One of the noticeable differences between living in Texas, at least this part of Texas, and New York City, at least the Manhattan part — not that there’s really any other part that can reasonably be called “New York City” — is the sky.
Quality and quantity.
Above is a photo I took this morning exactly ten minutes after sunrise. I’ve taken more than a hundred of these from the same angle and same time (10 minutes after sunrise) since early February of this year, and at some point I’ll be putting these into coffee table book format.
Studying the same scene over and over, I feel a bit like Monet with a camera instead of a brush and with anonymity without the inevitable real estate on the walls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Also, Monet repeatedly studied lillipads, which I can’t do unless I get a GoPro for my camera and paddleboard out into the Guadalupe. Believe me, I’ve considered it.
There are a lot of reasons to appreciate the Texas sky. The two most obvious ones are its quantity — it’s Big-Ass — and quality.
Texas skies are big.
I took this photo on September 4, 2018.
I still remember how I pulled onto Comanche Trace Drive leading into the golf course community where we live and seeing this through the passenger side window.
Comanche Trace Drive is straight once you enter and perhaps a hundred yards long. Through the live oak trees you can clearly see the sunset sky in all its unadulterated beauty.
This was one of those “God-light” varieties of skies — I say “skies,” plural, because no sky here is ever the same; Manhattan skies are pretty uniform — and on that straight stretch of Comanche Trace Drive, I would have been negligent had I not pulled over to the right to take a photo. Hazard lights on, not caring whether someone thought something was wrong with my car, a Hyundai to any other resident’s Mercedes or Corvette.
This photo, the crispness reduced by my iPhone camera and also by uploading it here, is one of my favorites of the Texas, and Kerrville, sky.
While the Comanche Trace Drive photo show the quantity of Texas skies — they seem to go on forever — this one, taken over the Guadalupe River just down Bandera Highway — shows the quality.
And it’s not so much the quality of the sky itself, it’s the quality that the river acknowledges and shows the riverbank admirer.
May 27 of this year demonsrated just how threatening a sky can be.
In and of itself, that’s like “what’s the big deal?”
But that flippant question is second nature to a city kid. Especially a New York City kid who can simply step away from a storm into a pre-war apartment building that can withstand a small nuclear blast, let alone a bad thunderstorm.
Here in Kerrville, skies like this one mean potential hail. Which means a claim with Texas Farm Bureau because the bank still owns part of the car. The part that’s not damaged and would be sold alongside its dimpled neighbors were we to trade up. Which means a $500 deductible and a rental car while ours is in the shop.
See? All sorts of logistical crap goes along with even the clouds here.
A sky like this in New York City, were you even to notice it, means eating our sushi inside the restaurant instead of in the sidewalk cafe.
So I set out to “see” what I might miss but what neutral, unbiased “eyes” might capture.
I used two tools within an app called Adobe Capture. Aside from being downright fun, it also has commercial potential and is instructive to boot.
The first tool I use to “see” in a sky what my eyes might miss is the app’s feature called “Colors” (on the left below), and the second is called “Looks” (on the right).
The first mechanism that “sees” the sky, of course, is my camera, which never picks up the fullness of what my eyes do, failing as they might be.
I found that Colors gave me only the basic palette. Then I used Looks to further refine what Adobe saw and what my camera saw. Still, it was limited: the peach color you see — once again, bastardized by uploading the photo here — was actually more yellow-orange in the photo and still more vibrant when I saw it with my own two aging eyes.
Which brought me to a conclusion: we humans can see and appreciate more clearly what God has wrought than can technology. Technology is designed by humans to identify, track and archive data.
We, on the other hand, are designed by God to marvel at beauty.