Part of my job as a Field Agent for Atlas Obscura is creating opportunities for people to explore places in their own backyards. But those excursions must be unique in some way—either giving people access to a place they would not normally be able to get into, or creating an experience at that place that is beyond what they might get on their own.
It's a lot of work, but it's worth it to me, because I get to reap the benefits of that unique access for myself. If I didn't have a group to bring with me, I probably wouldn't have the same opportunities on my own. So I'm willing to do the legwork to get us all in.
On its own, Heritage Square Museum is historic and haunted enough to qualify for an Obscura Society excursion, but it's open to the public, and anyone can visit during its open hours pretty much anytime. They even host occasional Victorian magic shows and silent movie screenings. But those evening opportunities are few and far between, so I set up a private, after-hours tour of Heritage Square's hauntingly beautiful houses as the sun was setting.
We arrived at Magic Hour...
...toured the houses through twilight...
...and waited for the triple digit heat to relent.
This time of day plays tricks on your eyes. The sun has set, but it's still somewhat light out, the horizon still glowing from where the sun dipped down.
We weren't in a hurry...
...but the darker the dusk became...
...the less we would be able to see.
Although I'd walked down these paths during the day...
...the change in light likewise changes your perspective.
Everything looks different.
You don't recognize the scenery. Sometimes you think you don't recognize yourself.
It would take a while still for this museum of misfit houses to become pitch black, but we stayed long enough for everything to appear in silhouette and shadow play, our pupils dilated wide to let as much light in as possible, to see the unseeable.
It was hard to go back into harsh, artificial light after that. It was hard to see things so glaringly bright, to hear the blaring sound of traffic after speaking in hushed tones to each other.
Sometimes you need to turn down the lights a bit. Sometimes the contrast doesn't need to be so harsh. Sometimes the saturation can ease up a little.
Sometimes, less is more.
Photo Essay: The Museum of Misfit Houses
Photo Essay: Oxnard Heritage Square