Wednesday, December 20, 2006


In my office, I work with my back to the window. Just now I turned around and saw something I’ve never seen in life before, only in the darkroom: the light was trying to take over the picture.

The sky has been hazy all day, though “hazy” doesn’t describe the mood. I woke this morning to find a pink fog had settled into the gorge below my seventh story window, distinct and barely perceptible at the same time. But just now the white sky above Squirrel Hill (the hill not the neighborhood)--a sky of diffuse, post-foggy-morning light--is trying to eat the whole view. The light is hiding things rather than revealing them: I can’t see the tree branches on the top ridge of the hill where they meet the sky, the reflection coming off one rowhouse roof is brilliant-white, blinding me. The tiniest tree branches closer to me have become light, as have the electric lines. The newest and ugliest buildings are lower contrast, less noticeable than usual.

I’m reminded of my earliest days in photography, working with hopelessly overexposed shots I nonetheless was determined to print to my liking, because I had been there, on that day, because I liked that composition, because I wanted that record of my angle of witness. But those skies never budged, not without minutes of exposure under the enlarger, sending the rest of the scene into blackened oblivion; those skies over train tracks, over low mountains, over four-story brick buildings; those skies of silver, dense and stubborn on the negative.

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