Thursday, March 14, 2013

February Field Notebook


If I fretted about light in January, it was nothing to the problems I faved trying to swatch at night during February. To swatch in darkness, you need to find a source of light. Streetlights were helpful, although most of the lamps in the city have bulbs that are very yellow/orange which adversely effected the camera's ability to see colors accurately. Gas stations and box-store parking lots were great. I tried to take a bunch from inside, too, with some success.

It wasn't as much the process that frustrated me, but the outcomes. The matches I achieved in the photos, although pleasing and seemingly accurate, produced a somewhat compromised palette when viewed away from the original situation. Because of this, I've started questioning atmosphere. What conditions (in addition to light, which might be the reason I chose the night swatch challenge in the first place,) were causing the divergence between what you see when looking at the swatch on-location and the color of the swatch when viewed independently? What would you have to do - in something like a gallery setting, for example - to be able to "read" in person what camera saw in situ? This is, perhaps, an avenue to explore in subsequent works.

The two factors that effected the color of the night sky most dramatically were weather and proximity to light, most obviously the light of a city. I spent a week of February traveling around the East Coast visiting friends and family. When I told a friend I had to swatch the night sky he said, "Isn't is just black?" Honestly, I was shocked. Even before this project I was pretty aware that the night sky is anything but. City lights, when trapped by cloud cover, are surprisingly, even alarmingly, bright. We're all so used to the strange mauve/purple that it doesn't even seem bizarre any more. But I remember being shocked by it when I first moved to Baltimore for college. The light was ever present and the color just seemed wrong. Out in the country, in Western Mass and the mountains of Vermont, the darkness was glorious. Not black, not quite, not ever... but darn near impossible to photograph. After my trip, the light of the city startled me all over again. It only took 4 nights to forget.

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Looking ahead:

March's challenge is Transition Times: Dusk & Dawn. 

(All of the swatch photos taken to date can be viewed on my flickr.)

1 comment:

Lily EBVS said...

Nora! I absolutely love this project. Also, haaaaay gurrrrl. Just stalking you all over the internet.