Thursday, March 15, 2012

Big Clouds And Doing Electric Stuff

Yesterday around here we had clear skies all day. The temperature got up around eighty. But late in the afternoon some clouds blew through the area. It never rained, but some of the clouds were pretty big. Right after sunset I got to see that phenomenon I wrote about last July—Big Clouds, Big Scorpions, Doing Stuff—where a cloud is so big the top of the cloud is so high it remains in direct sunlight while the lower portion of the cloud is in shadow. I didn’t take a sequence of photographs this time because I had a lot of ground clutter around me, but I did get one good picture:

It is dark enough at ground level that the streetlights have turned on already. But the cloud is so big and the top is so high it is still bright in direct sunlight. You can see about three different color layers in the picture. The bright sunlight at top, then an orange glow where the sun is just below the horizon for that level, and then purple shadows at the lowest cloud level. And the ground in complete shadow.

This is not a high dynamic range photograph. I exposed the image to capture details on the clouds, so the foreground appears a little darker in the image than it appeared in real life. But I like the contrast of the bright sunlight on the cloud and the streetlight under the trees.

Sunlight on a cloud
and, under trees, a streetlight
that’s shining on me.

Seeing something that beautiful always makes me think of acoustic guitar music and watercolor paintings.

But then I shake my head, because I took a photograph, I didn’t make a watercolor painting, and I don’t even own an acoustic guitar any more!

What I did was at some point last night I sat in my room under electric lights and I set up my keyboard to play synth in the bass clef, left hand, and acoustic guitar in the treble clef, right hand, and I spent like an hour playing variations of this (if you click on the music you can see it a little better):

That’s just Em7, D7, CM7 and GM7.

Simple stuff like this is fun for me, trying to get my two hands to work together. I can play this. And I can take the basic harmony and melody and move things around a little, too.

And my arranger keyboard has some very nice acoustic guitar sounds. When I play this, I can actually picture the cloud starting bright and high and then sinking into a beautiful low shadow.

Sunlight on a cloud,
and synthesized guitar sounds
ringing around me.

Seeing something that beautiful always makes me think of watercolor paintings and acoustic guitar music.

And I took a photograph and played synthesizer.

It’s just like the scene: The beautiful real sunlight on the cloud, and then the tiny, dim electric light down under the trees.

So, anyway, that’s what I did yesterday. Could have been better. Could have been more analog and less digital.

But I had a lot of fun and I made a little music.

(And this is like a real sequel to what I wrote about last year when I saw the big cloud: I think it’s good to do stuff. Even if the stuff is simple and plain compared to what really skillful people can do. It’s just good to do stuff that's the best you can do at the moment.)

The cloud in sunlight and shadow did the really amazing stuff.

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