Thursday, September 13, 2007

When It Rains...

Most people like to go outdoors when it's sunny, neither too hot nor too cold, clear with little humidity, with maybe a slight breeze. But photographers are a different breed. We know that good weather is not always a helpful "assistant." Technology has not yet been able to reproduce the human eyeball, and cameras (especially film cameras) see and record light in ways that can be quite peculiar. Photographers learn this quickly and, accordingly, can be found taking pictures in weather that would drive the most intrepid day hiker indoors.

Overcast weather is often the best for taking closeup shots of flowers: there are few distracting shadows, and the colors are extremely saturated and "rich." (The accompanying photo was taken on an overcast day.) During a rainshower, the countryside can be quite beautiful, especially in the fall, when the wet leaves glimmer and the reds, oranges, and yellows can really pop. Snowfall softens the light, sometimes creating scenes that are almost monochromatic. As paradoxical as it may sound, some of the best photographs are created under some of nature's most difficult conditions.

Sometimes, I think my spirit works this way too. When I'm pleased with the way life is going, I'm not very introspective--I don't question the meaning of what I'm doing, I simply enjoy the moments. But when my life is overcast or rainy--when I'm dealing with illness or conflict at work or financial troubles--that's when I wake up and ask myself, "Am I spending my hours the way I really want to?" or "Do my daily activities really have any purpose?" That's when I'm able to see myself in sharp, vivid focus. That's when I begin to do the difficult work of making sense of my existence.

Do I want to ponder such imponderables? Do I want to see my life that clearly? Do I have to go through tough times to know the truth of myself? It seems that maybe I do....

I'd rather play outside on a sunny day, but I know that sometimes a walk in the rain can be even more memorable, and more meaningful.

No comments: