Different Light

I wanna paint your portrait
And hang on your colors on my wall
Discussing form and content
With my friends and drinks
And no one thinks at all

In A Different Light, the Bangles

When I was a new railfan, I didn’t understand the quality of light. I just took pictures, no matter what the light was and where the sun was. Most of my pictures weren’t very good.

Over time, I grew to understand that the “right” light can make or break a photo. Watching photographers like Bill Linley and Geoff Doane and David Morris study a scene before taking their position made me realize that there were something to “making” a photograph rather than “taking” a picture.

Last Saturday morning, I spent an hour or so on the CN main line at mile 17.9 waiting for an eastbound train. Why eastbound, you ask?

It was around 9:30 AM and the morning sun was still bright and relatively low to the horizon. That meant it would shine onto the nose of an eastbound train, while it would backlight any westbound trains.

You can see it clearly here. CN sent me a westbound train first (above) before gracing me with an eastbound train (below). Both photographs were taken from the same location.

Different light, indeed.

I’ve learned to love that sweet, warm morning light and the soft light of sunset.

”High sun” around noon often casts harsh, deep shadows and is not optimal for most photography. Fortunately for us in the northern parallels, noon sun in the winter is not very high!

That nice low sun also lets you pick up on details that are obscured in shadow around noon.

The Bangles didn’t sing much about trains, but they titled their second album and lead song “Different Light”.

worst. segue. ever.

I was and still am a big Bangles fan. Like many young men I was entranced by Susanna Hoffs in the “Walk Like an Egyptian” video.

Those eyes. Sigh.

I loved their music. It was a great blend of rock and pop, a little more mature than the Debbie Gibson type of pop being released at the time. I bought all three of their albums* and enjoyed almost every song on them.

There wears a lot of tension in the band between Hoffs and lead guitarist Vicki Peterson,as the media portrayed Hoffs as the lead singer. On the albums, all four were lead singers. However, the Bangles’ hits tended to be the ones with Hoffs as lead singer, like Eternal Flame and In Your Room… and Manic Monday.

After they split up in 1989, Hoffs started her solo career and the other members did their own projects. They reunited in 2003 and have released two more albums since their initial breakup. I don’t think they are active now.

The music is still great. Bangles forever!

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