Staten Island —

Photographer Anke Michaelson found artistic solace in church.

Churches in and around Staten Island’s North Shore are the subjects of Michaelson’s new photography series, Midnight Churches. The pictures, shot at night, feature churches whose lights are off, save for a few prayer candles in some.

Michaelson, 27, said she photographed the dark church interiors by placing two cameras in each house of worship and allowing the film to expose between one and three hours — creating a scene that can’t be seen by the naked eye.

“It’s just an extraordinary view of something everyone knows,” said Michaelson, whose pictures are on display in her husband’s restaurant, Marie’s Gourmet. “You get this effect like sculptures are illuminated and the colors are different.”

Michaelson said she chose churches because of the stained-glass windows. Sometimes she would have to visit a church four or five times to get the effect she sought. “It was definitely a learning experience,” she said.

The project was funded by a grant from the Council on the Arts & Humanities of Staten Island (COAHSI), said Michaelson, who has lived on Staten Island since emigrating from Germany as an au pair.

Her husband of seven years, Brian Michaelson, said he is glad to have the photos in Marie’s Gourmet, noting the works give the Italian cafe a feeling of warmth.

“I love them. I think they’re amazing,” he said. “When I was hiring, people came in and would call the booths pews. The pictures communicated that to them subliminally.”

The pictures, which will be on display through at least February 2008, are being sold for $500 to $700 each. Marie’s Gourmet is located at 977 Victory Blvd.