I notice light. Likely it is the photographer in me that makes that so. I always seem to be judging the quality and characteristics of light, even though I am not taking pictures 99% of the time. Light, or lack of it, has infinite characteristics, and it interests me, pulls me, makes me feel.

I am always a bit surprised to notice how light changes from place to place. One of the first things I can remember about moving here was the absolute blinding intensity and angle of the sun at sunrise and sunset, of course conveniently timed for rush hours. It’s like the sun is aimed straight at your eyes, head on, where sunglasses and the window shade in the car make little to no difference. I forget how far north this is sometimes, until it is summer and there is still decent light at 10PM. And then, now, beginning in the fall, the angle softens and the shadows lengthen, and soon the sun will be gone, replaced by low gray-white clouds that will rarely clear. Sometimes it becomes as dark as evening in the middle of the day, and you find yourself needing to turn the lights on. In the best outcome, it makes you want to put on a sweater, make some cocoa, read a book in front of a warm fireplace. In the not-so-best situation, you realize you have not smiled in days. The darkness brings a somber feeling, a closing-down, hibernation. It is no shock that Seattle is known for coffee, heroin, and suicide. What a lousy place for Kurt Cobain to be from, huh? Poor sod.

Maybe his compensation was stage light. My favorite place to shoot a concert has always been from behind the band, looking out into the audience. Normally, photographing from the front of the stage, a good shoot means you have taken some pictures that make viewers feel like they were in the audience, feeling that sweaty rock n’ roll energy and passion. But shooting from the player’s position, oh man. Seeing what they see through the lens of a camera, yet distanced enough to take the whole view in. You see why people give their lives to being onstage, how it feeds them. It’s a daunting thing, having a big bright white spotlight trained on you, waiting for you to do something wonderful. Of course, some people glow underneath the lights; they come alive, soak it up like a sponge. Some people, you can see a momentary cringe, but then they deal. Others won’t even look up.

I can remember being onstage once, alone and just standing there. I looked into the big white light, squinting, letting it blind me, trying to imagine things. Did you know that when that is shining, you really can’t see any further than the first few rows? So when someone says, “HOW YA DOIN’, CLEVELAND? AWRIGHT?” they are nodding and pointing at pretty much nothing. That amuses me.

I stared into the light for a while longer, and I stepped back, and looked at the steady bright beam catch dust and smoke in the air. I could see more away from it than in it.