Effect of Sunlight in Photography

Cloud Optics

I began photographing clouds in 1995 accidentally, in preparing to speak at the J. B. Rhine memorial inside the annual international Parapsychology Association conference. The unexpected sky shots I caught in finishing off a roll of film stimulated me, bringing to mind that I had often dreamed of looking up and seeing “impossible” floating, shifting cloud panaromas; they had realistic scenes as in a movie, though now I was “filming” them by camera. Immediately I was attracted to experimentation with light.

“What we normally see exists only inside a visible range of light, and that excludes ultraviolet and infrared,” I thought. “What would be the effect if, in a photograph, you deliberately captured slight amounts of ultraviolet and infrared?” I asked this question after it looked like to me that had happened. This question excited the photography and turned it also into research.

To take the photographs, I would stare up into the sky and find myself being drawn into the clouds, feeling my state of awareness shift into meditation. I seemed to enter the cloud space, discovering edges that slowly delineated forms. Finally, at night, sitting in bed with my booklet of 4 x 6 prints, I would re-enter that mood. What at first looked very ordinary would sharpen, reveal images.

The shapes that this meditative, relaxed state brought out fed an impulse to create “paintings,” produced by the enlarged light range—as if Seeing into the Invisible, Beyond Where the Range of Our Sight Normally Stops.

My first exhibit was in Romania in the mid-90s (The Sun in Profile: So Bright It’s Dark). The title reflects the fact that in the  experimentation in the photography the background sky or the ground (buildings) might turn brown, when printed, in order to accommodate the whitest areas – with the most brilliant sunlight –  which otherwise would be a blown-out hole in the development. With what we normally see darkened (so that the ground objects were silhouettes), then we can sometimes see what we normally would not. The photography became a metaphor to me for seeing beyond our normal range, into subtle energy – because much is out there beneath or beyond what our vision brings to us. Not to mention the selectivity we use when seeing, our brains even blocking out some things that are in fact there or in other ways misleading us, as new science proves.

Examples of this photography are in Keep This Quiet! IV. As I took light body courses and became more meditative, this photography was a perfect outlet to express the new range of perception and awareness I began operating in. In fact, that quick, virtually instant descent into a meditative state brought on by staring at the clouds became a companion that brought joy similarly as the photographs, including when I would flip through the 4 x 6 booklets at night in bed and the clouds would open up once again and a mystical state descend over them and me, taking me inside their landscapes. Try it.


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