Friday, November 10, 2006

Let there be **Light**
The fall/winter sunlight in Berlin (when it rarely appears) is really a treat. Berlin is 1000 miles North of New York, i.e. so far north that the sun doesn't rise all the way in the sky, giving the light a permanent twilight feel and warm yellow color that paints objects with a golden glow. Also, because the sun laps around the sky rather than rise directly overhead, the light is always coming from a low angle, creating long shadows stretching out behind illuminated objects in that romantic, late-afternoon sort of way. OK, this little ode to winter sunlight is finished: here is a picture I took today at the Brandenburger Tor showing these effects.

(P.S. Two notes: Poking around in the ruins of Caesarea, an ancient Roman city on the Israeli coast, I stumbled on a particularly dark, empty tunnel with a small hole off-center in the ceiling. A plaque explained that this was a temple for a cult of sun-worshippers, and the hole was there to let in the light. So much religious architecture, such as cathedrals with their window-encircled apses, makes clever use of illumination, but I'd never seen a chamber so simply constructed for the regular worship of pure light.

Note two: Because it's so far north, the only thing that keeps Berlin warm is the Gulf Stream, which also keeps Scandinavia from turning into one big iceberg. But Berlin is on the eastern edge of the Gulf Stream, and it's striking how much colder it is only a couple hours away in Poland. I discovered this by surprise two winters ago and will never take the "warm" Berlin winter for granted again!)

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