I admit that I went a little crazy yesterday with the iPhone’s application “Hipstomatic” set on “random,” shooting whatever caught my eye like Dustin Hoffman’s “Rainman” character on a roadtrip in Europe. Colors aren’t true. Images aren’t in full register. Things are just out of whack (which is, of course, the whole point of the software). But every now and then, the camera, in all its filtered frenzy, tells an amazing Truth. It captures not reality, but the exact emotional quality of the moment. And such was the case yesterday.
Inside the Mont Blanc tunnel, heading in either direction, we always play a game. Everyone in the car must predict what the weather will be like on the other side. As weather forecasts in France and Italy have been full of Biblical rains the past couple days, we all said, “Gray. Heavy skies. Deeply and disturbingly overcast. Raining. Cats and Dogs,”—all of us, that is, except my youngest, who cheerfully intoned, “There will be some clouds with patches of blue sky.” This comment was lightheartedly dismissed as meteorological immaturity, but the little bugger was right. When we emerged from the tunnel, the world was wildly bright and brilliant, dramatic and surreal. The wild upward tilt of the mountain against an unsettling blue sky paired with the gaudy colors of autumn was more than we could have hoped for. The “Hipstomatic” released its fake shutter with a self-satisfied chirp: “Leave it to me. I’ve got this covered.”
For the skeptics out there, I’ve desaturated the image with this rather “documentary” result. It lacks the appropriately psychedelic exuberance of the first image, but it gives you the raw graphic ingredients so that you may interpret them as you wish with your own mind’s eye. Suffice it to say, it was, as it almost always is, the kind of stunning that no camera can really do justice. All you can do is see, marvel and cling to the memory which is instantaneously distorted by what you “think” you saw. I leave you with two lines from one of my favorite poems, “Here in Katmandu” by Donald Justice: “One looks up at the mountain. / What else is there to do?”
[If you enjoyed this post, you might also be interested in “The Other Side.”]