what light can do

Thursday, August 7, 2014


The other evening I was going out to dinner in a part of town I'm not normally in. We parked a block or so away and as we were walking up to the restaurant, I noticed this door window papered up from the inside with 8.5x11 printer paper. For some reason the scene struck me, this window gridded up, completely white with an ordinary material. But the sun was setting, and it glared harshly on the window. Because my mind is trained to think in light, I immediately wished it was cloudy so I could have a pure flat white light. Or, I continued to think, the light at dusk would be perfect. Not cloudy, but the harsh sun gone, the world plunged into the blue hour. I snapped a photograph with my phone anyways, knowing it would be dark when we came out of the restaurant. I knew I would miss the blue hour. 

This was a fleeting moment. I lagged behind the group for a second taking this picture, ran to catch up with Steele, who had waited for me, and told him about the papered door window, and we walked into the restaurant. I forgot about the photograph, and the door, until we finished eating and left. It was dark outside, so I knew I wouldn't be able to take a better photograph, but I still turned my head as we passed the door. 

What I saw was pure magic, and I lagged behind the group again, my body reacting before I had time to think, pulling out my phone so I could take another picture. The light inside the building was on, and that 8.5x11 paper was back lit. This was much better than the flat light my mind had wished for earlier. What drew me to the scene, the overlapping rectangles of this everyday material, was completely transformed with this light. I was so happy to have turned my head at that door. Happy to have noticed something completely average. Happy to have captured it. And thankful, as always, for what light can do. 


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