Picture Perfect

I woke up in a dark hotel room.  I grumbled my way out of bed, and I pulled back the curtains to let in some light.  Rising before me, I saw two towering buildings randomly lit by various windows.  It was just a pair of high-rise office buildings, straight-edged and squared at the top, but they looked so clean and clear against the deep blue backdrop of the sky.  I wanted to take a picture of it.  I grabbed my camera off the table, and I took a few steps back to get everything into frame.  But then I realized that there would be a glare off the window, and that it would ruin the photo.  I had to go outside and take the picture out in the open air.

The lobby doors of the hotel opened onto a narrow street with walls rising on either side.  Down at the far end of the street, in the distance to the East, I saw a conglomeration of buildings that looked like a city made of white crystal set against stratus clouds and pastel skies.  This was an even more incredible sight than the pair of office buildings.  I needed to get a picture of this too.  I ran down to the end of the street, so that I could get a nice, unobstructed view of it in the open.  But as I came to the corner, I was met by the glaring sun rising over the edge of the land.  I knew this would wash out my picture entirely, completely outshining the soft colors.

So I tried to find my original subject again.  I made my way through the streets, looking over the pedestrians’ heads and keeping my camera poised for the right moment.  But I couldn’t find those same buildings.  I saw plenty of other buildings.  I saw all the morning bustle of the city, the congested traffic and the crowded sidewalks.  I elbowed my way through, turning corners at random.  But something had changed.  The light had shifted.  The magic had passed.

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3 thoughts on “Picture Perfect

  1. Ah, isn’t it amazing how we can see something so picturesque, and then forget how crappy our camera technology is in comparison to the human eye? Reminds me of this great meme.

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    • Yeah, that’s like when I went to Niagara Falls. It’s such an amazing view, and then you try to take a picture of it and it’s just a big bunch of nothing.

      Of course, in that case it’s probably more the photographer than the camera. People who know what they’re doing have managed to get some great pictures of the Falls.

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      • It is sad that we (modern society, bolstered by advanced technology) have grown to depend so much on video & photography to represent the world to us, to the detriment of direct vision; and increasingly to the detriment of speech & written material. Is it analogous to synthetic fertilisers used to increase yields, instead of organically grown food?

        I wrote a bit about this in https://rochereau.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/binding-a-joy/ and mentioned Niagara too: that Rupert Brooke’s verbal description of the Falls gave me expectations that I felt might be disappointed if I went to see them for myself.

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