Solitude of a Night in Prague

I’ve never welcomed the darkness as much as tonight. The isolation clears my head; this solitude of nothingness, paraphrasing the philosophy of the Dao de Jing, …holds everything.

Such silence is rare here on the streets of one of Europe’s oldest cities, where in the daytime each passing second arrives quicker than the last. At this hour, however, time essentially stands still.

The shadow of night creeps through my body, its blackness cloaking my soul to reveal a calmness lacking the past few months.  The lights, blinding during the day, become relief at this hour.  An hour of perception.  An hour of contrast, of paradox.

All encasing a world I seldom visit; deep into the night where elegance and vulgarity sit side-by-side on a curb, fused together through their unique naïveté by the darkness that surrounds.

The grace and coarseness of their melody illuminates who I was, who I am, and who I could become.  Joined with the ghosts of the night, wisdom blooms within the lyrics and by dawn, a new world is created.

These ghosts are to be experienced, neither seen nor touched.  Only deep in the night can their harmonies be heard.

Midnight in Prague, sparkling after a rain, contains calm and chaos, energy and weariness, warmth and chill ~ a place where pixies of the light romance with trolls of the dark.

Simple contrasts scattered around life, demonstrate without one there is no other.  Only through darkness can we understand the light.

Darkness fascinates with its intriguing dance with light.  Either they embrace and find balance or scurry away deep into the recesses of life, waiting for another chance to become one.

There is joy in the depths of night.  A thrill found in the blurred line between light and dark.  Photography can enlighten the dark corners where most people avoid, revealing exceptional dimensions of everyday life.  Understanding contrast allows the mind to accurately interpret the world around us.

Dark and light, good and evil, pain and pleasure, man and woman. Embracing these polarizations ensures a rich life.  Be wary of those who pit one against another, their intent is to distort reality.  There is great value in grasping the thread of similarities between extremes, all which bind humanity together.

Nothing is either good or bad.  Churning within us all is something bright and noble dancing with something dark and dangerous.  And as with the purity of light, the human soul can only be cleansed by the deep darkness of life.

Grainy memories of wandering the streets are encounters I treasure.  I’ve enough experience to know within the darkness, flashes of illusions and imagination roam freely.  It is often within the dankest quarters of life where the heart begins to beat with the energy to ignite dreams undiscovered.

Mastering this balance makes the transformation possible. Where to begin to discover this magical place?

The need, the want and the fear, along with virtuosity can plunge a soul deep into exploring the murky and hidden pieces of life.  Unknown darkness, once recognized, reveals a glistening new view of life, a mystery uncovered.

History has long shown people in power pitting light against dark; exploiting the unfounded dangers within the contrasts of life. Exclaiming misconstrued extremes should be pushed into the depths of darkness, to be forgotten.  This is the gravest error, for understanding differences expands the mind and creates value where before there was only fear.

Throughout the day, tweets of the irrelevant flood the brain.  A thousand pieces of delicate chaos cuts away at reason.  It is in the rare solitude of night when the mind is able to breathe. Those simple words: inhale, exhale. The moment when chaos and solitude overlap, lightness and darkness come together with the realization of their interdependence.

When life is in balance, inspiration flows.  The conscious and unconscious weaves the thread of dependence between extremes and the blur of life slows.  Words form, new ideas take root and soon the faint whispers of the old streets come to life and a new journey begins.

Easy to fall in love here.  To fall for life.  To fall for the darkness.

A soft rain adds to the ambiance and I take a long look across the river to the thousand-year-old Bohemian fortress and imagine the incredible stories it could tell ~ knowing too, within, I hold tales and secrets to match.

Solitude of a night in Prague is to be embraced, to be absorbed.

 

212 Comments on “Solitude of a Night in Prague

  1. Pingback: Solitude of a Night in Prague ~ Randall Collis | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  2. ” Only through Darkness can we understand light”…. So, so true Randall
    Its appearance comes to show us the shadows, the wrinkles in the dark corners.
    Two worlds evolving entwined within the same fabric of a city.. Yet separated by the veil of dimensions of light and dark.. Day and Night..

    Life is unfolding in every moment, everywhere, in cities as well as on top of mountains and deep within the oceans.. All seemingly worlds apart.. Yet all part of the whole..

    It depends upon which dimension we are in.. To that which we see…
    You are wise.. To see between the lies of those whose intent it is to create and manifest mayhem..

    All holds light and dark and all the shades between.. It’s not until we have been shown our own dark pits that we understand we need the darkness to illuminate us to the light within..

    Fear is a tool used to keep those from exiting their shadow world..
    We live in a world created by such illusions, from those wishing to remain in control..

    But when one does not fear the dark night.. One then begins to see beauty in every corner.. That all came and give of their own light, whether it be for the night or day… So that others may expand their own horizon to see the Light of a New Dawn..

    From my own personal experiences.. I have lived through inner darkness that at times swept me to end it all.. But only through experiencing that dark tunnel that took time in travelling through, did I emerge at my destination.. To alight and see from a different perspective, that turned Dusk into Dawn..

    As you may tell Randall, I so enjoyed your narrative and your amazing photography..

    Stay Blessed my friend..
    Sue 🙂 💚

    • I like the way you say “Two worlds evolving entwined within the same fabric of a city…” The duality found throughout life is one of those things I love to contemplate, to make sense of such extremes; to make peace within what appears to be so complicated. Put together, all these things in the end make things whole. Extremes are nothing to fear unless the focus is rigid and because of fear, one refuses to look elsewhere for balance. Without balance, control is impossible. Without balance, many great opportunities with pass by without notice and growth will be stunted. The darkness of night, of life, in contrast to the light seems to be a perfect analogy for the battles of understanding the extremes around us. Thank you very much for such a thoughtful comment, Sue, and how you have experience such a process. Wishing you a great weekend.

      • Thank you Randall… I so enjoy reading through your own thought process you enhance so visibly with your excellent photography..
        Its only like the worlds within worlds we do not see in existence.. Because we can not see them does not mean they do not exist.. We are after all vibrational energy, each resonating within our certain frequencies.. We have understand we all hold a positive and a negative circuitry,. Learning to be in balance is the key… The world right now is going to experience some turbulence because it has become out of balance.. Nature is putting back what was put out of balance long ago… We are all of us going to see humongous changes.. But the old ways are not serving our evolution so the old has to be cleared to make way for the new… When we begin to understand this, and alter our perception as to the way of the world and how our mind and body works.. We then open our hearts to a new reality.. But we have to go within to change how we think, for it is what we think that changes our outer world of reality. And if we keep thinking within the perimeters of fear, we will keep living within it.. So I totally agree with you Randall, in what you said…
        Much love and you too enjoy your weekend.. ❤

    • Yes, this is the one effect I very much enjoy with night shooting and playing with aperture, the long exposures can bring out the interesting pieces of a scene where sometimes we simply do not see when rushing around. Enjoy the weekend ahead.

      • You as well my friend. I’ve missed your stunning photos. Despite the fact it still says I am following you, the posts haven’t been getting through. I have searched but I guess not enough. I was so glad you stopped by! Thanks again.

  3. I know the hour of paradox very well. I lived there for so long that I finally had to leave it. There is something unsettling about Prague’s beauty. Like a golden cage of sorts. I prefer cities more lives in and soulful. Hard to explain. 😊

    • Hi Martina, I can understand your mixed emotions with Prague ~ I love the city, but in a sense it is like a gilded cage. I live in a small village about 75km south of Prague and the countryside is such a different place, and they view the big city differently as well. I think the run of tourist during the summer months gives off a strange vibe for the city, but the one thing it has plenty of is history and stories and this is what I love about it. Wishing you a great week ahead.

      • I should’ve done this 4 years back. Looong overdue, I’m sorry. And I’ll keep on stopping by from now on. 😁

  4. Thank you for sharing some wonderful photos of Prague at night. 💛 It brings back memories of my missing the last public transport from the fortress and walking through the city at night. Despite the dark and light, I felt safe there.

    Your reflections always touch me. We both have been thinking about finding life in flow and what balance means to us. The constant shift of yin and yang, darkness and light , feminine and masculine reminds me of the need for flow in all our lives. We cannot have one with out the other, so let us not forget to embrace them both fully.
    And yes, Prague is such a great example of this. ☯️

    • It seems when something goes awry during travels, such as missing a bus or something, often a new experience and great memory is the result 🙂 Agree with the safety of Prague, I’ve always felt safe on its streets no matter how late. Very much agree with you ~ balance is essential for happiness, for getting the most from life and so easy to forget about one end of the spectrum when infatuated with the opposite…good to step back and get the full picture. Wish you a great week ahead, Val, thank you.

  5. Thank you for the night in Prague. I have had a few days there but being an early to bed early to rise person I never saw it as you did, not that I have your eye even if we stood side by side. I love the image ‘where elegance and vulgarity sit side-by-side’. Yes; that is Prague and that is the world.

    • Thank you Mary, you make a very good point about perspective. Many times I have shot with another photographer, often the same scene but when viewing each other’s photos we are always amazed at how we viewed the scene so differently ~ I’m sure if I went out there again, I’d come back with a totally different take on the city. But one shot we both agree upon is the “where elegance and vulgarity sit side-by-side” as such scenes are fantastic and are all around this world of ours. Cheers ~

  6. Incredible. I always desperately await your posts as they are so intriguing and deep in reflection accompanied by gorgeous words and photography. Thank you. I am usually sleeping at midnight but getting out and exploring the darkness is amazing. To see a city at night and capture it so beautifully.

    • Thank you Nicole, being able to view and experience the depth of the night is becoming more difficult to accomplish these days, but when the opportunity comes there is nothing quite like it. Every city I think has such an interested side when the solitude of night takes over.

  7. Welcome back, Randall! Your prose and the marvelous pictures of Prague are very impressive as always. Maybe you don’t post often, but when you do it is a real treat for your readers!

  8. Ah! That delicate balance of opposites that leave us somewhere in the middle, at times with understanding and sometimes not, but always there is something to learn!
    Thanks for this beautiful essay that that not only spoke truth with words and wonderful photos, but with the energy of love. You always deliver the full experience and I am grateful to be able to partake.
    Sweet Blessings, friend!

    • Thank you, Lorrie. It seems life is always throwing us one way or another, but every now and then we get enough balance to see all the opportunities for us out there and it makes life perfect ~ if only briefly 🙂 I agree fully, there is always something to learn and that is part of the fun. Cheers to a great day!

  9. Breathtaking night photography!
    Never a truer word spoken… “Be wary of those who pit one against another, their intent is to distort reality.” Amen to that.

    • When politicians, businessmen, or even the media begins trying to push attention one way ~ it is important to look the other way to gain a greater perspective 🙂 Thank you very much, Inese, wishing you well.

  10. splendid photos… btw, been to Prague twice – before 1990 and after, just love “IT”!!! ❤

    • Thank you, Mélanie, next time you are there, give me a call ~ the city has so much to offer.

  11. Extraordinary shots… night make those moments more special… the lights, the whole atmosphere seems magical… beautiful gallery, dear Dalo. Sending love and best wishes… happy week 😘👍💛

    • Yes, sometimes the nightime hold more life and emotions than the busy daytime, and with the rain and empty streets it made it seem even more magical. Thank you, Aquileana, wish you a happy week too.

    • Thank you very much, Notes. Your husband is a great photographer of the night too ~ a great time to capture such different sets of emotions. Cheers to a good week ahead.

  12. Lovely photos. Prague must be one of the most picturesque cities I have been to. I started to photograph a building in the old town only to realise the next and next and next were just a beautiful. In Prague, it pays off to be up late or out early for your photography. Try going to Cesky Krumlov next time you’re in the area, it’s supposed to be just as beautiful.

    • I’d have to agree with you ~ every street has a scene which is a marvel, especially with great lighting. I had a break from work earlier this year and headed to Cesky Krumlov, and it was incredible. Very much a ‘small Prague’ appeal, and great people. My next adventure may be in Kutná Hora, based on your last post, it looks pretty special. Thank you, Lignum.

      • My pleasure Randall. You are, by far, the best photographer on WordPress. Have a great week yourself.

      • Ha, now these words will get me through this Monday and beyond. ☺️ Cheers…

      • I never say what I don’t mean and your prose are rather poetic. A lovely combination. Bonne semain. 🙂

  13. Randall, this is the most amazing post I have ever read. The richness and depth of your writing, complemented by your remarkable photos, were too much for me to comprehend in one pass. Only now, after having read it a third time, do I feel capable of commenting. I will revisit this post again and again.

    • Your words have a great, positive impact, Jane, thank you very much. For as quiet of a night as this was, it had so much to say. About the world, about its history, about the surrounding, and then perhaps most about myself. A great exploration of the dichotomies we have within us all, and how hard it is to find balance ~ which is part of this wonderful journey of life. Thank you again.

  14. I love strolling through a city at night-time; as you poetically put it, that’s when one experiences the harmony of ghosts.

    • Seeing a city at night, give the opportunity to understand another side of the place ~ to see the full personality of a place. Thank you very much.

  15. Exquisitely written. You drew me into your exploration- of the city, your perspective, your light and dark…

    “The shadow of night creeps through my body, its blackness cloaking my soul to reveal a calmness lacking the past few months…deep into the night where elegance and vulgarity sit side-by-side on a curb, fused together through their unique naïveté by the darkness that surrounds.”

    You, my friend, have a way with words. 🙂

    • To be able to draw a reader into the exploration, whether it is a tale about adventure or statement of philosophy, it one of the best compliments I could imagine. Thank you very much, Brooke. The Prague night and its darkness were the perfect partners with this piece, it is where elegance (Prague) and vulgarity (ahem, yours truly) were able to sit side-by-side 🙂 Cheers to a great week ahead.

      • It’s well-earned, and I don’t hand them out lightly. 🙂
        I have similar thoughts written about Paris. Sometimes it’s the same perspective, other times it’s the reverse…such is the human experience, it seems.
        Hope yours is great, as well! 🙂

      • Thank you, Brooke. I could definitely see Paris having a similar feel ~ and very true, our perspective can vary as much as the weather 🙂 Cheers.

  16. How much I understand you, Randall. Your words echo deeply within my own frame, words that embrace the Journey I walk. Just yesterday for the first time in probably over a year, I had a moment of Bliss, of such intense NOW-ness, my entire body/mind at ease. I felt the beauty around me and melted into it. This used to be an ordinary experience for me all the time. Yet, life has detoured from that Bliss to give me huge growing opportunities. I sense great challenges in your walk yet within those challenges and darkness, new awareness rises, like the new dawn. As we both know, it is within the dark we know the Light, for without the dark, there is no light. I am deeply moved emotionally by your writing. You touch my soul, a place in me that not too many people know. Yet you do.

    Your photographs are exceptional, Randall. Sublime. Your long exposures motivate me to lug out my tripod and do some shooting in the dark. However, by the time dark does arrive, this body is ready to rest having such tough days. The right time and place will arrive. You inspire me to create MY WAY as you create your way. Your talent in both prose and photo take my breath away. I will be coming back to this post again just to view it again. You’ve tugged my soul as you write me. Bless you! 🌹

    • Thank you, Amy, every now and then I’ll have an idea of a ling exposure shoot and it is fun to shake the dust off the tripod and give it a go. The Prague night scene had been calling me for a while, so it was fun when everything came together and I was able to head out and shoot. There is always a bit of a process for me to shoot with a tripod these days, and it is usually a storyline I’ve created/experienced in my mind that I want to also try to capture on film. Look forward to your future long exposure shots.

  17. Your words never fail to leave a mark and your pictures are stunning. I can truly relate to this post. I used to enjoy the night, and the solitude that darkness brought along. The dark night can inspire the imagination and no wonder so many legends are born out of imaginary creatures from the dark. But, I am slowly turning to the light. After spending so many days in gloomy weather, I yearn for the sun, and the light it brings along. 🙂

    • This night, it was very interesting as I’ve captured pre-dawn photos and late night photos, but this time it was in-between those two ‘hours’ and had a much richer darkness to it. A unique experience. Pre-dawn is still my favorite time, part because it is still so dark, but when the light starts waking up, the magic of the two blending together is simply beautiful. 🙂 Wishing you both a great weekend ahead.

      • That’s such an interesting combination. I never thought of it that way. The night sky looks gorgeous outside the city with the stars and Milky Way (if you’re lucky). After 2 sunrises in Indonesia, I’ve grown to the pre-dawn sky. It is magical when the sun slowly creeps into the night. 🙂

  18. Wonderful…
    …and amazing to see Prague that empty, as it is always crawling with tourists.

    • While I had expected fewer people out at night, I think the rain and cooler weather really worked in my favor. I was pleasantly surprised with how empty the streets were, such a contrast to the chaos of the daytime. Thanks, Rabirius, enjoy the weekend ahead.

  19. There is a lovely composition of light captured in your photos. Your pictures reminded me of Hrabal’s ‘Too loud a Solitude’. Now I feel like reading his books again.

    • Thank you, Melissa. I will have to find a copy of Hrabal’s ‘Too loud a Solitude’ and give it a read, I’m intrigued 🙂 Enjoy the week ahead.

  20. Dear Randall, this is another beautiful post to grace your blog. This series of photos has a very dreamlike quality to it. The night has provided a very subdued and surreal world free of commotion, an ideal place to find solace. Please enjoy your time in Prague. Take good care. ~ Mia

    • Hi Mia, agree completely. The night offers a temporary reprieve from a the chaos of the day, gives us time to collect our thoughts and move forward. Thank you very much for your wishes, just arrived back in Prague today 🙂 Wish you a great day, take care ~ Randall

      • Thank you for a lovely reply, Randall. Enjoy being back for however long that lasts. 🙂 Please take good care of yourself and have a terrific rest of the week. ~ Mia

  21. Did you see the church of bones? A friend told me about it. Such a wonderful, romantic post about Prague. I like the dawn and dusk photos so it is focused on the environment and out of hours life.

    • Thank you, Charlotte, I not yet seen the Bone Church but plan to visit Kutna Hora where it is located…looking forward to seeing this city and church. Wishing you a great end to the summer.

  22. Always wonderful to peek into the mysteries of life you create, Randall. Walking through Prague at night through your beautiful images makes me believe that new worlds are, indeed, created by dawn – while we still hold on to our tales and secrets.

    • Great to hear from you, Helen, and I think the one great things about visiting place ~ either new or discovered again after time ~ allows us to reflect and create something new for the days ahead. Wishing you a great ending to your summer 🙂

  23. You’ve been away a long time. This darkness shows the side of you which understands the exhale needed and time taken to process. Reality doesn’t always positively encourage, however, those streets beg for a traveler. Glad you made it, Randall. Hope you are well. Glad to see you here.

    • How time can pass so quickly ~ nothing like a good inhale and exhale to set the world right again. While the summer was excellent, I always look forward to my favorite time of the year (fall), both for colors and a different change of pace 🙂 Thank you very much and wishing you a great coming weekend, Audacious ~ 😉

  24. Incidentally, I was visiting Prague last month, but never found the streets completely desolated as you have been able to capture here. Maybe I didn’t say up long enough, or got up early enough… Anyway your images are gorgeous, they reveal the condensed atmosphere in this very special European city. And it’s such a delight to read you poetic text.

    • Ha, yes the contrast of the streets of Prague in the late hours of night/early hours of morning was a scene I never could have imagined. This feeling, alone in the heart of the city, made for a comfortable stroll of shooting and reflecting 🙂 Thank you, Otto. Much to discover here in the Old World.

  25. Prague is so beautiful, and again you have staged and rendered the city in a very mystical and mysterious way. Beautiful pictures, the long exposures are magnificent. It could also be called a fulfilling loneliness ……. great, also the text ……. Have a great time.

    • There are so many beautiful and historic cities in Europe, and the solitude of this night in Prague was just as you described “a fulfilling loneliness” and showed a side of itself I had never imagined. Thank you, Ariane, and wishing you a wonderful finish to the summer.

  26. Easy to fall for the darkness… it’s in our nature. In the city though, it seems something threatening, something out there oppressive and overwhelming that the city lights keep at bay. Out in the country, it’s somehow wholesome, benign, it belongs. The only light comes from the stars and moon. No manmade light compares to that. When that light is obscured by thick cloud the darkness is absolute. The first time you experience that feeling when you cant see your hand in front of your face is terrifying. I couldnt sleep. Now I embrace it. It’s not the dark which is dangerous but the monsters which hide within it, and you only find monsters where there are people.

    Dark thoughts? Not really. Life comes from the darkness of the womb, the darkness of the earth. The ancient Irish used to start their day at dusk, their year at the dark of winter. The light of inspiration enters the dark recesses of the brain like a flash of lightning. We have to know the dark to appreciate the light.

    Lovely post, really made me think. 😊

    • Yes, darkness in the city and darkness in the countryside both have something to offer ~ yet very different. Growing up in the countryside, during the summer there was nothing better than to sleep outside with such clear stars and the moon overhead. The darkness was there, but the comfort of the stars and moon made it alright.

      Your comments on dark thoughts is perfect. The wisdom of the past saying something along the lines of “it isn’t the darkness around you should be worried about, rather it’s the darkness within.” And I love the idea of the ancient Irish starting their day at dusk. The darkness around us is the unknown, the mystery, and it is where to search and discover answers. Thank you very much, Ali, wishing you well.

  27. Your photography really captures the beauty of the darkness and your words increase the feelings of being out in the night.

    • Thank you very much, Roslyn, it was one of these perfect nights that come along every so often. Cheers ~

    • Thank you for the very nice words, Flavia. Prague has many faces depending on season, weather and perspective ~ and I think the night view was something not often seen 🙂 Wishing you a great weekend ahead, cheers!

  28. A beautiful city, the subject of one of my favourite photographer’s books, Josef Sudek’s Prague Panoramic. Wonderful to see the city photographed at night.

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