August 20, 2009

Sky Shine


Our flight from Geneva to Amsterdam last fall lifted off very early in the morning. Sleepy, spent, but satisfied following a wonderful vacation, I sat quietly gazing out the window.

As a child I remember a short flight to Chicago the first time I ever rode on an airplane. Looking out the window as we were preparing to land in Chicago I exclaimed that I wanted a game just like that, with little houses and trees neatly arranged on a grid where I could see it all at once.

After many years and many trips I am still awed by the view from my airplane window. Flying in and out of PDX the Cascade mountains often jut up in greeting just outside my window. Flying to Europe it is sometimes possible to make out a splendid coastline. On the way to Japan a clear day reveals the gentle folds of its interior landscape and the more densely populated coastal areas.

On this trip I had already been treated to a view of glistening rivers and lakes sparkling like a jeweled necklaces through the Scottish Highlands and the soft rolling landscapes of France that transcend differences in nationality and simply look like my childhood home. None of these spectacular views, however, were nearly as remarkable as what I saw unfold outside my window that quiet morning.

Leaving Geneva, we lifted off and rose above a layer of clouds, dim and gray, that veiled the landscape below. As the sun rose and our plane reached an altitude above the clouds, I realized that the texture in the distance was the top of the Alps stretching into the sky. Above those peaks was another layer of dark clouds. Our plane traveled pleasantly enough sandwiched between these layers.

Then, suddenly, the sun broke out between those layers too. Rising in its arc it illuminated our space between the clouds revealing the texture of the bumpy rolls and soft white cloud waves beneath us and the wispy swirls in the currents of clouds above. In between the light of the sun echoed and bounced through the lens of my camera. the images I captured show the playful delight of the scene, a sort of orbital illusion, an echoed geometric brilliance.

The image I captured was interesting but dim, grainy and unstable. Here I have added enhancements to bring out the color and shape, the amazing texture and in-between-ness with fewer distractions from the obviously poor photographic quality of the image. I think the result is kind of nice.