A photograph may capture a millisecond of natural or man-made light. A Medieval or Renaissance manuscript may have been burnished with specks of gold, or had pressed upon its elaborate painted designs a curling filigree from nearly see-through sheets of silver.
Nearly all illumination is incapable of being duplicated. Like my husband Jim, it is one-of-a-kind.
My own photographic efforts to capture illumination are more quotidian: some of my children (and many of the drivers stopped behind me in lines of Boston traffic) tire of my continuing craving to capture images of the sun lighting morning after morning, cloud after cloud.
“They’re all clouds and trees! How many pictures of them do you need?” My daughter exclaims as she watches me download yet another series of quick shots.
Jim was far more daring and skilled–and whimsical–in lighting both dawn and the night. On the same freezing night we walked the streets of Paris and he transformed streetlights into a dazzling blurred neon blue and green Mondrian, he paused and positioned me and took a series of photographs for his amusement.
Although I didn’t realize it at the time (and one may note my look of befuddlement, but Jim was very persuasive), he even situated me amid a sea of flying neon snakes, wrapping one around me to garnish me with an unearned (but name-appropriate) halo.
It is difficult to illuminate and capture the night. Jim did it sublimely. He preserved fireworks from the final Fourth of July with friends. He left me with breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. He found sunlit flora and fauna on both sides of the equator; now we still can see them as he did. During our last trip to visit one of our children at school, he crept out late at night and brought me back a gorgeous full moon.