Try writing, in about 250 words, about light in the landscape that you
are in, or one that you remember. Focus on a color or quality of light.
How it moves or sits in the landscape. You may also want to compare the
quality of light at, say different times of day, or different times of
Writing Sample:The most spectacular light in Antarctica
occurs during Winfly, the period just after the Antarctic winter when
the sun begins again to rise and set. The first sunrise after the four
month dark period of winter is on August 19th. The sun will rise and
set, then, until October 23rd, which marks the day of the last sunset
of the season. From then on, the sun never sets. There is eternal day,
made brighter, even, by the white snow and ice and are everywhere in
Antarctica. The sun begins to set again on February 19th. Total
darkness sets in on April 25. During the Antarctic winter, when the
skies are black, the aurora Australis lights up, scattering the sky
with green and pink and yellow lights.
the low sun angle of Winfly that makes the colors then so vivid. Each
morning and evening the mountains, the sea ice, towering Mt. Erebus,
the edges of the glaciers, the ancient wooden explorer's huts and the
newer prefabricated metal buildings of the usually dingy town of
McMurdo, glow peach and pink, nearly neon, buttery yellow.
When I first came to McMurdo, I could look out across the sea ice at
the Transantarctic Mountains and see the mountains revealed as mostly
black or white, depending on whether it was day or night, against skies
that were lit up like fire. Like fire. Or washed in cool blues and
pinks. When I was out on the sea ice, exploring near the Erebus glacier
tongue and evening came on, the entire edge of the glacier lit up in a
smooth, creamy gold and crept up the sides of the huge volcano. The
colors seemed improbable. Impossible.
One night, on the way back to McMurdo from Cape Evans, the light on the
horizon was incredible. Incredible I tell you. Like the brightest peach
and pink and yellow I have ever seen in a sky. And there were strange
dark clouds in the sky too, thin wispy clouds that looked like letters.
It was if someone had written lightly in the sky, some kind of careless
script. I tried to make out a word. What could it be?
But as Winfly wore on, I noticed that I'd look out my window each day
and the mountains that I'd seen earlier as solid, as one-dimensional,
as either white or black, were beginning to take on new shapes because
of the increasingly rising sun angle. I could see deeper and deeper
into the range. I could make out valleys and peaks that I'd not seen
before. The effect was much like turning on an overhead light in a room
where you've been reading quietly with only your bedside lamp turned
on. Brightness began to overwhelm everything, illuminate everything,
but shed a harsh light.
Now, it is light 24 hours a days. At bedtime I need to wear sunglasses
in my room if the curtain is open. I put a blanket over my window at
night for some darkness. I rise at 7:00 a.m. and it is just as bright
as when I went to bed. It is a shock, to be out with friends drinking
tea at night, open the door of the coffee house to step outside and
make our way back to our dorm rooms, and blink into the brightness.
Just to peer out my window onto the sea ice to check the weather
conditions, I need sunglasses. All the time I am wearing them, trying
to protect my eyes from the light.
Analysis:In this short piece I contrasted the light
conditions during two very different times of the year in Antarctica. I
tried to come up with new ways to describe the light, and I tried to
stay away from superlatives, i.e. "It was beautiful." Although I do use
the word "incredible" twice, to drive home the point that I was
astonished by this light.