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.


255 Comments on “Solitude of a Night in Prague

    • Thank you very much Christopher, I’m very much in agreement, Prague is special and nothing quite like finding pieces of the city to share with others. Cheers!

    • Sometimes it seems like a dream I was able to see the city so late, after rain and so few people. One of the more relaxing moments ~ thanks, Sue. Wish you a great summer.

  1. Pingback: Solitude of a Night in Prague | SueCharltonDotCom

  2. Stunning nighttime photos of Prague. The second to the last photo is especially wonderful with lights and shadows playing on the water through the aches of the bridges and from the edges of the riverbanks.

    • My original plan was to head over to that bridge and shoot the Charles Bridge with all the reflective lights ~ but was enjoying my little area so much I never did venture over there. Any city at night is a sight to see. Thanks, Timothy, and hope all is going well.

  3. Dear Dalo, you’re in Prague and you’re still alive … that means you have not drinking absinthe yet?! 😀

      • Dear Dalo, if you survived absinthe, it means that you escaped from the first major danger in Europe … congratulations … the second biggest danger in Europe is to drive through Bucharest … please do not risk this …you will not survive! 😀

      • Ha, ha, I am actually hoping to be in Romania later in the autumn. Will have to give the Bucharest roads a try 🙂

      • Your only chance of survival is me … tell me when you come, to take vacation from my work! 😀

      • 🙂 Will do, look forward to seeing the city.
        Enjoy the rest of your week.

  4. LOL re The absinthe 😊. Good to see you back Andrew. Your images and text are pure poetry. You’ve captured the essence as always

    • Ha, ha ~ yes, absinthe is a perfect line 🙂 I had a late dinner in Prague, and didn’t want to drive back to my place in the countryside so decided to bring my camera just in case I wanted to chase the shadows ~ a light rain, few people, made it a perfect night out. Cheers, Tina, and thank you!

  5. A beautiful piece Randall. An ode to the night and an ode to the darkness within us all. If we could but acknowledge and embrace it we would all shine a little brighter.
    Your words and your photos both made me want to be there. As a woman it’s more of a risk to wander alone after dark, late at night, yet I crave to know this time, to see the places I visit in this still, spacious arena when almost everyone sleeps, and almost all the lights are out making those that are left shine even brighter.

    • Thank you very much Alison, there is something about walking alone at night in a city with so much history – it is impossible not to dream a little bit 🙂 Best part, the few people I met along the way from all parts of life were all incredible – as if we were all in this together. Wishing you a great August.

    • Prague is a city with something for everyone, especially the ease of being able to step outside the city and into the great Czech countryside. You’ll be amazed when you do visit 🙂 Thank you, Suzanne, wish you a great summer.

  6. Wonderful photos Randall! Clearly, you’ve found some balance and integration of light and dark in yourself and photos. I so enjoy your unique and philosophical musings on life through photography. It’s nice to see you back online. I’d love to explore Prague and other European cities of my ancestors. blessings, Brad

    • The differences in the interpretations of extremes is something I’ve been fascinated by for quite a while. How two people, so perfectly matched, can have one area (politics being the most apparent recently) where their contrasting views can cause a serious fall out ~ it is not logical. Stepping back and seeing each view in context, it becomes easier to see the differences are not great ~ and extremes become more manageable. Brad, you’d fall in love with the homes of your ancestors, while so different from home it contains the threads of who you are – and you may never want to leave 🙂 Prague is an amazing city, and if you find yourself on the way let me know…many more dark streets to discover. Cheers to a great remaining summer.

      • Thanks Randall. I agree that we divide ourselves far too easily. I’d love to visit Prague and other cities of my ancestors. 🙂

  7. Hi Randall, You have found and shown me the joy in the depths of night in beautiful and intriguing Prague. Your night compositions of the rainy streets are thoughtful and a celebration of how photography teaches people to see. Welcome back!

    • Feels great to be back ~ missed the camera and missed the writing. Being able to capture the streets of Prague after/during a rain was serendipitous, the one night I had free to venture into the city after midnight. Thank you, Jane, wish you a great August.

  8. Nights in a historic city are more magical than the day. Sights, sounds are different and exploring takes on a more leisurely pace. Wonderful images, Randall!

    • I definitely agree with this, the night offers a richer environment to watch and listen to the city ~ it is much more relaxing, people moving around at a leisurely pace. Thank you Eliza, and wishing you a great weekend ahead.

  9. You’ve a gift for pictures, both photograph and written word varieties.

  10. Sweet as a starburst, you shine like the sun beams, Randall. 🙂
    Always a joy to see another post from the most brilliant photographer I’ve never met.
    Triple AAA kudos on all these quietly taken evening shots in the dark. May you ever go deeper, my friend.

    • Those shining diamonds in the middle of the night always tend to get to me 🙂 There is nothing quite like the darkness of the night to get the mind thinking and the camera clicking ~ much to see and experience. Cheers, my friend, to a great weekend ahead.

  11. Wonderful narrative of the night in Prague.. This “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.” to me is the part that digs deep in expressing how our minds intertwine with every thing around but can’t come to true realization until this moment.

    Excellent pictures and I love how you presented grainy images so beautifully!

    • There were several moments during this night I sat back and just inhaled and exhaled. Every action we take, Newton’s third law take over, there is an opposite and equal reaction. This alone is the importance of understanding extremes, because there is an unbreakable thread of connection between. You quote one of my underlying feelings when experience and writing about this night, thank you very much for this. We simply cannot understand how intertwined we are with ‘life’ that it is best to give ‘life’ the benefit of doubt and try to understand instead of fight. Very happy you enjoyed the post and the photos 🙂

  12. Light and dark cannot coexist and yet, we need both to understand ourselves and the polarity of life. Beautiful writing Randall. Your travels and reflections always open our minds to see more. Glad to hear from you. 🌅

    • Thank you, Karen, one thing I will never take for granted is the infinite number of learning experiences that await right outside the door. Wishing you a wonderful weekend and a great finish to the summer.

  13. Your posts are always a treat and you’ve captured the night beautifully.
    I especially liked… “elegance and vulgarity sit side-by-side on a curb”.

    • The night was almost perfect for getting out and seeing a different side of the city, and there was this feeling of everyone coming together no matter of the differences, the line you mention fit the evening perfectly. Thank you, Maverick. Wish you a good week ahead.

  14. Nicely done. You’ve captured the night and the things that give it light; in photos, in words, and in spirit. And of course, Prague.

    • There is nothing quite like diving in between the different areas of a day/night, it keeps life interesting and opens the mind. Night shooting can be quite difficult at times, but I always learn quite a few things 🙂 Cheers, Dave, and thank you.

  15. That 3rd image is just brilliant. Such atmosphere and so interesting in composition. So little light on the musician and yet……just perfect for the scene you captured.

    • You’ve picked my favorite image 🙂 It summed up much of what I was feeling all during the night, how diversified the city/world can be, but we all fit in it so well ~ and there is such goodness out there to be discovered. Thank you very much Vicki, wish you well.

  16. Beautiful words and photos. There is something relaxing about walking around a city at night, isn’t there? It always clears my head too. Taking photo with a tripod forces you to slow down and think.

    • I agree, Jeff, a city at night time has a very peaceful vibe ~ there is no rush and long exposures requires patience, which is perfect for slowing down and thinking. Thank you very much, wish you a great week ahead.

  17. As a nocturnal person, I read this post with every bit of interests. The philosophical words of Dao de Jing caught me solitude of nothingness…holds everything. Such a profound phrase, in that we might be able to find something out of nothing. There’s just something mysterious yet comforting about the night and darkness. As you touched upon, it’s a time where you might reflect on who you were, who you are right now and who do you want to be – there is so many uncertainties yet so many possibilities.

    Darkness and lightness go together hand-in-hand, and yes , the thrill of it…both exist side by side as you demonstrate so well in your images. Contrast brings about difference, and difference can actually work together if we let each be – like how we should let each other be so we may all get along and learn from one another.

    Chaos and solitude overlapping…haven’t given much thought to that until now but I guess it’s a possibility. With chaos we might want some peace and with solitude we might want to stir things up and get going. Amazing long exposures, Randall. Top stuff as usual. Wherever you are, take care 🙂

    • The darkness of night is mysterious, and I think this is the attraction. To see and experience something a bit rare in life. I’ve become such a morning person these days which makes nights like this one in Prague special. Early mornings have their appeal too, and the mood is so different than that of the night. Dawn is the more transitive period of the day, where dark melds into light (or vice versa), and it gives me energy to start the day ~ such a shift from my earlier years and being more nocturnal. I could imagine you being a night person by nature – it is a very reflective period to sum up the day and for a writer such as yourself, perfect. Hope things continue to go well for you, enjoy the week and thank you, Mabel.

      • To see and experience something can indeed be something rare in life. Sometimes these moments are just sparks and can only be felt. You, a morning person…hard to believe and I’m more inclined to think you are still nocturnal and instead you wake up for something as that something drives you to amidst your grogginess that you will always feel, and that is something powerful 😀 I am definitely nocturnal and feel I will always will be…though I’ve been waking up at 5am these days going back to nocturnal hours is so easy 😀😀

      • Insightful, and you may be right. Waking up early gives me the feeling of attacking the day, which does drive me. However, like you, I do like the peacefulness of night. It is easy for me to get into the swing of a night-owl too 🙂

      • I am very much convinced night and you get along much better and you won’t betray the nocturnals 🙂 Keep enjoying the peace, Randall 🙂

  18. “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.”

    So beautiful, Randall!!! I hope you can see the planet Mars from where you are. I’ve never seen it so BIG and RED as this summer, in California, above the Southeastern sky. Beckoning. Intriguing. Calling me to wonder in ways I’ve never wondered before. Like the light of a love, long lost. Now found, but fleeting. Fleeing. Soon to be hiding from my sights, again . . . Bittersweet.

    The horses are swift. The saddles, secure. Sit loose in the saddle of Life, and enjoy the ride :)) Dawn

    • Thank you Dawn, nothing quite like looking up into the night sky and wondering… 🙂
      I wish I could see the night skies and Mars, to bring back the memories old and wondering what new ones are out there. Your advice is good, ‘sit loose in the saddle of life and enjoy the ride…’ Wishing you a great week ahead.

      • Yes! Mars has been like a lover in the sky this summer. Mars on one end, Venus the other — and now the waxing moon between! Best to you, always :))

    • Thank you, Sidran. Those brooding shadows are where we learn to shine like the sun 🙂
      Cheers to a great week ahead.

  19. Magical!
    “The moment when chaos and solitude overlap . . . ” Love the line and how your photos manage to capture that perfect dance of darkness and lightness.

    • I’ve always enjoyed the transitory periods of a day, short in time but they seem to hold the best and most mysterious light 🙂 Thank you, Jolandi.

      • I completely agree, Randall. I often wish I could string them together to fill more hours, but I guess that they would then lose some of their mystery and beauty.

  20. Very lyrical essay on the various dualities of existence. Cities at night can be such a contrast with the bustle of the day. I have enjoyed that too only not so far from home!! Love the nighttime images!

    • Thank you very much, Judy, and there is not a better way to enjoy a city then to understand it at both extremes (day vs night). A good life, I believe, needs to embrace the dualities we encounter every day 🙂 Wish you a great finish to the summer.

  21. Such beautiful images, Randall! And a timely message – even the inhale and exhale are opposites, and need each other. They’re not opposed, they’re bound. I like the 3rd, 7th & 9th photographs especially. I hope you’re enjoying the summer!

    • Agree 100% with you. With so many people taking sides, often refusing to hear the logic of the other side, it becomes more important to understand the uniting threads of truth. Seems an almost impossible task with tolerance at such a low point… Your description of the inhale and exhale is so spot on, bound by the rules of life (without this, we die). The summer is going by a bit too quickly for me, but it has been enjoyable. Thank you, Lynn, and wishing you a great week.

  22. Stunning images and I love the accompamying text. I’ve never been to Prague but I’d love to visit it one (or night). Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Hi Mary, thank you very much ~ the text seemed to flow from the night 🙂 Prague is such a beautiful city, I suppose all European cities appeal to me because of their history…deep and complex, unlike the cities in the States 🙂 Wishing you a great finish to your summer, take care.

  23. I didn’t think it was possible for me to miss Prague more than I already do. Damn you. 😁The shimmer of the rain-soaked streets, the mysterious silhouettes, the golden shadows. What incredible luck to have the Charles Bridge all to yourself. You have captured Prague’s true essence through your photos and words. Nowhere else is the darkness so enchanting. When I wandered those shadowy streets whispering my tales and secrets, I always felt so understood.

    “The human soul can only be cleansed by the deep darkness of life.” This is alchemy. It feels as though the spirits of the alchemists were by your side. You are never truly alone there. The shadow side is not to be rejected or feared, but embraced and loved as part of who we are. Rejection and shame bring attachment and addiction. Stagnation. In our shadows we find the missing pieces that we need to evolve. With acceptance and love comes the balance necessary for transmutation.Your words appear at just the right time for me. So good to read someone who not only gets it, but has the courage to live it. Grateful for your presence, Dalo. Cheers to love, life, and darkness. ✨

    • 🙂 I think Prague will always draw people back who have had the opportunity to experience her fully ~ the only option is to make a return 🙂 The rain on this evening was almost a gift, as I think it also helped clear the Charles Bridge and along with the darkness it was a very surreal feeling. I didn’t want to head back, rather just absorb everything around me. The stories this city could tell…

      I like how you say “In our shadows we find the missing pieces that we need to evolve.” At times in life, it gets so easy to focus on one piece of life that we automatically disregard anything opposing. We become less tolerant and we become less balanced. It is good to step back every now and then to reassess where we stand and if changes need to be made…and then continue the course 🙂 Cheers to love, life and darkness ✨ 🙂

  24. For some reason this post reminded me of my own dark moments not long after I graduated from university. Luckily it didn’t take too long to me to realize that I the only way to rebound was not to focus on the negative things in life but rather on what lies ahead which is filled with opportunities. Your photos of night time in Prague are magical, Randall! Indeed, to capture such calm atmosphere of a place we have to get out when others have returned to the warmth and coziness of their beds.

    • Focusing on what lies ahead, which is filled with opportunities ~ this is an excellent reply Bama. Opportunities become more readily available the more we see/understand ~ and this only happens when we are tolerant, open and see the extremes around us. I think in this age, where it seems people focus on one extreme and refuse to let in any other light of an idea that may be different. This cuts off growth, understanding and eventually great opportunities to grow. Slowing down, listening to others and seeing difference can make such a positive difference. Sometimes, the night is one place where it becomes easier. Wish you a good day ahead!

      • That is so true — today a lot of people tend to focus on the differences and exacerbate them by leaning further to the extreme. I always believe that moderation is key to having a balanced life that is harmonious with the nature and whatever there are in the world. Sure one can have a strong belief in something, but when that belief is forcefully imposed upon others that’s when problems happen. Have a nice day to you too, Randall!

  25. Thank you Randall for this portfolio of light and dark. The reflections, the compositions, and poetic captions mesmerize me.

    • Thank you very much, John. The Prague evening and night set the mood perfectly for both photography and poetry. Wish you a great finish to the summer, and if you are suffering as we are in Seattle with the wildfires, a little fresh air too 🙂

  26. The mannequin in the lovely dress seen through the window glass and the street person with his guitar sitting on the curb in front of her is my favorite photo. Your thoughts on the inextricable oneness of darkness and light become mesmerizing poetry.

    • Thank you very much, this is also my favorite photo of the group, a beautiful contrast and a very peaceful scene.

    • You’ll love Prague, once the history and people have a hold of you, you’ll never want to leave 🙂 Thank you.

  27. The images are stunning, the words capture all I love about the darkness and the way it’s possible to find the truth in it. I’ve experienced Prague mostly by day, never like this. Wonderful.

    • Thank you very much, Andrea, Prague is a sight to see, and the night is a great medium to see another side of this city. And your feelings about darkness parallels mine, it is possible to find the truth in the darkness. Cheers to a great day ahead.

  28. Good post, Randall. It sounds fantastic walking at night in a charming, old city like Prague. From your photos, the city looks just as beautiful as it does in the day.

    • It is a very charming city, HC, and like any city with history just walking around makes it possible to soak up a bit of the culture. Thank you, and wish you a fine ending to the summer season.

  29. Perfectly lovely and so good to see you back again! You and your intriguing images and thoughts have been sorely missed. We could use quite a bit of that rain right about now! 😉

    • It is great to be back Gunta, nothing quite like getting lost in photography again 🙂 Hopefully the rain will come soon, I’m back visiting in Seattle and we could use a little of it up here too. Cheers to the rain ~

      • There’s finally a chill in the air down here. Hopefully rain will follow.

  30. Ahhh… The mysteries of Prague.

    Very compelling imagery and prose, Randall. Here’s hoping your time in this timeless city was great. 😀

    • Mysteries that can never be resolved, but that’ll never stop me from trying to find all the answers. 🙂 Prague is an amazing place. Thank you, Shawn, wishing you and Tricia the best.

  31. Stunning images, Randall, as always… and an illuminating commentary. Light and darkness… they cannot exist without each other, but together they embrace all.

    • You are so correct, Sue, both light and dark exist to complement each other ~ they embrace all 🙂 Thank you very much for your nice comment, and wish you well.

  32. of the destination in my list to visit. I love to see the old architecture of Prague.

    • Yes, you will fall hard for Prague and the old architecture and buildings ~ history is everywhere, as is the beauty. Thank you and enjoy your visit when it does happen. Cheers ~

    • Hi Hedy, you are not too far away from Prague right now I believe 🙂 The city itself is amazing with its old buildings and history, and then when you venture out into the Czech countryside, that is where the real magic begins ~ you’d love it. Cheers and safe travels.

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