Talking About Light With Dad | NFTGA Chapter 16

Perspective is an important thing. Dad has been living in the NYC area for 40 years, and staring out of the same office window for almost 30. He’s noticed something very cool, and with this week’s video he tells us about it…

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Video Transcript after the jump…

But this, this is… a wonderful, wonderful twilight hour. The sun is just inches over the… over the horizon, the light is coming… my shadow is extending 70 feet in front of me and it’s still a decent clear light. And this is not one of the great clear days that we’ve had, this is reminiscent of what a very good day… a very good day 50 years ago… or 40 years ago would have been like.

That is there… that is recording… umm… hello Dad

Hello Robert. I believe you’re interested in my reflections on the great… the joy of horizontal light. Which has come about well within the 40 odd years that I have lived in the New York area. When I moved here in the early 1970s the winter sky was more commonly grey yellow than any serious shade of blue.

Perhaps blue if you looked straight up. The sun would roll across Long Island it was so low in the sky. The amount of pollution in the air at that point was dramatic. You can probably remember going out on a sailboat in the late 70s, when we had to wash the boat before we went out on a weekend, for the amount of grime that it had accumulated during the week.

So as recently as the 1970s? Because you hear about maybe like Pittsburgh in the 1950s, or London in Victorian times…

This is, this is not like Beijing today, it was… but seriously the boat was dirty when we got to it on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning… and it wanted to be hosed off before we spent a weekend on it.

And that’s not the case today?

Absolutely not. The… you… you certainly want to wash your boat off when you bring it in after a days activity, but mostly you can leave them and they are pleasant to come back to weeks later, let alone days. And this… the diminution of the pollution, the particulates in the air, is most dramatic really at this time of day and even later when the sun comes in sideways. It never used to do that. It would come through… I mean it would come in sideways, it would cast shadows sideways, but very vague ones.

The sky was forever dirty and ugly and here you can see the house across the street with its… painted in white… and it’s brilliant, and horizontally lit. It’s a… this was all new… and a joy…

The difference in the atmosphere today from then is marvelous. Simply marvelous.

Do you have… do you know why that was? Just sort of a shift in the uh…

Well, I didn’t want to go political here but the… it has had a great deal to do with the rising economic fortunes of the area. We don’t need to pollute as much anymore, so we don’t. It’s been fairly broadly understood that community’s that become better off clean themselves without an immense amount of coercion.

Doesn’t have anything to do with Bush’s clean air act?

I’m not a close enough student to be able to say.

But I think you’re right. De-industrialization is… has positive effects.


And it’s made for a much nicer… much nicer sunset.