Sunday, January 27, 2008

The quality of light

Years ago, having received a 35 mm SLR cameras for graduation, I was shooting black and white film. I was bored with color, I see in color so it was not too exciting. But to see in black and white was different.
In the middle of a snowy winter, I woke up around one AM and looked out my bedroom window. I saw a white world lit by a brilliant full moon. I set the camera lens on the window sill to steady it. I could feel the cold radiating off the windows, falling down over my hands and arms. I adjusted the shutter to manual and snapped several shots. Now, it is instant gratification, click the button and see the digital image. But I was working very little and money was tight, so I had to wait to shoot the rest of this roll and one more to make it worth my money to send it off for developing. Ironically I sent it to Mystic Connecticut, which now lies just across Long Island Sound. Ahh, anticipation.
Sometimes I would even forget what I had shot on the roll.
The photos were blurred, except one. This picture looks like it was taken at noon on a sunny day.
Then, later, I was asked by several friends to shoot them in color and black and white. I thought they were some of the best work I ever have done. I learned about the "sweet light" that happens with the sun low in the morning or evening sky.
Lattitude makes a difference in quality of light, so does the time of year with where the sun is in the sky.
I went out last week, into a cold, windy night with a blindingly bright full moon. Poni fairly glowed with radiant light, luminescent as she sniffed around for the perfect place to relieve herself. Bugsy was still mostly invisible, but he cast a shadow that I could easily follow. Puppette glowed as if lit from several angles at once. The night sky was that amazingly clear that can only happen on a freezing night. The limbs of the bare trees cast uneven shadows on leaf and grass. The wind made the stubborn clinging leaves rattle against their trees.
Poni was anxious to get in, he thin fur coat is no help against the wind chill. Bugsy was trying to scent squirrels in the night, nothing could dissuade him. Puppette was contenet to sniff the news in the leaves and yard detritus.
The Moon light was streaming in the window next to the bed as we all settled in to sleep. It was in my face, lighting the room we sleep in.
In the combination of freezing wind, bright moon and winter shadows, I felt a bit of home, a piece of the past in another place meet with this place and time.
I was the last to fall off to sleep that night, the last to see the full moon, so bright it was hard to discern lunar feature, welcoming me to a new home.
Quality of light. Quality of life.


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