New Morning in Chinatown | Mark Lindsay

Optimism is not born naturally to me with each sunrise. I've never been a morning person nor shall I ever be one. It takes a good hour for the creaky bones and foggy head to allow in the rays of hopefulness. I rub the sleep out of my eyes and grumble at the cats as I lift myself out of the tomb of sleep. I slip into my slippers and shuffle my way to the kitchen. The coffee pot draws my attention before all else. I eagerly await the sound of boiling water and the first sip of the warming elixir. I gulp and then sigh. No, a morning person I shall never be.

There is, however, hope for me and my new day. It is my camera. My camera makes most any new morning one of emerging optimism. It is a golden key to the portal of new discovery. Knowing that the morning light is the day's most precious, I force myself out earlier than I'd like, still mumbling as I walk out the door. The cats watch me from the dining room window as I negotiate my way down our three flights of stairs. It matters not where I go, as long as I am in firm grip of my camera.

Once out with fresh wind in my sails there is now no turning back. The new day transforms into one of infinite possibility for image making. The universe swirls around me, the camera gives me sight and the unfathomable ability to capture a sliver of what is happening before and around me. I see this and then that, savoring the solid click of the shutter. A good shutter click is like the affirming and sold thud of a well-made car door. I don't know why the sound is so satisfying but it most certainly is. Sometimes I press the shutter release just to hear the shutter make noise.

Like any worthwhile endeavor, it takes time to warm up to a day's photography. Keenness of vision is not something that can be turned on and off and then on again. Rather, it's like an old, tube amplifier. It needs time for things to glow and get warm. Usually after about a score of images do things clarify in my eyes and mind. Even then, I make more bad images than good.

The glow does not last. Within a few hours my senses start to dull again. The sun gets higher and the light cooler. The air clouds with the exhaust from the morning commute. People have gotten to where they were going. The day settles into itself and I grow weary of listening to so many shutter clicks. I start thinking about eating and then looking at the day's harvest of images. And then I trudge home, satisfied and content. The optimism that the camera brought me is undiminished, though now transformed into something less sharp.

On the way back to the studio I note how the light has changed since I embarked upon my short, little journey. And I am changed as are the people that surround me. I miss the early morning light as noon approaches. The sun stretches to reach its climax as I look up to monitor its progress. But as shadows shorten they will soon grow longer once more. I find comfort as the universe continues in its swirling motion while I find my way back home again.