I’m always amazed by how much more beautiful winter mornings are when compared to their summer counterparts. It’s the combination of mist and frost with the late sunrise, I think – it makes it possible for me to take pictures like the one above without getting up obscenely early.
When I first got a smartphone two years ago, I took advantage of the camera to take numerous photos of sunrises. Pretty quickly, I discovered the problem with a touch screen: when your fingers are icy cold from taking pictures in freezing temperatures, the phone won’t recognise them. It must be awful for Frost Giants; someone should really look into that.
Most of the photos I took were on my phone, because they weren’t planned, so I had to use whatever camera I had with me. And most of them were shots of my school field, because I often arrived at sunrise. It’s large and usually deserted at that time, so it’s perfect for a little amateur photography.
The photo above was taken on Thursday, after a miserable morning where I’d missed my bus and been obliged to walk through fog and very thick frost (I thought it was snow for a moment).
The mist gathered over the school grounds and the frost on the grass combined to make something beautiful, even though they had made my journey more difficult and unpleasant.
That’s kind of the point of art, though, isn’t it? Many things make our lives hard, but capturing them in a piece of writing or visual art can be stunning, even when its subject is serious or painful.
When reading, I’ve noticed that the most beautifully written scenes are the ones where characters are suffering physical or emotional pain, because the intensity of emotions comes across so well. Breakdowns can often result in truly stunning prose – The Dream Life Of Sukhanov by Olga Grushin is the best example that comes to mind.
And these are traumatic to experience. Sometimes even reading them can cause a great deal of distress. But they’re beautiful.
In writing I find I draw on my negative experiences more often than the positive ones, though this might be because I write tragedies. I take the difficulties I’ve experienced in order to add emotional depth to my novels, and as well as being cathartic for me, this usually results in far better writing.
Those experiences made my life more difficult and often miserable, but they resulted in beauty. In art.
There’s a scene in the Australian show Dance Academy where the protagonist Tara is told that she’ll become a truly great artist the day she learns to dance through her grief, to channel her pain and loss into her performance. By that point I’d been crying for four episodes straight – the end of season two was brutal, don’t judge me – but that line stayed with me.
When you’re delayed and frozen by the ice and fog, turn it into art. Because it will be stunning.
This post was kind of spontaneous, inspired by the last photos I took on my old phone and written on its replacement (so if there are typos, you know why). But it struck me that during hard times, it can be comforting for me to think, “it’s all research!” Perhaps I’m just odd…
I don’t know. What do you think? (Should I become a photographer of sunrises instead of a writer? I’m kidding. Maybe as well as a writer.)
Let me know!