Darkened Skies matches the skies of rural areas to the skylines of major cities.

Photographer Thierry Cohen travels all over the world to create these images. Here, Shanghai.

He matches both locations by their exact latitude--which means they see the same patch of sky.

A Tokyo street scene.

Cohen also shoots the cities during the day, rather than at night, which makes it easier to "darken" them in post-production.

The Golden Gate bridge looks unearthly.

Manhattan, see from Brooklyn.

Hong Kong.

Another shot of Hong Kong’s harbor.

Los Angeles.

Frank Gehry’s concert hall in LA.

New York.


Another Paris shot.

Paris from the Seine.

São Paulo.


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Lights Out: What SF, NYC, And Tokyo Would Look Like Under Montana's Stars

Thierry Cohen superimposes the night skies of rural areas on the skylines of Paris and Tokyo.

City living is a series of compromises—we give up one thing to enjoy another. But Darkened Skies, a series by French photographer Thierry Cohen, shows us something we might not even realize is missing: the stars.

Cohen starts by shooting magnificent images of night skies in places like rural Montana and the Sahara. Then, he matches each photograph to a megacity on the same latitude, layering them into a single photo. So Darkened Skies doesn’t just show us the Milky Way randomly inserted behind the Manhattan Skyline; it shows us the exact piece of sky that we’d be able to see if not for light pollution. The critic Francis Hodgson explains:

There is an urban mythology, which is already old, in which the city teems with energy and illumines everything around it. All roads lead to Rome, we were told. Cohen is telling us the opposite. It is impossible not to read these pictures the way the artist wants them read: cold, cold cities below, cut off from the seemingly infinite energies above. It’s a powerful reversal, and one very much in tune with a wave of environmental thinking of the moment.

Check out Darkened Skies at Danziger Gallery beginning on March 28.

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  • Lovedaisy

    Just to clarify, the shot of S.F. is actually the Bay Bridge not the Golden Gate.

  • ah.8

    The SF bridge picture is not of the Golden Gate Bridge. It is instead the Bay Bridge. Please correct. 

  • Sno

    Thank you. 

    I don't even live near San Fran... and this was bothering the hell out of me. Learn your godsdamn bridges.