I have enjoyed discovering a menagerie of characters in these campfire photos from a night my husband and I spent near Great Sand Dunes National Park last summer. It’s a bit like picking figures and objects out of the clouds, but the contrast between light and darkness makes these images very dramatic.
Of all the characters I have described, this one is my absolute favorite, although The Boy Made of Wood (Pinocchio/Puck) is a very close second. There is something melancholic about this woman that I simply can’t resist. Here are two shots of her.
The Soul in the Flame #1
She turns away in her strapless gown, wistful, a shimmering profile. Perhaps the partner she seeks has not arrived, or maybe she plays hard to get. Her hair curls playfully behind her ear- should we ask her to dance?
This is the second set of photos from a campfire near Great Sand Dunes National Park. As the fire gets rolling, the flame take up more intricate and bizarre dances, making for wilder personifications.
#1 A Jealous Duck
An old ghoul, open mouthed and square jawed, applauds a dancing sea horse, completely enthralled. A prim and proper duck looks on from above, either thoroughly unimpressed or feeling left out. Even fire imp parties have their petty jealousies.
A monkey and a fox sit chatting, trying to decide which of them is the most noble. They want to know if anyone has seen that rascal Aesop, because someone stole their rucksack.
When this couple gets together the sparks fly, although I’d have to say she is hotter than he is. She however, believes there’s nothing like an old flame.
#4 Cross Legged Girl
Come on, if you could sit cross legged in a fire, wouldn’t you?
#5 The Orator and His Cat
Dramatic presentation is this guy’s forte. Look at that heroic claw! Unfortunately, he’s being upstaged by his cat, who likes to eat steak thrown at him by the audience.
Just a few bright, tired imps left on the dance floor. I don’t have the heart to poke them into life again.
“You know what I think?” she says. “That people’s memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive. Whether those memories have any actual importance or not, it doesn’t matter as far as the maintenance of life is concerned. They’re all just fuel.”
―Haruki Murakami, After Dark
The moth takes off again, and we both step back, because he’s circling at eye level now and seems to have lost rudder control, smacking into the wall on each round. He circles lower and lower, spinning around the candle in tighter revolutions, like a soap sud over an open drain. A few times he seems to touch the flame, but dances off unhurt.
Then he ignites like a ball of hair, curling into an oily puff of fumes with a hiss. The candle flame flickers and dims for a moment, then burns as bright as before.
Moth Smoke Lingers.
― Mohsin Hamid, Moth Smoke