Last night, I spent more than an hour in the biting cold. I broke away from the disillusioning daze of my fourth consecutive working weekend and a forecasting model that has rendered my short-term future rather bleak, and spent a bitterly cold February night out in the snow. By the time I stepped back into my regular cafe for some much need warmth - my eyes bleary, my ears stinging and my fingers numb - I didn't even get close to what I sought to achieve. And yet, I was deliriously happy.
Last night I spent an hour trying to capture the ethereal beauty of a neighbourhood church-tower in the moonlight. I struggled through camera and skill roadblocks to get that strange beauty and aloneness that strikes me everytime I see the tower on my way home from the Metro station. For that one hour, that's was all there was to it. The ageless moon, an ancient church steeple, a mere passer-by trying to preserve time in light and shadow, and the church-bell that struck twice during the whole charade. Until I wound up, I didn't notice how cold it was (-25 is pretty cold - even by Montreal's standards) or how the old tramp at the station was watching me enrapt. And when I finally retreated to nurse a blissful defeat with a triple-venti-latte, I had begun to think I had found my calling.
Before you conclude that I'd throw my well-paying job to shoot amateur photographs that have barely begun to merit free publishing, this is a different "calling". This is a search for that transient beauty that I believe pervades all things great and small. It's the quest for a world view - a way to put the blocks together and truly understand how you see things. People do it in different ways - some through music, some through words, some through a burgeoning bank-balance. And surprisingly, even the latter isn't bad if you truly believe in it! My own journey started with religion and then poetry. But of late, life has turned towards seeking that perfect frame in everything I see - that unique light, aperture and depth of focus in which even the plastic bag that I see outside in the slushy dirt can be beautiful... Once you've looked through a viewfinder a sufficient number of times, your vision is altered forever. No matter where you are, you are always looking for an interesting angle that unearths a different aspect of a scene, a moment that captures the essence of a place, a face that tells the tale of a life - suddenly there a glass-roofed ride through life and you have the best seat! You learn to meditate over moments that'd have slipped by meaninglessly.
There are couple of reasons why I chose photography. One, it is very similar to my other love - haiku. It's also about the gestalt of moments that are greater than the hour! The second one - it is the one feel where I have truly started working at! Most things have come easy to me. Academics, money, writing, an average expertise in sport - I don't remember ever consciously working for any of them. And the almost universal subset of everything else that I am not good at - music, running, painting et al - I have never wanted enough to work at. But photography fascinates me - it pushes me too see things and then battle hard to capture what I see.
Last night, I got a few rather disappointing pictures (the first few you see on the left above). But what's heartening is the knowledge that the perfect shot is out there. There exists a certain way to shoot the church-tower under the moon that surpasses all others. And I shall strive to achieve that - tomorrow, next weekend, on summer nights may be... Forever if that's what it takes! And if it eludes me, I'll take to my grave a few thousand imperfect pictures and a life well-lived!
Below are pictures from a few lazy Sundays - I call it couch-clicking :D