Brilliant Darkness 


I love looking at this picture of this single oak leaf against a low-hanging winter sun. The glowing russet draws my visual focus to its veins, midrib and sinuses. The brilliance of the sunshine radiates from the top-right-hand corner of the petiole. In fact, I was pleased with how it came out. 

But I was trying to capture something else by pointing my camera directly to the light source. I moved towards, and away from, the object. I reangled the focal directions a few times. I tiptoed and stood back down. Then I held my breath, like the moment before I pulled the trigger in my shooting practice in the army. I pressed the shutter button. I hoped that I didn’t miss it.

The feature that really captures my imagination is the diamond of a tiny glint at the bottom of the right hand side of the leaf – through a minute rip in the lobe – four of the pin-sharp light beams like icy thorns. Inconspicuousness is precisely its intense strength and its purest beauty.

Like many things in life, there are events and people who demand our immediate attention, and their conspicuousness can be overwhelming. Firstly, their brilliance wows us; their confidence intimidates us and their brightness blinds us. Dazed, we easily overlook many of life’s real treasures: an ostensibly insignificant event that profoundly shapes our lives; a casual encounter that rekindles our long-forgotten emotions, an unexpected experience that inspires us to reevaluate our beliefs. 

We blink. Behind our eyelids, the radiance becomes a cloud of darkness. We realise that the most dazzling is not always the most lasting. We find values often in places where the bright light doesn’t reach. 

Maybe that’s how they retain their purity, unbleached by the blinding brightness.

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About W. S. Lien

Tweed Wearer - Country Lover - Teacher Researching Professionalism and Identity@Clare College, Cambridge - Keen Amateur Photographer - Devotee to Poppy my Labrador
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