Discovering Analog Photography

My name is Dora Lionstone, and I’m a visual artist based in Amsterdam. I have been passionate about photography for a while now, years before I switched from being a software developer to becoming a full-time artist. But it was only in 2017, at the beginning of my studies at the art academy, that I also discovered analog photography for my artistic process. Instead of completely turning to the analog world, I began to embrace it as one element of a hybrid approach. For example, I like working with analog photography and digital collages or vice-versa. This multifaceted process challenges how I perceive and create visual worlds and keeps me open-minded for experiments.

Dora Lionstone

‘Forest Thoughts’, from ‘Nachtluftschlösser’, 2022


My work Nachtluftschlösser is an example for this multi-angled, experimental approach. The project examines the construction of thoughts and realities as well as the perception of hidden dimensions. I wanted to investigate how to recreate a vision from a dream using multiple techniques such as digital and analog photography, installations and projections at night.

The Inspiration

The inspiration for the project was a vivid nightmare: In the dream, I found myself inside a curious home when the walls suddenly became transparent. As I walked through them to the outside, I entered another dimension where nothing else existed. There, only the translucent outline of the building was still visible, glowing like a hologram. I feared: if I lost sight of this house, would everything I know cease to exist?

Dora Lionstone

‘Window View (Outside)’, from ‘Nachtluftschlösser’, 2022

Step By Step

During a residency in Finland in the winter of 2022, I set out to reconstruct this haunting yet elusive experience of the dream. Wanting to work with analog night photography and projections, I aimed to explore different ways how I could construct an image. I started building the process step by step: I first created miniature architectural models and then set up various larger installations in the Finnish landscape. At night, I projected images I had taken during the day onto the installations and re-photographed them in the darkness.

Dora Lionstone

‘Too Many Goals’, from ‘Nachtluftschlösser’, 2022

Shooting Almost Every Night

For these night shots, I used my Hasselblad 503CW and ILFORD Delta 100 and ILFORD PanF 50 films. I worked with long exposures to photograph the staged projections as well as various scenes that unfolded in the night. Shooting almost every night, the conditions were different each time, depending on the available moonlight or certain weather conditions. That made my work quite challenging. Not being used to the Finnish winter nor shooting late into the night, it wasn’t an easy task for me, but I was determined to go out and try again and again.

Dora Lionstone

‘2 a.m.’, from ‘Nachtluftschlösser’, 2022

Multiple Layers

Next to the analog images I shot at night in nature, this project also includes other methods such as collages and animations. The process grew more complex over time, involving multiple (re-)construction steps and techniques. The project thus interweaves multiple layers: 2- and 3-dimensionality, light and darkness, illusion and reality.

Dora Lionstone

‘Shadow Dancing’, from ‘Nachtluftschlösser’, 2022

Immersing Myself In The Environment

The remote and quiet location of the residency allowed me to immerse myself in the environment and in this project. The decelerated way of photographing with an analog medium format camera was quite meditative - due to the often very long exposures with minimal light - and allowed me to absorb the surreal atmosphere of the landscape at night. I surrendered to the snow, the wind, and the darkness of the unknown. I was revisiting my dream with each night I was photographing, repeatedly trying to capture an impossible image, and eventually yielding to the uncertainties of this visual and mental experiment.

Dora Lionstone

‘Air Castle in Full Moon’, from ‘Nachtluftschlösser’, 2022

Dora Lionstone

‘Light Steps’, from ‘Nachtluftschlösser’, 2022


Nachtluftschlösser has been selected as a runner-up for the OD Photo Prize 2022. It was presented during the InCadaués Photo Festival 2022 and was part of the Prospects exhibition during Art Rotterdam in 2023.