City Photos: 8 sequential photos showing cities as you have never seen them before

Images of the famous city may not have been what poet Walt Whitman had in mind when he said, “To me, every hour of the day and night is a perfect, indescribable miracle.” However, this quote appeared early in Stephen Wilkes’ new coffee table book, day night, As an introduction to unprecedented work, all by the wildly innovative American photographer, photojournalist, and fine artist dedicated to his craft. Taschen released the vibrant volume this summer, and its supernatural panoramas are the definition of eye candy.

For over a decade, Wilkes has been on the road capturing images of bustling major cities, deserted but viewing wildlife vistas, iconic destinations, historical landmarks and more in a way that is completely unique to most. His method—which results in high-resolution images that show the passage of time over the course of an entire day—begins by setting up his camera at a fixed angle and spending the day (up to 36 hours) clicking about 1,500 individual frames. Wilkes then selects the best day and night shots to seamlessly combine them into one image, resulting in the deepest city images imaginable.

As Wilkes puts it, it is “a visualization of our conscious journey through time.” He likens this practice to meditation, highlighting the endless life stories of bystanders whose actions end up frozen in time through his lens. Author Lyle Rexer writes text that accompanies each unique collection, which gives the viewer entirely new perspectives on places as diverse as Coney Island, the London Eye, Miami, Tel Aviv, Red Square, and Wrigley Field.

When photographing the Eiffel Tower in 2014, Wilkes mounted a 40-foot lift truck for 18 hours in stormy weather. He slept on top of an observation tower during a 36-hour photo shoot in the Grand Canyon in anticipation of the perfect hour when the moon would illuminate his subject. His view of Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is as otherworldly as the silica- and sulfur-rich waters and the famous northern lights. In Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, during a drought, the photographer followed muddy zebras to a watering hole where he spent 26 hours in a crocodile blind, recording a veritable Noah’s Arc of wildlife all day long. At Steeple Jason in the Falkland Islands, where few humans have ever been, Wilkes witnessed an incredible number of black-browed albatrosses, a bird with the same mate for life.

Some of his works – for example Trafalgar Square, where a young couple embraces as the sky turns midnight blue, and Vatican City, which shows the Pope 10 times over – resemble a painting. Where’s Waldo? It is discoveries like these that motivate Wilkes’ labor of love. “I’ve always been drawn to art where the more you look at something, the more you discover,” says the photographer. There is a lot of that in this new volume.

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