Ephemeral. An odd-looking word, isn’t it? And yet I can visualize it moving in and out of one’s consciousness like gauze curtains billowing in a breeze. It’s defined as “lasting a very short time; short-lived; transitory.” Here’s what started this train of thought:
I stripped down, antiqued and rebuilt this chandelier. It resides on my patio, where it sparkles in the afternoon sun and glows at night. My love affair with chandeliers began when I was ten years old, in December 1966, and my 5th grade class took a field trip to the Los Angeles Music Center. We trooped into the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, where we viewed three gigantic chandeliers all lit up – I can’t remember anything else about that field trip. Just the chandeliers. They filled my entire field of vision. I was utterly captivated and fascinated by them – and that began my love affair with prismatic glass and the rainbows created by the prisms. I think you can see why:
(Yes. I do appreciate the delicious irony of seeing chandeliers at the Chandler Pavilion.)
I’ve been pondering why ephemeral items fascinate us so much and how we strive to capture them in photography and art. And who doesn’t love a good rainbow? There was a double rainbow not too long ago, which I managed to capture on my cell phone.
Don’t we all ooh and ahh over fireworks, too? Such fun taking these pictures on the Fourth of July…
What do they all have in common? Light. Light beyond our control. And light that flashes and sparkles and is gone in seconds, never to be captured or held. Ephemeral sights are magical, too: prisms and raindrops and the garden hose suddenly create rainbows in a twinkling. Explosions create glittering colors that light up the darkness.
One ephemeral memory takes place in 2001. I had to drive my daughter to her elementary school in Carbon Canyon early in the mornings, and on this particular morning, the sun was rising after a rainstorm. To our amazement, we saw a rainbow in the west – in pastel colors. Pale, silvery dawn colors that shimmered… I had to pull the car off the road so we could view it before it disappeared moments later.
In learning to use a DSLR camera and a high-end point & shoot camera, I’ve tried to get such moments and I’m fascinated by the differences in actually seeing them as they happen, in seeing the photographs, and in seeing, or revisiting, them in memory.
Oh, but such moments and sights are truly captured in our heart’s memory. There, they live on and are cherished, always attaining greater beauty and depth. And I’ll riddle you this: which is the most real? What we see, what we capture, or what we remember?