Sky Torch

387

Rather large for the Olympic Torch, and too small to actually hold the Sun, but here it is. A large water tower adjacent to a run of high voltage transmission lines. The cloud cover blanketed the sky, except for an area which allowed the sun’s brilliance to shine through.

Timing and location are critical to so many things in life including photography. Once I saw the morning glow from a totally different perspective, I drove to a spot that I was familiar with and waited for the sun to travel along its early morning path. This was the result.

I posted this photo a few years ago and came across it again while searching for another image. It was taken during this time of year and it just drew me in. I hope you like it.

Almost

img_9406-2

This photograph is of Thursday morning’s sunrise. Or, should I say attempted sunrise? Shortly after I took a series of photos within a five minute period, the sun didn’t shine through the clouds the rest of the day.

However, I was hoping for a breakthrough of sorts as it has been rather dreary of late.

img_9408-2

For this photo, I zoomed in a bit closer. I liked the thin clouds intruding ever-so-faintly in front of the emerging sun…gentle waves of ethereal vapor.

img_9402

As can be seen, sunlight had no chance of illuminating our region…it seemed to simply fade away. We almost had a sunny day. We almost were warmed by the sun’s rays. We almost enjoyed the pleasantness which seems to attach itself to sunshine.

Almost can be encouraging or discouraging depending on perspective. In this case, I almost did not get the opportunity to view this short-lived image or shoot it with my Canon, but I did. I’ll take that as encouragement every time!

Shadows

FL 037

 

Shadows can be fun, mysterious, frightful, intentional, random, and even boring. Regardless of how they are viewed and make us feel, they can all be explained by a law of physics: light is interrupted by an opaque or semi-opaque object and darkness is created in the form of the object on the opposite side of the illuminated object.

The shape and degree of darkness are controlled by several factors: light intensity, angle of the light source illuminating the object, movement of the object or light source, opaqueness of the object being illuminated, location of the viewer with respect to the object, the terrain upon which the shadow falls, and the distance of the shadow.

In the case of this lengthy shadow, I was atop the lighthouse with a clear view of the shadow being cast. The sun was bright and at an angle as it was afternoon. The lighthouse was opaque, except for the glass windows which reveal the light fixture. Although the type of surface which accepted the shadow changes from land to water, both are relatively level and flat. Hence, the shadow is directly in-line with the lighthouse.

However, aside from a scientific explanation there is something else about shadows-perhaps something almost sinister. Our imaginations can run wild so-to-speak when we allow the shadow to come ‘alive’ in our minds. We ‘feel’ its presence which can send chills up our back and make us look over our shoulder repeatedly. Yet, logically, we know shadows are not alive, but they are attached to the object casting it via invisible cords. Those cords which lead us to the objects are what we really fear-the shadows only confirm their existence.

There are more to shadows than meets the eyes. It is what they reveal which makes them so special..so ethereal. Not only do they reveal a hint of the object casting the shadow, they often expose something deep inside of us which is only triggered by the faded image. When I gaze upon this scene I am reminded of warmth, relaxation and discovery-all very pleasant feelings. Fortunately, I viewed this shadow in bright circumstances and there was no negativity attached to it or the lighthouse. That is not always the case.

I recall a memory of shadows which affected me unexpectedly. Many years ago I hiked to the top of a 12,000 foot mountain in the Rockies of Colorado. The day was sunny and the weather pleasant. After a while I noticed dark, swiftly moving shadows rolling across the rocky terrain. Clouds, and then more clouds. Fast and then faster they came. With the sun blazing above them they cast menacing looking images onto the mountain top. I recall vividly how I suddenly felt so very small and insignificant in comparison to the grandeur of nature’s power. The majesty of the mountains coupled with a storm fast approaching made me very aware that had I stayed on top of that mountain when the full force of the storm passed over, I would not have returned from whence I started. I was amazed that all it took were shadows to evoke these thoughts and feelings.

With a slight chuckle I think of the movies with sinister plots and shadows which scare those acting as well as those viewing.  Feelings of fearfulness and harm cause the heart to race-all because of shadows. Or, is it the shadows? Perhaps deeper reasons exist.

Chasing Shadows

386This past weekend we returned from a trip we made to Ft. Worth, Texas, where we visited relatives. There is a section of Interstate I-35 between Emporia and El Dorado, Kansas where the famed Flint Hills are intersected by the highway. The Flint Hills are a  geological feature with tall mounds covered with natural prairie grass and gullies cut into the rock. These hills stretch across the eastern portion of Kansas at a North to South direction for 200 miles and are approx.80 miles wide. The elevations vary, but average about 1,400 feet above sea level. They are similar to a mini-mountain range. Due to the flint (chert) near the surface of these hills, farming is not possible. However, the great stand of Blue Stem prairie grass is perfect for cattle grazing. Cattle dot the landscape like trees do mountains at the timber-line. When atop one of the many hills, the visibility is astoundingly far, as if one were looking across a great ocean of blowing grasses. To view photos and learn more, please check out the Flint Hills via your browser as there are multiple sites which display this region.

On our return trip, as we were well into the Flint Hills, there was broken cloud cover. These clouds were moving very quickly. As the shadows of these clouds blocked the sun momentarily, racing shadows swept across the ocean with great beauty. Only a video camera could really capture the essence of what I am trying to describe. A still photograph would give you a static version of a moving thing which would be of some benefit, but it could not convey the race that was taking place. Although we were traveling at the designated 75 miles per hour speed limit, these shadows swept over us like planes. I wanted to catch a shadow, but knew it would be a futile effort so I chased them instead. As the highway would wind and climb then drop and climb again, each group of shadows would laugh at us. They were free of the restrictions of earth and gravity and pavement.

So, I thought as I drove. I marveled at the sheer beauty of clouds and their offspring. I calculated their speed and distance. I was in awe of their ‘light as air’ design, and the ability of each cloud to obscure our view of the sun…even for only a few seconds. The shapes and heights and colors of clouds amaze me, especially at sunsets when white becomes gold or possibly red-orange. And the shadows. They are shift and elusive. They ply across the ground, covering everything in their path as they dart past our field of vision. Magnificent is the word for what I saw. I wish you could have witnessed it for the heavens put on quite a show Monday afternoon.

Have you ever chased a shadow? Caught one? Why not try? Free yourself from anything that holds you back and simply ‘go for it ‘. While you’re busy chasing shadows and staring at clouds, consider who made them and rejoice that we have been given yet another reminder that this world was created for a reason and not by accident. That reason just happens to be you…and me. By enjoying the simple, yet most profound things this world has to offer, you may discover a new dimension to living…peace.

Masterpiece in Blue & White

1-26-14 032What is a masterpiece? Depending on the dictionary, one definition may read like this: any production of art which is created by one who is most competent in his or her trade, and whose work is most excellent in every way (my paraphrase of several choices).1-26-14 040As I gazed into the afternoon sky a few days ago I realized that I was observing a flowing work of art which was being painted by the Grand Master himself. His canvas was the sky and his brush strokes left behind a trail of cotton colored clouds. His method is always facile and his boundaries limitless.1-26-14 030Within a span of fifteen minutes I witnessed a hundred paintings. Each was unique and oh, so beautiful. I recall as a child the fascination that clouds held for me…laying on my back on a bed of grass, a warm breeze touching my face, and watching the sky turn into a playground of animals and people and things that went fast. Imagining was so fun.1-26-14 021Even though I am a bit older (ha!) I still enjoy watching the clouds form overhead, as in a ballet of sorts. I marvel at how quickly the images on the canvas change. As much as I enjoy the art, it is the awe for the artist that really captures me. Isn’t that true of any great master…we celebrate the maker as well as his creations.1-26-14 025Therefore, I leave you with this thought. Be conscious of what is above in addition to what is around you. Look up more often and spend less time peering down…the view is so much more spectacular!1-26-14 016