Wikipedia defines light as the portion of electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, responsible for the sense of sight. It defines sight as the ability to interpret information and surroundings from the effects of visible light reaching the eye and color is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, green, blue and others
Confusing, cold, scientific definitions which give the answers needed, but fall short in describing the feelings of lights, colors, and most of all sight. It in now way captures the essence of fireworks exploding in the sky. or the way the world seems to change when you drive past a police cruiser, lights ablaze on a dark stretch of highway – or even more so – when one pulls you over. It can’t begin to paint the picture of candles providing the sole illumination in a lover’s bedroom, the neon of the Times Square or the blinking lights of a Christmas tree, and the light up Santa half buried in the snow.
I remember being a young boy, on vacation, in a strange hotel room, waking up in the middle of the night. My parents and sister were all sleeping, but I lay in bed gazing out a gap between the curtains. There was a road outside, and every so often a car would come along, I would watch as the headlights began as two white points the distance, growing larger and larger, then once it passed the hotel, turned to two red dots which grew smaller and smaller into the distance.
Lights inside the darkness, color surrounded by blackness, and the beautiful gift of sight to bring it all to us, how does anyone even begin to describe that?
I remember driving my dad nuts in the way only I could. He’d smirk, sigh and laugh. We’ve been together 35 years and I can still do it. But this memory was long ago, we were both younger and this is where I’m supposed to add that my mom who was watching us the whole time hasn’t aged a day since then. She sat there just glad I wasn’t badgering her with my endless bombardment of questions. Robin just sighed. We were in a restaurant in Chinatown had probably finished dinner and it had been awhile since I saw those eyes and I still wanted my father to tell me the true magic behind it and I wasn’t giving up until I heard an explanation that matched my childhood imagination.
Every year for Christmas my mother would take me and Robin to my Dad’s office. My older brothers were off doing older brother things so most if my memories are just the 4 of us. We’d get there and play with the file folders and rolling shelves and when the whistle blew (or dad was afraid we were about to reorganize his filing system) we would walk to see the big tree.
I doubt I have to explain anything about the Rockefeller Christmas tree or St Patrick’s Cathedral or Macy’s windows or anything else about the splendor and majesty that is NYC at Christmas. We’d always see the tree, the church, and the windows, buy a steaming hot pretzel and then jump on the subway to Chinatown for real NYC Chinese food. Rockefeller Center is packed every night and every day with people gazing at the big beautiful tree bursting with color and the skaters in the rink below it. My family and I navigated our way thorough the crowds towards the tree. After a while of taking it all in my father lead us into the Rockefeller building itself, away from the crowds outside. The lobby was quiet and empty. He directed us to look upwards to the ceiling of the lobby, where a fantastic mural had been painted. The figure in the center of it all had a menacing glare in his eyes and he stared back at us hard. My father took us to a different spot in the lobby and miraculously the dark mean eyes seemed to follow us. We found another spot and was still being watched. My dad explained that those eyes would follow us all over the lobby and of course he was right.
I remembered being amazed by what he shared with us that night and it was a similar amazement that I felt today looking back up at that same mural. That building is the flagship NYC property of the company I now work for and I paused on my way to my desk this morning and looked up. Outside the lobby the tree was already up, encased in scaffolding, getting ready for its big debut.
I’ve been thinking about my next blog post for a few days and I’ve been at a loss. I recently took some photos which I am extremely proud of. I set up my strobes and turned the living room into my studio. The result was outstanding. The lighting was perfect and the subject was an exquisite piece of pure beauty. She sat the showing me not only how proud and grand she still was but that age and time had made her delicate and in need of a loving touch.
Through my lens I poured over every detail of my Grandfather’s camera. I studied it all. Since them I’ve begun the process of learning where to get film for it, how to develop it and equally important – how to work it. The whole time, I’ve been rendered speechless by the fact that my mother gave it to me.
I was called an ungrateful bastard the other day, which wasn’t the first time in my life and since I probably am one, I’m sure it won’t be the last. Coupling that with Charlene bringing the amazing blog of Christina and her list of gratitude to my attention and I was brought back to that December night and my father sharing this moment with us and all of which I have to grateful for…
Enjoy your holiday season … and don’t forgot to not only appreciate the tree, but whats in the lobby behind it… and be grateful for it all.
My friend, Doug, has to be the best Dad ever. This year, for Christmas, Doug strapped on boots, trudged across the back deck – nearly slipping and killing himself in the process – and left a pipe next to an empty plate of cookies.
All it was done so his two beautiful children would rush down the stairs and have no doubt at all that the abundance of presents nestled underneath the beautifully decorated tree was left behind by none other than Santa Claus himself.
Christmas means so many things for so many people. I have my own opinions, but as strong as they are, I am never one to belittle or destroy an opposing thought when it comes to this topic. Secretly, I am a bit envious of the joy Christmas brings some people.
Every year, we are amazed by the gifts that the Santas in our lives bring us. It could be a comfy and warm new sweat shirt or a top of the line Nikon D700, but its something that we were given because the giver just wanted to see a smile. It’s the beauty of a gift given selfishly.
I believe what I just wrote – it’s why I love giving gifts, even something as silly as a little ornament, and why I love receiving gifts, even something as small as a book.
But lets be honest. The best gifts – the gifts that Christmas was made for – are for the children. The bells, the whistles, the lights, all the terrific things toys do these days and the ecstatic expression they leave on our children’s faces. It’s the magic of a new great toy – but it’s also the wonder and amazement that someone out there, someone who lives far off in the North Pole and tracks boot prints through the kitchen in his rush to visit all the houses in the world, clumsily leaving behind his pipe, is watching us, and knows exactly what we wanted.
I thought of this as I cleaned up after my boys went back to their mother’s when my Christmas weekend with them was over. I put away their toys, where they would wait to be played with again, and I thought back on my own past Christmas, and how magical the Santas in my life were, and still are to this day.
Thanks for the sweatshirt Mom and Dad. It was exactly what I wanted.
This is what my kids got this year… what did you get?
It’s funny how I, at one time, thought this blog could only be about photos, and not about me. It was a friend who the other night finally keyed me into the fact that since the photos are me, then whatever I blog about will be me as well.
The other morning I grabbed my gear and headed out the door and wound up in a cemetery … again. As I’ve tried to explain, It’s not just that I’m insane or have an unnatural attraction to cemeteries, but it’s also because I’m surrounded by them. I live in the “Cemetery Belt” of New York City. Also, despite my urban upbringing I’ve always been a nature lover. In this city, the best place to see what the world would look like if not for the injection of concrete, steel and glass, are cemeteries. Parks are too man-made and designed to get a real feel for it… I’ve never seen a hawk in Juniper Valley Park, but I’ve seen them in a cemetery.
Of course, as I walked my mind wandered and I wasn’t surprised where it wound up, given my surroundings. Bob was not only my biggest fan, and the most encouraging person when it came to my hobby, but he was also one of my closest friends and confidants. Bob was one of those guys who knew the whole story, even if I tried to leave out a detail, he’d figure it out. Bob loved looking at my photos. I would even send him private ones, snapshots from my vacations or trips with my kids to museums or just playing in the park, stuff that never made Flickr or Grasp The Moment because he loved seeing smiling faces. However, as for the rest of the stuff, Bob always told me he loved my cemetery stuff the best. He grew up in this area, and like me, spent a lot of time in them. Yes, Bob spent a lot of time on the wrong side of the tracks, and cemeteries were also excluded spots where he could be left alone by the law, but he always told me that he too saw a peace and tranquility in between the stones as well.
Bob left us all Thanksgiving day in the stupidest of ways which does not make it any less painful not to have him here anymore.
My memories and thoughts of Bob were interrupted by a soft sound in the distance. I was in a newer part of the cemetery, one I usually don’t shoot in because the graves are newer, modern, not the old craftsmanship which I am so fond of. I usually just hustle through it. At the edge of the section was tree, bare of it’s leaves, but decorated for Christmas. The ornaments seemed personal, mostly cars and a motorcycle, and whoever placed them there made sure they wouldn’t blow away in the winter wind. It was obviously done with great care. As I photographed I noticed that some of the graves around were also decorated.
Who did this? Why? Definitely not the names on the stones themselves, but the names they left behind, that was obvious, but I wrestled with why as I walked along. As I reached the top of a hill, a blast of chilly air hit me in the face, and I knew right away it was Bob. “You idiot.” I felt he was telling me. “Death is something we all struggle to make sense of, and we all find our own way to deal with it. Some curl up in a ball, some decorate the graves of their lost ones and some walk, camera in hand, trying to make sense of it all. Now go take some more photos, Slick, and you don’t have to remember to email me anymore, I see them the second you take them.”
I will Bob. In fact, just help me out sometimes, move the clouds a bit so I can get the perfect light or something ok?
I’ll see you some day. Until then, stay outta trouble.
Below are the shots I took that day. To see more of the Cemetery Shots that Bob loved so much visit my Flickr Set