The crepuscular light after sundown and before artificial lighting takes over causes one’s eyes to relax to almost maximum aperture. Some animals, like dogs, are equipped to see especially well in this in-between time of light, neither fully lighted nor purely dark. Browsing sets of images with the keyword ‘crepescule’ (French for crepuscular, and more frequently tagged than the English) yields all sorts of scenes. Better than images, though, is the real thing: to walk predawn or in twilight at the close of dusk. What makes this time magical? Perhaps it is the fleeting sense of possibilities; as if history, future and present were freely flowing into each other. Perhaps it is the relaxed eyeball muscles to open the iris (or does the physiology work the other way: constriction pulls open the iris and the resting state is closed down?). Or perhaps it is the dynamic range that is so much reduced compared to broad daylight when the separation between shadow and highlight is so extreme.
On the other hand, browsing a collection of scenes soaked in glorious rays of sunlight or indeed walking through such a space in body, there are certain appeals of beauty, too. What makes these moments out of the ordinary capable of stopping you in your tracks to marvel at the scene? Perhaps it is the high dynamic range and the enhanced separation of foreground, middle ground and background. Everything appears more vivid and with added 3-dimensionality, compared to normal. Perhaps it is the rarity of so much solar power when usually there are clouds or obstruction to one’s view. Perhaps it is the sheer number of photons filling the space. Whatever it is, photos that communicate the quality of light that is brilliant, stunning or glorious will continue to attract attention, whether amplified by post-production manipulation or true to the original scene and minimally touched after clicking the button. [screenshots credit www.flickr.com/groups/landcape/pool on 30 Jan 2015] CODA: Consider the music analogy. Quiet music (analog to crepuscular light) causes a person to pay attention and savor what little is there, but bright and bold music (analog to a day of glorious light) engages the whole body in physical ways instead of cerebral or poetic ways. The pulse causes muscles to twitch and juices to flow in the dramatic medium, rather than the more delicate voice of the subdued strains.