Wednesday, June 08, 2005

More on Light and Shadow

A while back I Blogged on how my new work schedule was affording me an opportunity to observe the way the time of day and the weather affected the sunlight, and to begin to understand what architects and photographers mean by “Quality of light”. This morning is one of those gorgeous mornings, the sky overhead is cloudless, and the low angle of the sun means it’s not flooding the whole landscape outside with light, but rather is lighting up tall objects like trees and hills, casting surprisingly dark shadows for such brightly lit objects, providing for sharp, clear contrasts. It makes everything look almost more real than normal, if that’s possible. What I mean by that is, each object being lit stands out, has its own noticeable individual identity instead of being part of some homogenous background.

Last night a different time of day and a different set of conditions gave some different but eerily beautiful results.

The weather for most of the day yesterday was quite rainy (but not that cold), as if the weather is trying to make up for lost time before summer officially arrives. As the day wore on, the weather began to clear, until by the time I picked up TFR from work, some time after 8 PM, not only were there spots in which the clouds did not rain, there were patches of completely clear sky. As the sun set (this far north, summer sunsets are quite late), it hit that gap between the mountains and the clouds that I love so much, lightening the sky and tingeing the clouds to the west with an incandescent edge, fading into crimsons and violets. Oregon has some of the most gorgeous sunsets you’ll ever see, and they only get better over on the coast.

This last effort to shine left the sky over Eugene bright and glowing, surprisingly bright for such a rainy day. As we drove from Eugene into Springfield, there was a mist hanging close to the ground, and as the sun lit it, it created a golden glow around and over us. Farther to the east, it was darker, as if that wall of mist absorbed the last of the sunlight, but the higher cloud level meant that it was a whitish-bluish-grayish darkness, more like the rainy day it had been than like the night that was coming, until over the Cascades farther to the east, where the clouds met the Earth, it was the thick, brooding darkness of a storm.

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