Winter solstice, which at 50°N latitude means damn few hours of light, and in this grey corner of the world the light is poor stuff, a dark cotton ceiling, edgeless, colorless. Which, plus an interesting essay from Glenn Reynolds has me thinking about film and computers and pictures and the light that isn’t here.
In Vancouver we crack jokes about late fall’s endless grey gloom: “Hey, we wouldn’t be living here if we didn’t like this shit, right?” Psychologists label it SAD for Seasonal Affective Disorder but a perfectly well-balanced person can real easily end up feeling crappy because we haven’t seen any proper fucking light for the last seven weeks.
This was brought home to me with some force a couple of weeks ago on the way back from XML 2003 when, at Philadelphia airport, the sun came out and suddenly I found myself shooting picture after picture of the featureless airfield just because it had light—light!—on it.
Still, I did get this fairly amusing shot of a ship apparently riding on an airplane’s back.
Which is about the only time I’ve really wielded the camera in weeks and weeks. The non-light is one reason; the other is that the great slide-recovery project is eating up an hour or two every evening, and my photomojo is pretty well burned up with the scanning and cropping and saving and CD-burning: I’m up over six hundred in the slides from my previous life.
Anyhow, while I work my way through these, I find that Reynolds essay weighing heavily on my mind (some reading this may not know that Reynolds is usually known as Instanpundit, author of what may be the most-read blog on the planet).
Anyhow, Reynolds wonders at the fact that, even on a computer screen and reduced to computer-screen sizes, photos shot on film somehow seem to look better than those originally captured via digicam.
Why don’t you judge for yourself? The following are seven shots from a memorable day mid-Eighties in Pacific Rim National Park, which is one of the wonders of the world and don’t you forget it. Anyhow, enlarge one or two of these and see if you think digicams are quite there yet.
The Park has wildlife; these apparent innocents are the worst kind of depraved kleptorodents, wander to the edge of your campsite to enjoy the view for but a moment and they’ll have the steak off the table and into the bushes. But they are cute.
There are also invertebrates; below a cluster of starfish in a Wayne’s-World Extreme Closeup. Handsome critters in their own way.
There’s this cliché about Seeing The Universe in a Grain Of Sand; leaving that line behind, the contrast between macro-and micro-scales of the same view has something to be said for it.
But at the end of the day, it’s all about the end of the day, which is to say, sunsets, this is after all the Pacific Rim, sunsets are what happens, you can try to ignore them but they won’t let you. For example, it looks like there’s one happening behind this screen of trees:
Yep, there it is; generations of Detroit automotive-trim designers have striven and mostly failed to capture these colours in their paint jobs, although the pale-blue prevalent on some Fords of the sixties came close, particularly after it faded into the Eighties.
And here’s a shot after the sun has gone down; the twilight is long in these North latitudes. For anyone who’s had to do with British Columbia culture, or Canadian Art Culture, I have two words: Emily Carr. For the rest, they’re just big trees against a nice-looking sky.
I don’t think digicams are quite there yet.