The Alchemy of Light: Part Two–The Illuminated Night

30 December 2011

Lens:

Holiday Lights

Holiday Lights I, December 2011; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2011

Holiday Lights II, December, 2011; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2011

Holiday Lights II, December 2011; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2011

Holiday Lights III, December, 2011; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2011

Holiday Lights III, December 2011; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2011

I welcome your comments about any of these nighttime photographs.

Pens:

The night sky has been one of the most intriguing physical phenomenon for humans to understand. It remains mysterious and continues to be a playground for scientific analysis, investigation and speculation. But it also is apt fodder for the rest of us, and has been since the dawn of the “thinking” brain. Eventually, it was not enough to be wooed by the moon and the stars. We had to enter the party with fire and other innovations to bring light where it had not been. And so we added to the otherworldly nighttime illumination.

The gift of artificial light to the human experience improved life, and gave more ammunition for inventions and a different life journey. We literally found a way to light the night.

Artists constantly wrestle with artificial and natural light; it’s easy to surmise which is the preferred. But natural light may not always be available to enliven or give substance to the image that is chosen. In photography challenges are always there. No matter how many stacks of photographs taken, the next subject can frustrate and push the synapses to their edge of reason. Light is very much a frontispiece to the visual arts.

The Impressionists, such as Claude Monet, struggled to tame the light. They presented the world in a way that the camera eventually would achieve in the quickness of time. Monet, who is one of my favorite artists, studied the way that light and water danced together. As he painted and painted and painted their interaction, he became a master of illumination.

Sunset at Parliament, Claude Monet, 1903

The House of Parliament at Sunset, Claude Monet, 1903

Waterlillies by Claude Monet, 1903

Waterlillies by Claude Monet, 1903

“For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life–the light and the air which vary continually.” Claude Monet (1840-1926)

In the Lens section are three photographs taken last week on the darkest of evenings. A neighbor’s decorations were the centerfold for the neighborhood. My goal was to produce abstracts of those holiday lights. They remind me of fireworks moving across the horizon.

Tomorrow night I plan to walk outside as the new year opens its arms, and embrace what the night has to offer. I’ll be thinking about the generations of eyes–human and not–that have pondered the skyline from other vantage points. The sky evolves at its own pace, but it holds much of what the first animals viewed. That image wows me.

I extend to you wishes for a new year filled with the light of hope–a world illuminated by hope and peace, and, yes, the glow of heavenly bodies.

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6 Responses to The Alchemy of Light: Part Two–The Illuminated Night

  1. What a beautiful post, Sally. I love the night sky and to think how our ancestors saw it without all this artificial light and in a truly dark sky. And how they must have marveled at it. To regain such a wonder is a gift, I think.

    And I love your images. You have tried to get designs with the light movement, and I love that! These are the best holiday light photos I’ve seen, I think. 🙂

    The best of the new year to you, Sally! And thanks for this blog. 🙂

  2. I can see the first picture as a field of neon wheat blowing in the wind.

    Steve Schwartzman
    http://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com

  3. Phenomenal photos, Sally. One is more spectacular than the next. My favorite, though, is the lily.

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