Monday, March 31, 2008

The Flashlight Perspective

Have you ever noticed how, on CSI, the investigators never turn any lights on? They miraculously find tiny fragments of evidence using only the beam from a small flashlight in a dark attic behind a bookcase. Yeah right...

My mother always told me to turn the lights on. "We pay the power bill," she'd say. Or I'd get the common, "You're going to ruin your eyesight by watching TV/reading/doing homework in the dark." While my eyesight isn't spectacular (it's genetic, and your fault, Mom), I can still see.

When I was taking photography classes in high school, other kids would stumble around in the dark room. The red lights of the dark room weren't enough for their overstimulated eyes, and they knocked things over or tripped and bumped others... I was always the one that got shoved into my enlarger just as I began my exposure. Thanks, blind people.

I remember having to go into the black room to roll film. When you take film out of the camera, it's inside the canister. To go from there to being developed film, the film has to go from the canister to reels to a jar where chemicals can be added to develop the negatives. Going from the canister is the hardest part: it must be done in complete darkness. No light, not even a flicker, not even the glowing hands on a watch. I was good at it, too. I could generally run two reels in under five minutes, sometimes under four. I used my hands to feel things instead of seeing them, and I knew exactly where everything was by touch.

My apartment has both blinds and curtains, and I rarely open them. The dark light doesn't make me depressed or sad or anything other than normal. I don't care when it's rainy for five or six months on end--in fact, I much prefer autumn and winter to spring and summer (cold, on the other hand, isn't my favorite).

But those dang CSI's... they find evidence in black holes. I have my qualifications and could be a forensic scientist without any more school--my overwhelming dislike of all things dead-and-smelly standing in my way. But never in all my training did I approach a situation from the "flashlight perspective."

I have an idea: how about instead of using flashlights on the evidence, we light up the room and put spotlights on George Eads instead. Mmmmm, now that's good TV!

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