Midnight Modern: Focusing on the modernist houses of Palm Springs in moonlight

Midnight Modern brings into focus a view of Palm Springs and its internationally renowned modernist houses never before shown, shot entirely by the light of the full moon.

Created over the course of three years by Australian photographer Tom Blachford, the surreal images function as portals in time, with the homes, cars, and beautiful scenery appearing almost exactly as they all did 60 years ago. The crisp moonlight adds a new dimension to the famous mecca of desert modernism and shows a contrasting side of a town famous for its sunshine, cocktails, and hedonism.

Working closely with the Palm Springs community, Blachford gained remarkable access to some of the most coveted architectural jewels in the area, including the Kaufmann Desert House, Edris House, Frey House II, Frank Sinatra Twin Palms House, and dozens of restored Alexander tract homes in the valley.

Blachford's work builds on the famous documentary and lifestyle approaches of Slim Aarons and Julius Shulman, but injects a signature mystery. His cinematic aesthetic acts as a stage for an untold narrative, inviting the viewer to script their own drama going on behind the walls of these historic homes. This original, lush work is a rich contribution to the record for those mid-century architecture and design lovers fascinated by Palm Springs.

Now you can enjoy the series in a new book, Midnight Modern: Palm Springs Under the Full Moon, courtesy of powerHouse Books. You can purchase a copy online.

Tom Blachford's photography has a way of connecting the familiar with the surreal, rendering functional, man-made structures into strange and beautiful dreams. Based in Melbourne, Australia, his fascination with texture and shape made for a natural transition into the world of architecture. Blachford's work has been featured in Domus, Wired, Curbed, Dwell, Vogue, and Wallpaper*.

All images courtesy of powerHouse | Main image credit: Donald Wexler, 1962 1963 Studebaker Avanti

Kaufmann Desert House Richard Neutra, 1946

Kaufmann Desert House Richard Neutra, 1946

Kaufmann Desert House Richard Neutra, 1946

Kaufmann Desert House Richard Neutra, 1946

Kaufmann Desert House Richard Neutra, 1946

Kaufmann Desert House Richard Neutra, 1946

Palmer & Krisel, 1959

Palmer & Krisel, 1959

Edris House E. Stewart Williams, 1954

Edris House E. Stewart Williams, 1954

Edris House E. Stewart Williams, 1954

Edris House E. Stewart Williams, 1954

 Frey House II Albert Frey, 1963

Frey House II Albert Frey, 1963

Architect unknown, 1967

Architect unknown, 1967

Frank Sinatra Twin Palms Estate E. Stewart Williams, 1947

Frank Sinatra Twin Palms Estate E. Stewart Williams, 1947

Ship of the Desert Wilson & Webster, 1936

Ship of the Desert Wilson & Webster, 1936

Hal Levitt, 1961 1957 Ford Thunderbird

Hal Levitt, 1961 1957 Ford Thunderbird