President’s Column: The Missed Image

Memory cards have no emotions. Our brain’s memory does. We are fortunate. There is something valuable in missing an image occasionally, for not having a camera at that special moment when the light was supreme, the colors astounding, and the subject captivating. It’s an opportunity to dream and to periodically resurrect in one’s memory the emotions of that missed arresting moment.

BrainAs it happens, I have more vivid, clear remembrances of a few, missed images than of those I committed to a memory card. My most memorable “missed” image goes back more than twenty years. I can still easily retrieve it from my brain. Over five hundred megapixels, human eye HDR rendition. It was at night. Yacht racing in the Pacific, several miles off the Mexican coast. A clear crisp night. A good breeze filling the sails. Gliding over smooth waters of low rolling waves.

On the eastern sky, a few degrees above the horizon, a full moon. Bright enough to fully illuminate the boat and rigging. Then the memorable moment unfolded. The breeze picked up. With it, a bank of low fog rolled in from northwest. As the fog started closing in, the moonlight projected the shadow of our boat on the wall of the approaching fog. An eerie, awe-inspiring image.

In the foreground the black ocean water with the foam of the bow wave. A soft, diffused, but detailed shadow of the boat with full sail projected on a wall of dense fog. Truly a magic memorable, unforgettable, unique image. Could a camera have captured the ghostly features of the scene in all it’s beauty and nuanced shades of blacks and greys and whites? Who knows? But my memory did.  And I can relive it any time, at any moment without having to open up my computer. And I can still share it …with words.

Nowadays everyone has a smart phone in the pocket at all times. There will be no more missed images.  Have we lost something with the advent of the ubiquitous smart phone? Yes, the chance to vividly commit to our own memory a rare moment, relive it, close our eyes and dream about it.