Since Covid-19 started I have been using daily walks to find some stress relief. On a recent beautiful morning, I put on my sunglasses and headed out. As I reached the crest of a large hill, I noticed a sun halo. I love seeing this trick of the atmosphere. Sun halos happen when thin cirrus clouds combine with tiny ice crystals to create a 360-degree rainbow.
As a photographer, I'm endlessly fascinated by how light bends and changes our world; rainbows are a perfect example of this. When light is refracted through something (say an ice crystal) it separates out the different wavelengths of that light and we see all of the colors light can bring. I took off my sunglasses to get a better view and the halo disappeared from sight. So, I pulled out my crappy cell phone camera and took the photo you see. I did a little bit of adjusting to the exposure in camera so the halo would be visible because at first, the camera couldn't see it, just like my eyes without my sunglasses.
After snapping the photo I continued on my walk but I couldn't help but ponder on a few things. First, I kept thinking about how grateful I was for sunglasses. I never used to wear them but a few years ago I had to get glasses and wearing them outside in the bright sun was intolerable. I gave in and bought prescription sunglasses which I now guard like a miserly old spinster.
In photography, we use exposure compensation to help the camera add or subtract light according to how the photographer wants the images to look. Adjusting the exposure caused the detail in the houses and trees to disappear. This is actually a good thing, the houses are not the subject and their silhouette actually makes the image more interesting because now it shows scale. (Please don't misunderstand and assume that I think this photo is some sort of masterpiece. It's a low-quality snapshot at best. But as the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you.)
Photography has taught me to be aware of distractions and change how I view things. It has trained me to adjust exposures and put on sunglasses so I can see the subtle beauty right in front of me. As I walked I couldn't help but think about how the idea of exposure compensation could improve my life. What if I let go of the details I didn't need? What if I always remembered to be open to new points of view? What if I focused less on what camera I was using and more on the creative process? What if I was more willing to step outside my own point of view and look through someone else's lens? As America and the world struggles to understand 2020 and all that has happened this year I can't help but think we need to practice the lessons that photography can teach us all.
Then my thoughts turned to the rainbow itself. Rainbows have a lot of cultural significance to us. As a Christian, I see rainbows as a promise that storms will pass, and hope can be restored. As a mom of a gay son, I see rainbows as a daily reminder that my kid is perfect just as he is. And as a woman who desperately wanted a baby once but miscarried, I see rainbows as a reminder that I was blessed with two awesome kids after that pregnancy and that I didn't fail or cause the loss of that baby. Finally, as a lover of science, I see the physics that makes it all possible and still think it's miraculous.
Photography makes it possible for me to take all of those thoughts and feelings and put them into pixels. I can translate light into color, then into bytes, and finally symbols and share that with you. If that isn't the best thing ever I don't know what is.
Just for fun, I've included a few photos of what my family has been up to during quarantine. My daughters let me do some portraits of them, we marched in a #BlackLivesMatter protest in Lake Stevens, We have talked to the kids ALOT about what that means, and We also did sidewalk chalk, and baked more than I will admit.