Fracking – the night sky

I was up in frack land again having a look at the night sky. It’s only at night that the full impact of drilling activities can be seen. As the sky darkens, the industrial lights, rigs, and flares appear on the horizon and reconfigure the landscape. The illuminations are like magnets. In the company of residents who know the terrain and are similarly fixated on night crawling, I point my car in the direction of these pockets of light that rise from the darkened hills. When it’s foggy, the sky animates. Quick flickers, the fall off from flaring, turn the sky orange. I chase the flares down dirt roads which reveal scenes of tremendous disruption. A rig and a flare, breathing and billowing, another flare behind the hills. Empty homes lit by the fire, one abandoned after the water turned bad. The flares are loud and uneven, they swoosh and erupt, and then die down to blaze again. No people can be seen. The mystery of this light, of what lies at the end of the dirt road, or over the hill, is what first struck me and continues to pull me back.

All photos ©Nina Berman 2011, All Rights Reserved

10 thoughts on “Fracking – the night sky”

  1. That is incredible, Nina…and so smart. That one very orange photo, taken at dusk or just
    after??? really shows the amount of pollution in the air, and that xmas-decorated house/yard and the joy of it is really diminished by the bright lights on the gas wells. Thanks for continuing to work on this important project, Nina. And happiest of holidays to you, darling. Maggie

    1. Hi Maggie

      The first photo, the orange one, was taken hours after dusk, the sky appears dark and a bit murky, and in the distance you can see the flare. At a 5 second exposure, the sky brightens, glows orange, like it’s on fire, or it’s sunrise. Thanks for taking a look darling and will call you in the next few days. xoNina

  2. It is rare that anyone shows the beauty of industrial development the way you do. Your photos are real winners and they inspire me to go out one of these evenings to shoot similar images, as I live only a few miles from equally impressive steel industry.
    I disagree with Steber Maggie though: there is no pollution at all visible in your first photo, just an impressive orange glow.
    Never mind, I love your photos.

  3. The quote on my fb page ….
    Man has lost the capacity to forestall and foresee. In the end he will destroy the earth…
    Albert Einstien

  4. Great photos – I have really enjoyed the winter nights on the way to work – fracing. The Christmas lights on rural farms, drilling rigs shining like Christmas trees, and the frac site – brightly light – guiding the way. No pollution – due to flaring. Just the night crystal clear against the cold nad snow. Thanks for taking the time to record the night

  5. Nina..thank for your commentary and your vivid pictures…we would like to post some but will not do so without your permission!! Your a through firsthand account that news agencies just don’t capture as effectively as you do.

    Thank you for your work..

    Your new friends at Highland Lumberland Concerned Citizens

  6. Thank you, Nina, for all you are doing to show us what is happening on the ground in Gasland, PA.

    As a painter, I’ve had a focus on nocturnes for many years. Koos Fernhout’s comment brought to mind the work of the 19th-century painter Aaron Gorson looking at the steel industry, who also concentrated on night views.

    I’ve looked at many of your photos of communities impacted by industrial shale gas development, and the nocturnes seem especially powerful. It’s interesting to me how they communicate the scale of the activity taking place, though it is often out of the picture. I appreciate how this happens in your photos. In contrast to the straight-out glorification of technology shown in Gorson’s paintings, you show the world around the giant, and how it relates to the source of the activity. The photo on this page showing the road and little trees almost looks like a diorama, though we know it is not. Many have the quality of the scene being an interior, even though it is not (particularly a woodland road image on your Noor site). What a really good way to evoke the enormity of the activity that illuminates your scene and how it dwarfs its surroundings. It dwarfs us.

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