Every time we get in the car, we might take it for granted but the traffic light provides an invaluable role in ensuring road safety. Traffic lights, also called traffic lamps, signal lights, traffic signals, or stop lights,are light devices placed at road intersections, pedestrian crossings in addition to other locations to regulate contradicting or intersecting flows of traffic. Traffic lights were primarily installed in 1868 in the UK and are now employed quite indispensably all over the world.
Universally, the green light allows traffic to flow in a given direction, the orange/amber light means prepare to stop short of the intersection, and the red signal stops any traffic from proceeding. These signals are understood the world over.
Over a century ago the initial traffic lights were placed outside the British Houses of Parliament in London to regulate the traffic on Bridge Street, Great George Street and Parliament Street. While it was said to be successful at controlling traffic, its operational life was short-lived, as it exploded on January 2, 1869, as a result of a gas leak. This accident however, did not deter the long life that was to be, for the ubiquitous traffic light.
Fast forward to 2013 and we have the mundane, humble traffic light as the subject of some conceptual photography by Lucas Zimmermann. It is simple in concept, which is perhaps why the series is captivatingly beautiful. The collection is called simply, Traffic Lights and was shot late at night on a misty and empty intersection near Weimar, Germany.
Zimmermann shot these taking 5-20 second long exposures. In post production, he made a few minor tweaks to temperature, creating the bluish hues of the green light in a few images. The pictures are reminiscent of the scene in Spielberg’s 1977 classic, Close Encounters, when Richard Dreyfuss’ stalled pick-up truck was bathed in radiant, overwhelming light during an extra- terrestrial encounter at, well… a traffic light.
Zimmermann started his career as a professional photography 2009, having his first exhibition in Beijing in 2012. He founded, LUMA Visual Creations in 2012 with Maria Le Quang, which is a photography group based in the German cities of Landau, Würzburg and Weimar. Zimmermann and Le Quang have a strong belief that their collaborative efforts result in better work. “The right connection and the right communication are very important aspects for us,” declared the pair.
See Zimmerman’s strikingly stark, but beautiful Traffic Lights here.