November rain and a familiar mystery in the air

I don’t know what it is. Something that just descends on me as I step out into the drizzle this November morning. Something familiar. Intrigue pulls me into the street and onto the tram, headed up to Prague’s Letna Park. From there, the view over the Vltava river with its succession of bridges across to the city’s Old Town is pretty spectacular. I love this kind of day. It’s weather like this that can fill an ordinary street scene with mystery and mood. The winter here is mostly a drawn-out progression of grey, short daylight hours mushed together into one seemingly oppressive season. But for me, this is Prague, moody, dim, depressing, yet filled with uplifting moments of photographic discovery and illumination that lurk around every corner.

Lone pine at Letna Parkbb

Back in the 90s, when Diana and I lived downtown, we spent the winters here, me making pictures and her translating texts. Our summers were spent back in the States where we would sell my photographs at art fairs in the Midwest. This of course meant that we rarely saw summer in Prague. It was only years later, after we had moved to Kutna Hora (60 km southeast) and stopped traveling back each summer to the States, that we actually experienced a full-blown Prague summer. But as fantastic as it is – warm, sunshiny tourist-packed, happy streets and parks – I just could never seem to get in the groove to photograph in the streets, like I do when it’s drizzling, foggy (or is that the inversion) and chilly.

november_rain_letna_prague-2

Maybe it’s this atmospheric change that directs my perception back to things seen over the years, or books I’ve read, that bring out the eerie and reality-bending air that Prague seems to present to me. Since my first days here in 1992, walking the streets hunting for moments to photograph, it’s always been akin to floating through some Noir film, screenplay by Kafka, directed by David Lynch. A black and white siren calling me into her midst, laughing at me, apologizing then drawing me back in. Back and forth until I’ve captured something of her soul. Just a fleeting moment. But it’s there, I caught it.

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