Crepuscular Manipulations

That dim light which characterizes dawn and dusk is “crepuscular” light. Those rays of light we sometimes see radiating from holes and edges of clouds are called “crepuscular rays”. Some call these “God’s Rays”. When rays of sun pierce holes in a cloud deck, those slanting aerial sunbeams are christened “Jacob’s Ladders”. “Le crespuscule” in French is “twilight” or “sunset”. The Scots call this time the “gloaming”.

Crepuscular waves seen from South Beach, Martha’s Vineyard

At the darkest moments during a solar eclipse, birds and insects display crepuscular activity. Some get active, others go to sleep. Light intensity, or lack of intensity,  is a powerful stimulus.  During the eclipse mentioned in the Carly Simon song, “You’re So Vain”, I was cutting brush in what is now the Wishetwurra Farm garden. As totality approached (we didn’t quite reach totality on the Vineyard, darn it), evening birdsong began. At peak darkness, doves were alighting into roosts for the night.

Another memory from that March 7, 1970 day is the airplanes. So many airplanes! I don’t remember any learjets, but up to the peak moments of the eclipse, the sky was full of small airplanes, all heading southeast, to get into the zone of complete darkness. After the eclipse was over, the traffic flow reversed, as pilots and their passengers flew northwest, and home.

A few evenings ago, crepuscular light stimulated a camera expedition. In the fifteen or twenty minutes before dark fell, I traveled about forty feet from the door, and accumulated over five dozen images, which after downloading, became fodder for digital manipulation.

I love sharp photos of nature, taken from a centimeter’s distance, but I also love light and color, and take pleasure in what can be found or extracted from long exposures. None of the images in this post are as-taken. Apologies to you take-it-as-it-comes purists. Remember, the great Edward Weston said “photographs are made, not taken”.

Crepuscular manipulations at Wishetwurra Farm. We are looking northwest.

This spring, intensely orange Siberian Wallflowers made an appearance in the home flowerbeds, courtesy of a packet of mixed perennials seeds started last year.

Siberian Wallflower. Cheiranthus allionii

There are few flowers as intense as the wallflower.

Moving along, we come to hosta territory.

There’s lots of motion in these two pictures.

The plant was standing still.

But I wasn’t.

And neither was the camera.

I like hostas for their variety. They come in many shades of  greens, including blue green, regular green, even chartreuse, with stripes and variegations for added interest. They’re shade tolerant, strong plants. Different species bloom at different times of the growing season. I have some large types that are three feet tall, with leaves 15″ by 12″. And some little guys with leaves 4″ by 3″, who cannot seem to grow taller than 8 to 10 inches.

In the next bed, a little higher up and near a retaining wall, a peony is making ready for the night voyage. Ants have tended the peony ship in budding, and they still perform a few duties as ship’s crew. White sails are set.

Hard by the peony, what is that?

It’s the muted floral pyrotechics of nighttime chives.

Beard of iris, landing strip for aviators apian, waits for morning’s flights.

Tabernaemontana playfully tickles the twilight.

Tabernaemontana. The blue milkweed.

At the end of the expedition, forty feet from the deck door, are the rhododendrons.

Their trumpets play “taps” for those who can hear the song.

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