For some reason the fading light of the evening beckoned and rather than climb the steps and make supper, I set off for a walk to the riverside and enjoyed the cool November air and the rising north breeze. Street lights began to shine, headlamps on the cars came on, and the dusk deepened. What is it about the day’s changing light toward the evening (or in reverse order: night to gray, to blue, to golden at sunrise) that is so appeals to emotional response? The time when the sun is low in the sky and the light temperature shifts to the warmer tones seems to amplify and intensify the colors alone and against each other, the shadows are sharpened and darkened, too. As the golden hour gives way to the blue hour with its cooler light tones, it is the opposite effect to the golden hour. Now the reduced range of colors makes those remaining colors seem precious; or at least they seem different to the normal look of broad daylight. Even a familiar location takes on an unfamiliar look in this light. Then the last of the colors become even more muted until the light values that define shapes and relative distances is something like grayscale. Now the full night is not far away, so something magical happens – the boundary between history and the ordinary daily life of the present tense blurs a little. The leap of imagination to step into the past or the future is a small jump. It takes just a little effort to imagine the time has changed. The line between the living and dead thins in the quickly passing twilight as night takes over. What is the attraction of night photography?.Using a tripod changes the pace and length of exposures that now is possible, thus producing images different to ones quickly composed and captured. And the extreme lighting of artificial source versus unlit adjacent space means that point-source light is clearly defined, individual, palpable and 3-dimensional (unlike the all surrounding direct sunlight and indirect sky reflection). All together then the 2 hour span from Golden to Blue to Gray to Night provides a seamless stream of changing light conditions, each of which has appeals on its own. But when taken back to back, it is a feast for the eyes in four courses!
Browsing the user group for Landscapes at flickr.com there are certain location, subjects, or techniques that come up repeatedly. In this group, at least, Scotland and Iceland and Norway are frequent places for the thrilling play of light and weather and composition. Of course the golden hour around sun up and sun down, as well as the blue hour are well represented, too. But seeing one of the tidal ebb and flow for Mont San Michel in Normandy made me wonder – which of these thousands of amateur, enthusiast, and paid professional renderings is truest to life? Which places the structure and the life that goes on there (inside but also engaged with tourist tides in and out) in the most accurate and understandable context? This is perhaps an open question; not one quickly answered. Typing “mont san michel” in the flickr.com searchbox brings up thousands of shared images. Here is a screenshot from the December 13th, 2015 search on the first page of returns. Which then is the ‘real’ Mont San Michel, I wonder? Probably it would take some fieldwork on site to know the conditions of the geography and seasons, as well as the life on the island and the patterns of tourists – their purposes and effects.