Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Crepuscule with Nellie

Did you ever watch David Lynch's TV series, Twin Peaks?  The theme tune to that programme had a certain mood to it -- a swooning, early-evening feel that is best captured by that ugly word, "crepuscular".  The French expression entre chien et loup ("between dog and wolf") is used to refer to the moment of transition at twilight, and there is no English equivalent that captures so well that liminal, dangerous, but exciting feeling. 




It's not an easy time of day to photograph: sunsets are best avoided, both for technical reasons and reasons of taste, and a good crepuscular sky is rarely accompanied by a suitably-illuminated landscape.  Getting up high can make all the difference.  This view from Old Winchester Hill is always worth a 40 minute drive on a winter's afternoon:





But for most of us, that time of day is an urban experience.  Bus stations always seem particularly crepuscular:



But it's a feeling, as much as anything, and feelings are sometimes best rendered in an impressionistic way (even if only accidentally, as here):



I swear, one day I will learn to use a tripod...

The post title, in case you don't recognise it, is a piece by Thelonious Monk, King of the Hats.

15 comments:

Martin said...

I didn't recognise the title, Mike. Now listening to it, courtesy of Spotify. It complements your photographs, nicely.

Mike C. said...

Martin,

Monk is the Man.

Nellie is his wife, though if you don't know the story, his other relationship with Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter is worth reading up.

Nobody has worn more idiotic hats with more style than Thelonious Sphere Monk.

Mike

Kent Wiley said...

Surely that 1/2 hour between sunset and civil twilight is my favorite time of day. Entre chien et loup definitely sounds better.

Tripod?! Ha Ha Ha!!

Mike C. said...

Kent,

Don't laugh, I've got one somewhere. Actually, I did take a "gorillapod" out with me this afternoon, but forgot it was there...

Mike

Kent Wiley said...

Sorry Mike, I'm laughing. No doubt you do have a tripod - somewhere. I don't get the gorillapod thing. You need something to hang it on - like a tripod!

Mike C. said...

Kent,

A gorillapod is a token tripod -- it means you know you should use one, but can't be bothered to carry a real one.

"Amulet" is the word that springs to mind... Perhaps I should get a tiny one-inch tripod made, and hang it round my neck.

Mike

Kent Wiley said...

At least that way you could say you always have a tripod with you.

Kent Wiley said...

And then get a 1/2" camera to attach to it.

zythophile said...

Which jazz piano player kept stealing things?

Felonious Monk.

Not that T Monk stole anything - a truly great original.

Martyn Cornell

eeyorn said...

Never did get to listen to much modern jazz, though have usually liked what I've heard. And in any case I lost my entire CD and bootleg collection as a result of my Bulgarian adventure.

I fear a major bout of musical consumerism may beset me once Dad's house get sold :)

I too love the light of the early morning, but sadly neither my Digital camera or phone seem to cope with it well. Perhaps you can give me some advice on buying a real camera please Mike?

Mike C. said...

eeyorn,

If there is one thing guaranteed to make any photographer cross, it is to suggest that the reason their work is good is because they have a good camera.

If you want to buy a real camera, go to a real camera shop.

Mike

eeyorn said...

I wasn't suggesting that at all Mike. I was merely stating that for me, taking photos in low light result in poor pics (IMO) on the only 2 devices I have available to take photos. Sorry if it came over differently.

zythophile said...

One of the reasons I love my Sony NEX-5 is because it is brilliant at taking low-light photographs: I'm an utterly crap photographer, but when something works well, these days, it's a combination of luck and the genius of Sony's engineers. This, for example, was taken shortly after sunset,with an 18-200 zoom (the NEX version of a 50-400, I believe) and looks vastly better than it did in real live because of all the light the camera (which was rested on an iron railing[!]) was able to take. Hurrah for technology!

Martyn

Dave Leeke said...

You should Photoshop that, Martyn and make it a Rene Magritte-style take.

Oh, and by the way, I've always thought that that should be "guerilla pod."

Mike C. said...

Martyn,

It's true what you say about the software in digital cameras, to a degree, though the basic mechanics of a camera are unchanged from film days: shutter speed, aperture, and the varying sensitivity and properties of the light-sensitive surface are the only variables.

Where the engineers can help is deciding how to combine these, in instant response to the light intensity and distribution detected coming into the camera. You'll notice that the dark areas in your photo have blacked out, for example, though I'll bet there was plenty visible to your eye at the time. The software has chosen to "expose for the highlights" -- always a good choice with digital.

Sony are kicking arse at the moment: if I had a spare £3,500 I'd be in the queue for an RX1 right now...

Mike