17 February 2010

Jacob's Ladders, Hawke Bay

Dawn over Hawke Bay.
We knew them as Jacob's Ladders when we were kids but that usage seems rare now. They're one of the forms of crepuscular rays, which have many vernacular names: I've most often found them called "God beams". I still prefer "Jacob's Ladders" but admit a fondness for the word "crepuscular".

We saw these at dawn at Flounder Bay last week; this is a cropped telephoto shot. I’d have loved a gannet to have cruised past as I pressed the shutter, but they were too far away to be recognisable as birds. [No—please don’t suggest adding one in Photoshop. :^) ]

All content © 2010 Pete McGregor


Barbara said...

My eye is drawn to the light stretching across the horizon, yet the photo erases any separation I feel between myself and the scene. Thank you.

Paul said...

I won't elaborate, but skies somewhat like this at sunrise and sunset come closest in replicating what you will experience as you die and enter the proverbial 'light.' During real time while you are assessing the shot, you must focus your gaze on the section closest to the most intense section of light in order to get the sense of what it will be like. But even so, this viewing experience, as wonderful as it, still pales in being able to describe the actual experience, and it is also beyond the capability that words of any language can accurately describe.

Anyway, glad you are back posting again!

Anne-Marie said...

I too have a fondness for the word "crepuscular". It sends creepy crawlies up my spine [in a good way].

We called them Fingers Of God at my school.

This isn't my favourite photo of yours but it's certainly spectacular. Love that distant light on the water.

butuki said...

We called them "Veils of Heaven" when I was a kid. That and "Motes of God". "Crepuscular rays" sounds too utilitarian to me.

I'd love to see this photo blown up huge, enough to fill an entire wall, and to just stand there, drawn in.

Zhoen said...

I remember seeing these as a kid, and noting they looked like the skies that show up in religious painting, but never had a name for them at all.

Crepuscular sounds too much like corpuscle, reminding me of red blood cells instead of streams of light.

leonie.wise said...

whatever they are called, this photo is stunning.

pohanginapete said...

Barbara, thanks. As Miguel (Butuki) says, it'd be interesting to see a huge print of this; perhaps the sense of being "in" the scene would be even greater? I don't know, but it'd certainly enlarge pretty well.

Paul, thanks :^) I've heard about near-death experiences and you might very well be right, although I'm not in a hurry to test it ;^)

Anne-Marie, I too love that line of light near the horizon, and was struck by how often it appeared, even when the Jacob's Ladders (or whatever you like to call them) weren't apparent.

Miguel, it's the word "crepuscular" that I like, but not necessarily when it's used in this context. I share Anne-Marie's feeling about the word; for me it evokes those mysterious times at dawn and dusk when so much might be stirring; when so much could be possible. And I agree about wanting to see this as a huge print (see my reply to Barbara).

Zhoen, my impression is that they do indeed show up in many religious paintings (so which came first, the various god-related names or the paintings?). Also, as I've pointed out to Miguel, it's the word "crepuscular" I like, but in this context, as Miguel says, it's boringly utilitarian (although sometimes my inclination to be perverse encourages me to prefer hard-nosed, "enlightened" terms).
"Corpuscular rays" would be an interesting sight. I wonder what they'd look like? ;^)

Thanks Leonie. Hope it reminds you of home in a good way :^)

christy lee-engel said...

Yes! I'd love a wall of this, like Miguel suggested!

As always when I see that kind of brilliance on water, the intense section of light that Paul suggests is what is waiting for us all - I find it thrilling, entrancing, alluring. I also love the texture of the water with the soft "smoothness" of the sky.

Michael said...

"Jesus clouds" for us. Usually pronounced as a curse and followed by "you're going to go to hell you know."

Lovely shot with or without birds.

pohanginapete said...

Christy; Michael — thanks :^)