The big trip to England seemed as good a time as any to break out my long-neglected “nice” camera. It’s this beautiful, expensive piece of equipment that, much like my state-of-the-art video camera that only shoots SD, was outpaced by the breakneck pace of casual technology not long after I spent too much money on it.
Or so I thought.
I used the nice camera, in addition to my iPhone’s pretty decent built-in camera, for the first week in England before deciding that it was just a bit too much trouble. A big factor was that I had no way of getting the pictures off of the camera until I got home, which ruined the instant gratification I’ve grown accustomed to with my photos. I couldn’t share them or even really see what they looked like on a decent-sized screen. I couldn’t find my lens cap. I kept almost dropping the thing. Eventually, I started to leave it behind in the hotel room and switched to my phone full time.
Today, almost a month after returning home, I finally got around to transferring my nice camera photos from that first week onto my computer.
Sigh. Maybe I should have kept toting it around. Just the saturation of color in these images is breathtaking. No filter needed.
But as long as we’re talking visual arts, I’ll refer to the oldest eyesight metaphor in the book: Hindsight is 20/20. I have a lot of lovely photos and videos from my trip, and unearthing this handful of lovely pictures has given me a real rush of pleasure. For example:
The above image is of a photo that I thought I “didn’t get.” From where I stood, it seemed like the light was in the wrong place, and I might as well stop trying and just move on. I’m delighted to find that the actual effect is this perfectly celestial lens flare. (Click on it to get a closer look)
I took the photo the day we arrived in Wells, which means it was the day that we touched down in London after a 10-hour flight, then spent a few hours trying to get out of Heathrow, then rode a coach bus several hours down farm-lined highways to check into our Wells hotels and try to stay awake for the rest of the day to fend off jet lag.
My roommate, Lauren, and I agreed that the very best way to stay awake would be to go exploring. It was easy to pick a starting point: literally across the street from our hotel was the entrance to the park-like cathedral green, and at its edge, the massive medieval work of art that would be our office for the next week. We wandered up to and past the cathedral, into the Bishop’s Palace next door, where we were delighted to discover an honest-to-god moat. With swans. Lauren is a seasoned traveller to England and perked up when she saw the ice cream truck at the far end of the walk selling 99 Flake ice cream. I was unfamiliar with the treat, but was happy to make its acquaintance.
Our walk continued until we found ourselves down a winding alley. Keeping our eyes out for a path back to the high street, we marveled at the street signs, the parking lots, the disjunction of seeing parking lots beside craggy medieval stone dwellings, a paper advertisement for a music venue called “The Venue”; we marveled at pretty much everything. Hanging outside the doorway of one of these alley homes was something particularly marvelous: this wrought-iron (maybe?) sign. There was lovely poetry on both sides, but even alone, the sentiment is stirring:
“For men below and saints above
For love is heaven and heaven is love.”
Of particular interest is the way that the second phrase not only scrolls along from the bottom to the top, but is also primarily – but not entirely – backwards, as mirror writing. It also flips upside down at the top, so that if you were to unfurl the scroll into a straight line, not only would it be backward, but the part that’s not backward would be upside down. And the “s” in the final “is” would be both backward AND upside-down.
I have not done any research. I don’t know the date or purpose or any piece of the provenance of this little flagpiece. I don’t even know what it’s called. “Flagpiece” just sounded right, so I typed it. I didn’t write down or take a photo of the back side of it, or the shop beside it, so I don’t recall what the rest of the sentiment was.
But just as it is, isn’t it spectacular?