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Dancing Clouds Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

24 February 2017

The pale blues, the deep ones, the ocean its own blue and the distant orange clouds, the big nearby puffs of gold with purple shadows all make you think, strangely enough, of oil paintings. Only because, we suspect, we are much more likely to see a reproduction of a painted sunset than a real one.

Dancing Clouds. The sunset after a few stormy days.

After living in a dark flat for 28 years, we've had the good fortune to be able to see the sun set before our very eyes (and lenses) since 2003. We don't always see a sunset, of course. There are plenty of days that the sun is obscured by fog.

But we can now say we've seen more sunsets than paintings of them.

There is something about first-hand experience that is untouched by the once or more removed. Wonder isn't the only fringe benefit. You start to appreciate the complexity of life when you confront life itself and not some representation of it.

There is something about first-hand experience that is untouched by the once or more removed.

Well, now we've ruined any possible enjoyment of the photo. It's a photo after all. It's not a pipe, as René Magritte once put it, although he actually said it in French: Ceci n'est pas une pipe.

And, in fact, it's not quite what the sunset looked like. It couldn't be. The range of brightness represented by the sun rays and the shadows in the hills can't be captured. The color saturation from gold to purple can't be mimicked. Even the simple tonality of the image -- what it looks like in plain old black and white -- is reduced in a photo so there's no detail in the neighborhood.

But it's the photographer's job to decided where to stop the highlights so the shadows still have some drama. It's our job to set the saturation to a credible level. Our task to show enough contrast to tell the story.

But the story may be nothing but our own, rather than a weather report, if we're playing the artist like Magritte or, say, Ansel Adams, who fought a lifelong battle to persuade people his images were not what he saw but what he felt.

Of course, the story could be a weather report -- if you're a photojournalist.

Your gear and your software are your tools but the skill with which you use them are your salvation when, standing before a scene that captivates you, you try to capture it in return.

As darkness descended the evening of this photo, the kitchen light went on and thoughts of dinner became the theme. But then we lingered over the last swallow of wine in our glass and thought it might be better to pour another glass and order Chinese food on an evening as captivating as this.

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