In his series Villes éteintes (Darkened Cities), French photographer Thierry Cohen imagines the world’s biggest cities at night without urban light.
Cohen uses a special exposure technique called day for night which enables him to capture the cities in the daytime but increases darkness levels. Then, he combines the city skylines into the backdrop of starry skies captured at the same altitude.
“By combining two realities, I am making a third that you cannot see … but it exists! I am showing you the missing stars,” Cohen told Wired.
“Photography is a way of showing things that we can’t see. Photography is a way to dream. I am not showing you post-apocalyptic cities, merely cities without electricity. I am bringing back the silence.”
What cities would look like if lit only by the stars
What appears to be an eerie blackout in some of the world’s biggest cities (Hong Kong, LA, New York, Paris, Rio, Shanghai, Tokyo) nonetheless creates a beautiful mirage.
“Photography is about poetry more than it is about reality,” added Cohen. “It is how you see the world. You can show the world you want to show.” See more images on the artist’s website.