Light and Shadow


My favorite times of day are twilight and nighttime. During twilight, the sky’s colors are overwhelmingly beautiful. We often take photos of twilight, and I always find it funny. When we look back at those photos, they all seem to be very similar if not the same. When we took the photo, though, we were in awe. It seems that twilight is able to amaze us every day it comes, as if it’s new and fresh, and few photographs (especially those taken by a phone) are able to completely capture its grandeur.


The night in a city is wonderful. I love the lights and the shadows, the dark windows of a bar or café. In the downtown area of a city, the night is when adventure happens. Color is replaced by contrast; light competes with dark and we see the world in ways we haven’t seen before. In a way, man controls the light at night when he can’t control it during the day, and uses it how he sees fit. During the day, the sun decides where light goes, but at night light goes wherever we put our bulbs, and we can use this for dramatic effect. This is especially true during Christmas time, when we put out holiday lights. I look forward to walking through Temple Square, for example.

In Washington, D.C., all my friends said that the monuments on the Washington Mall were best seen at night. I saw the monuments both in daylight and at night, and I came to agree with them. During the day, the sun controls most of what is and isn’t lit, what we see and don’t see. At night, light can be incorporated into the design of the area. We would walk between islands of light, figures cast in shadow. During the daylight, there are visual distractions, while at night, all that can be seen is what is lit. This made for a different experience.

It was the perfect clash of light and dark, and I loved it.


In the suburbs, though, night and shadow are more intimidating. I remember walking along the side of a road that runs behind my neighborhood. To my left was a wall, and to my right was an open field. There were no lights along the entire route. As I walked, I began to think, “If someone wanted to, they could jump over that wall, mug me or kill me, drag my body into the field, and no one would be the wiser.” Even when I’m within the limits of my neighborhood, I am not a fan of walking at night. There is a creepy street lamp that seems to turn on and off at random intervals. Sometimes I will approach it and it will turn on. Other times, it will be on until I get near it. It’s as if the lamp detects my presence and turns on or off just to mess with me. It’s not right, man. It’s just not right. But on a more serious note, there’s a lot of dark places, and I can see why women might be more frightened to walk at night.

Then there’s the country. It’s very dark out there, but I have good memories. My grandparents own a farm on the outskirts of Blackfoot, Idaho. It’s dark enough to lie out in the grass on a summer night and look at the stars. There are so many that I am amazed. And I remember fondly walks along the road near my grandparents’ house when a lightning storm rumbled in the distance. The dark sky would be repeatedly pierced by amazing lightning formations. Every time a burst struck through the sky, we would be amazed. It was the perfect clash of light and dark, and I loved it.

I suppose I like the dark because of shadow, the contrast produced by the battle between light and dark. It’s difficult to describe why I like it, because one really has to see it to understand. I suppose it’s the same reason why black and white and film noire appeal to people; there is something innately beautiful to it.


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