I've always been fascinated by the way things look at night. If you gaze up at the sky (on a clear and moonless night away from the glare of city lights) you can see the hazy swath of our own Milky Way galaxy -- a blurry swoosh of the millions of stars that snuggle around a central black hole. We can be thankful for our rod cells—one of two types of photoreceptor cells in the retina -- that allow us to see by the fuzzy starlight of a dim night. The rod cells are blind to color and only work in very low light. The other type of photoreceptor cell -- the cone -- kicks into action when bright light is available, and is responsible for high acuity vision as well as color. My poor little rods and cones must wonder who is leading their dance as I prowl around in the wee small hours: wandering under bright street lights and then turning down a shadowy sidewalk...step, step, step, step, rod/cone/rod/cone... no wonder I get eye strain in the dark.
Which is why I love night photography. Unencumbered by something as limiting as biology, the camera sees nightscapes in a wholly different way. I think the camera captures night the way it looks in dreams. I don't recall this corner of Mission and Fair Oaks being quite this magical when I actually shot this picture. Or, maybe it was ... and I just needed the camera to reveal it to me.