Westport artist Stephen Wilkes spends 15 hours a day in a bucket truck, suspended high over whichever New York scene he’s shooting: Central Park. Times Square. Coney Island.
He’ll shoot 1,400 images — and never take a bathroom break.
But that’s not even the most remarkable thing about his work.
Wilkes spends the next 4 months examining every single shot. He searches for tiny, telling details, like 2 men’s hands that seem to reach toward each other — taken several hours apart.
He stitches his favorite shots together. Sure, he uses a computer — but it’s hands-on, intricate, intensely tedious work.
When he’s done, Wilkes has produced a “Day to Night” shot. It’s as if 1 photo shows a 15-hour span.
Of course, it’s dozens of images. Amazingly — though one side of his work is light, the other dark — you can’t see any separation at all.
This past Sunday, “CBS Sunday Morning” profiled the Westporter’s astonishing artistry.
A national audience heard Wilkes describe “Coney Island.” The right side of the photo — the beach — was crowded during the day. The left side — the amusement park rides — were equally packed at night. The dividing line, though, was nowhere to be seen. Day morphed subtly into night, just as it does at the real Coney Island.
CBS showed other Wilkes works. There was the Flatiron Building — taken on September 11, 2010 — with “ghost lights” from the Twin Towers. Central Park, in an ice storm. Washington Square Park, where brides kept appearing at different times during the day.
Though New York offers a seemingly endless array of “Day Into Night” possibilities, Wilkes may soon turn his 15-hour lens on Shanghai. Or Jerusalem.
Months later, the world will see his spectacular images.
All of which he works on — day and night — right here in Westport.(Click here to view the CBS-TV “Sunday Morning” video clip.)