Watching the Light

Sunrise today: 8.38am. Sunset today: 4.39pm. 8 hours of sunlight. 1 hour and 35 minutes longer than the shortest day.

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Driving home at twenty past five and for the first time the sky is still light. There’s no daylight left but it’s not yet dark and the sky is twilight blue the whole way home, and the lochs by the roadside as the road bends and curves are the palest twilight blue, like the flashes of a torch, like the thump of a heart beat, illuminating our passage.

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A sunlit lunchtime, the first for I don’t know how long, and with the snow almost away there’s a quality to the mud and grass that reminds you for a moment of the first taste of spring, echoing with robinsong, and nothing for it but to stand and catch the light.

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Leaving the building just after 5pm, people stop and stare at the sky.

‘Have you seen the light?’, someone says.

‘Did you see it this morning? Look at the light!’

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The ice might have gone but the gale that follows stops me walking. Even a picture in the garden’s hard as the wind tries to whip the phone from my hand. I lean against the wall of the old blackhouse for support, and watch its light.

black house in sun

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I’m still not sure what photography means or why it matters. Perhaps it’s just a question of watching the light.

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And though I came to forget or regret all I have ever done, yet I would remember that once I saw the dragons aloft on the wind at sunset above the western isles; and I would be content.

~ Ursula Le Guin

4 thoughts on “Watching the Light”

  1. So beautiful. I agree with you that photography is about watching the light, and all that means, and also about watching the dark too, the dark that gives shape and strength, and that holds the light so reverently.

    1. That’s such a beautiful counterpoint Sarah, and much food for thought for me this week. Thank you.

  2. Because I take photos at that place where all my senses and thought processes meet, for me, photography is about creating portals and symbols, creating a soul journal and a road map back home to the part of me that loves details and moments of delight, wonder and awe. But I’m torn: I’m an intense introvert and enjoy ruthlessly editing my life-collections so that only the most potent, uplifting, deeply personal symbols remain – be it photos, books, ornaments or music – but I also enjoy taking photos for the simple joy of illustrating thoughts and sharing ideas, inspiration and moments with others. Photography may be about writing with light, but I like how your beautifully curated site always makes me ponder my whys and who fors.

    1. Isn’t it interesting that a word and an activity that is so familiar to us – most of us – now, has so many different meanings, so much different significance. I guess it’s the same with ‘writing’ which most definitely covers a multitude of sins! I think for me photography is a way to better notice, to say thank you somehow. I often have very little interest in the photograph after the event, it seems to be the process that has most significance. Though I am trying to get back into the habit of sharing them again – there is something very powerful in a different way through that process.

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