The Art of Night – The Photography of Mark Gee

City Lights to Dark Skies – International Dark Sky Week 2014

I think this image from the film pretty much says it all for me - life without dark skies - you don't know what you're missing...

I think this image from the film pretty much says it all for me – life without dark skies – you don’t know what you’re missing…

‘City Lights To Dark Skies’ is my contribution to this years International Dark Sky Week, which runs from the 20 – 26 April 2014. I spend a lot of time photographing the night sky and have seen many of the negative effects that light pollution can have. So I thought one of the best ways to educate people about light pollution would be to show them the difference between a light polluted city sky and a dark sky with little or no light pollution. I used time-lapse photography to demonstrate this, and spent many hours in different lighting conditions capturing the footage.

The footage was shot around the Wellington and Wairarapa region on the North Island of New Zealand. We are very lucky here, as the light pollution around Wellington itself is no where near as bad as it is in larger cities such as New York, London or Sydney. Wellington is surrounded by hills, so a lot of the light pollution is contained within, and you can travel just 20 minutes out of the city center to find skies dark enough to view the Milky Way with the naked eye. I also traveled to locations with varying degrees of dark skies. From locations with moderate light pollution to the darkest of skies miles from anywhere in the Wairarapa – it was an interesting exercise to see what is visible in the night sky as you go from place to place.

During my time as an astrophotographer, I have spoken to many people from around the world who have been interested in my photographs and videos. I was truly shocked when some of them said to me that they have never seen the Milky Way with their own eyes before. I did some further research into this and found that more than one fifth of the world population, two thirds of the US population and one half of the European Union population have already lost naked eye visibility of the Milky Way! This is a real shame, and the knock on effects of light pollution can be a lot more serious than just not being able to see the stars at night.

Finally, I urge you to go check out the International Dark Sky Association. You can access their website at and also the International Dark Sky Week webpage at Here they have a lot of information on the effects of light pollution, and what can be done in your community to combat it. And during International Dark Sky Week, do yourself a favor and head out of the cities for some star gazing. It can be a truly humbling experience, especially if you haven’t done it before. It’s certainly a release for me from every day life…after all, life without dark skies – you don’t know what you are missing…

The music, Nocturne 1985, by Rhian Sheehan was used with permission. You can check out Rhian’s latest album, “Stories from Elsewhere” and more of his amazing music here:


City Lights To Dark Skies from Mark Gee on Vimeo.

14 Responses to “City Lights to Dark Skies – International Dark Sky Week 2014”

  1. Hi Mark

    I have been following your photos on facebook and shared some of them under my personal fb account (cheryl Jaggard) but would love to be able to share the video on our ethernet tv in the reception area in the Carterton Events Centre. I am not sure whether this is ok to do due to copyright etc and just wanted to know if this would be a possibility?


    Cheryl Jaggard

  2. Harry says:

    Hello Mark,

    Amazing snaps of milky way, i am crazy about it. do you know couple of site in wellington from where i can view this breathtaking view as i am new in this city and trust me been looking for spot where i can view some amazing view of night sky light…

    Awaiting for your reply.

    Kind Regards,

    • markg says:

      Harry, anywhere on the Wellington south coast – Moa Point, Princess Bay and Red Rocks are great spots, or head out to Makara Beach on the west coast.


  3. Goran says:

    Hi Mark,

    This is beautiful and I certainly know what you are talking about when saying what Europe and other parts of the world are missing.

    I am taking my family to Mt Cook village for Labour weekend and keeping my fingers crossed that the sky will be clear (and Mr Moon kindly agreed to be on our side “sleeping” during that time). We are planning to take some astro-photos and it would be greatly appreciated if you could point us newbies to some good books or web pages to learn more about astrophotography.

    We enjoy watching your work so much and wish you all the best.

    Kind regards,


  4. Goran says:

    Thanks Mark!

  5. Vladimir says:

    Very beautiful! On what kind of equipment was it done?

  6. aim says:

    Can i use that fantastic photo in the top of this page in my instagram (with your name and link)

Leave a Reply