Humboldt County, California
A couple of stones’ throws north of the Humboldt-Mendocino county line in rural southern Humboldt County, California, I watched the moonlight wash away the Milky Way and bathe the land in its pale glow.
“Cold-hearted orb that rules the night,” I thought, recalling lines from the Moody Blues,
“Removes the colors from our sight.
“Red is grey, and yellow white,
“But we decide which is right
“And which is an illusion.”
Indeed. It has been said that the camera doesn’t lie, but in fact, mine hardly ever shows me what I saw with my own eyes. If you have followed me, you will certainly agree. So, does the camera record reality? Or do our eyes? Maybe it isn’t one or the other, nor even anywhere in between. Maybe reality is off to the side. Maybe there is more than one reality.
So what was it really like that night? Was it as still a night as it had seemed to me, standing as I was at the edge of the meadow, the stars hanging motionless in the sky overhead and a colorless, dimly illuminated landscape spread before me? It seemed so to me. I sat with the cameras for an hour, every glance assuring me that the stars were fixed in place, the moonlight motionless across a terrain robbed of its hues.
But the cameras were enjoying their own worlds. Taking one photograph after another over the course of several hours, they were each looking at the night in 20-second slices, a new look recorded every few seconds. These “stills” contained stars elongated from their travel across the sky, and the land was not only bright as day, but in full color as well. Over the course of several hours, my two cameras captured around 900 such individual images, each one ever so slightly different as the moonlight slid across the land and the stars crept across the sky.
I strung all the photos together to make the frames of the accompanying time-lapse video to present a camera’s long and patient interpretation of that slice of that night. It’s not what I saw. But it is what happened.
More Timelapse Videos: For more timelapse videos of Humboldt County, see my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/DavidWilson-Frumius