Monday color 17,241

Duke Chapel at sunset
I’m doing that count from memory, so I’m not exactly sure that’s the right number, but it’s somewhere up there, anyway.

As I was going to meet with a student at Duke University at 5:30 last Tuesday, Duke chapel suddenly became visible between the buildings, illuminated by the setting sun, and the stark coloration naturally grabbed my attention. Extending well above the trees and surrounding buildings, the bell tower captured the light of the sun as it was dropping to the horizon while just about everything else was in shadow. White balance was set for full sunlight, which basically means no correction, though I admit I tweaked this a little bit – I bent the curve a tad towards blue for the sky alone, which would have reduced yellow by the same margin – the effect to the tower itself was not even visible.

Many years ago I was working for a place that printed the school newspapers, and I would go to another building nearby at 1 am to pick up the pasteups, driving up chapel Drive directly towards one face of the tower. The chapel is always lit by floodlights from all four sides throughout the night, but on one particular night, during an extremely dense fog, the floodlight on my side was out while the remaining three were still alight. The effect was fantastic, the dark silhouette of the elaborate tower standing out against the brilliant white of the floodlit fog that twisted and billowed gently like steam. See those faint patches of sky peeking through the bell openings at midpoint? Yeah, the light was coming through those too. The appearance of a horned demon with glowing eyes, looming from the smoke of the pits, was undeniable – and alas, I wasn’t carrying a camera, nor could I easily go back to get it. Probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so it remains a regret of mine, but I’ve gotten a couple of other nice pics since then, so I guess I’m okay…

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