Sunday, August 26, 2007

When photography goes wrong.

About a month ago, I was obsessed with photography. But I haven't taken a photo for nearly 2 weeks now, and it is very liberating. I'll give you an example why:

This weekend, Mrs M & I were walking back from the beach when we saw a powerful rainbow in the sky. Rainbows have always been very auspicious and symbolic for us (a great big one appeared on our wedding day).

But since getting into photography, this is what used to happen every time I caught sight of a rainbow:

"QUICK! My camera. Where's my camera damnnit? - I can't miss this one. FCK, I bet you the battery is dead! Just my luck! (scrambling back into the house, anxious not to lose a second). Got to capture this one, got to capture this one! I'm short of rainbow photos on my flickr account, especially seen as they're so special to me. Imagine all the comments i can get on this one!! FCK, the lights gonna change, it's gonna dissappear before I get the camera set up. Scramble, dash, panic.... get the picture. And yes, by the time I'd got the camera ready and positioned, often the rainbow had dissipated.

So on Friday when we saw the rainbow (we were nearly back at our house by then) my first impulse was "GRAB THE FCKN CAMERA". But suddenly I thought WHOA, don't panic. Rather enjoy this one. And I walked out into the garden, sat on a bench and just watched the rainbow all the way until it dissipated of its own accord. It took at least 20 mintues, although I got so immersed in its beauty that I'm not sure exactly how long it actually was.

It's the first time I've ever looked at a rainbow like that. I counted the colours. I saw how, if you focus your eyes exclusively on the clouds behind the rainbow, it completely dissappears; that to actually see the rainbow requires a subtle shift in normal focus. I tried to calculate how many kilometres above the earth the top of the arch was. I saw the clouds forming and swirling behind it in the sky. I saw a swallow darting in front of it. Most of all, I saw how long it actually lingers after most people think that it has dissipated. By looking at it for a long time and knowing exactly where it's line across the sky is, you can discern it for ages after it appears to have gone. Even when it is invisible to the world you can pick up very faint patches of red, yellow and blue against the clouds. And I wondered that if they start this way too, how often they are there before we even see them. Maybe there are hundreds that never even come to full fruition, but just decorate the sky undetected by the human eye.

When I came inside afterwards, I felt this incredible sense of peace, like I'd just finished a good meditation session. How different from the mad panic to grab the camera, try to "capture" the image, and invariably be left with a cloud of disappointment the rest of the day, because it had mostly dissappeared by the time your equipment was ready.

No, from now on I'm never going to photograph another rainbow. And if I'm in a position to, I'm gonna stop whatever else I'm doing and just appreciate it. Right until the very end...


  1. I'd moved into my spacious new apartment yesterday and I was walking back from the supermarket when I saw a guy taking a picture of the sky with his cellphone camera. The clouds were pretty spectacular as it had been raining a little but when I got to the intersection and looked in the direction he had been taking his photo I saw it: an intense partial rainbow. If it hadn't been for that guy with his cellphone camera I might have missed it. :-)

  2. They sell pictures of rainbows at Target anyway!


  3. It's the sad joke of the day that tourist see the world only through their cameras. It's great you just stood there and enjoyed.

  4. Somewhere over the rainbow
    Way up high,
    There's a land that I heard of
    Once in a lullaby.
    Somewhere over the rainbow
    Skies are blue,
    And the dreams that you dare to dream
    Really do come true.

    Someday I'll wish upon a star
    And wake up where the clouds are far
    Behind me.
    Where troubles melt like lemon drops
    Away above the chimney tops
    That's where you'll find me.

    Somewhere over the rainbow
    Bluebirds fly.
    Birds fly over the rainbow.
    Why then, oh why can't I?

    If happy little bluebirds fly
    Beyond the rainbow
    Why, oh why can't I?

    could not resist

  5. now that is something I can relate to. Somethings should be seen and experienced. You can try to capture them but they will never be the same


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