Unfair light

_MG_7203Did you know sunlight was spectacularly unfair?

The evening light hits some branches practically making them glow while others are left in relative darkness. I think the contrast brings the photo to life. It’s also fundamentally unfair because the light left some branches to be the boring contrasting elements of the photo and not the star attractions. Call me unsympathetic but I’m fine with that.

Those hard-luck branches lead to an interesting question. Where did we ever get the idea that life was supposed to be fair?

At our house, whenever someone started complaining that life wasn’t fair the answer was numbingly predictable. Life isn’t fair! Even though I said it hundreds of times, unbelievably, I still occasionally get caught in the same trap.

Somehow kids at the youngest ages seem to think that life is supposed to be fair. Adults with much life experience hit a rocky patch and start talking about fairness. Why?

It’s especially surprising when you start objectively looking at the evidence. Our world is littered with unfairness. Every day babies all over the world are born, healthy or not, into families that are loving or abusive, rich or impoverished among many other differences.

Life principles like hard work often yield great results but you don’t have to look very far to see they are not fair results. Unfairness examples abound! Our sense of fairness must come from somewhere else.

Kids may be taught the benefits of playing by the rules to keep it fair. But they can see the results are not the same – some just run faster, draw better and finish the test faster. It seems doubtful that the idea could be so deeply ingrained from teaching. While I am still open for probable causes, it seems like something we are born with.

Trouble comes, not from trying to discern the cause, but what we do with the concept. Focusing on unfairness only feeds unhappiness.

So at the end of the day, it’s definitely not fair some of the branches not being treated fairly. I still like them in my photo … they’ll get over it.

Latest Comments

  1. mariayarri says:

    As always , a beautiful photo from you with an interesting text . // Maria


  2. rachel bar says:

    So this time we get a great photo with the play of light and darkness and a philosophy treatise as well! This is one of my favorite pictures by you, and I hope I don’t hurt the feeling of the other pictures (but who said life is fair?).


    • lylekrahn says:

      They’ll get over it!! It seems strangely appropriate that a post about unfairness gets far fewer likes and views but gets particularly strong and thotful comments.


  3. Delft says:

    “I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be much worse if life *were* fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?’ So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.”
    – “Marcus Cole” (J. Michael Straczynski)


  4. Ray and Trudy says:

    Appreciated your thots. Great photo as well. My thot; instead of thinking what’s fair lets think of the branches being faithful and today one gets the glory and in a another day or season it may be another!

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. queenlorene says:

    It makes me think that half the tree is waking up and half has fallen asleep. A constant sentry, if you will.


  6. artsifrtsy says:

    Looks a bit like that golden hour in the afternoon – it’s not fair, but it’s life. I liked this post a lot – made me think.


  7. melmannphoto says:

    Light and dark – takes both to make a photograph. We’re just biased to think light is of greater value than dark.


  8. caleephotography says:

    Lovely light in this picture! And the shadows add to it as well, as in life we all have our roles to play 🙂 One of my favourite things with spring is to see how the trees (especially birches) get a red-purple tone.


    • lylekrahn says:

      So we need to play them well! We don’t have a lot of birch trees around here but I’ve always liked them. I’ll have to find one to see that colour change you mentioned.


  9. Deb W. Trotter says:

    When we’re young, if our lives are not a mess, it’s easy to believe that someone is always in control, and if someone is always in control, then why shouldn’t things be fair? It’s a hard life lesson to learn that that isn’t at all the way it is.


  10. Mind Margins/Run Nature says:

    Wonder, provocative post, Lyle. As a former 5th grade teacher, the concept of “fairness” came up quite often in the classroom. Life isn’t fair, and learning that sooner rather than later is sometimes a tough lesson to learn.


  11. Adeline Berg says:

    That is an awesome picture and interesting interpretation! Contrast does produce beauty! I had a contract teaching where I had to drive to Gimli , leaving home at 7 a.m. It was winter and the cheery sun on the trees produced amazing colours on the bare trees. I looked forward to those drives.


  12. meetmeattheboutique says:

    That is a beautiful photo!


  13. Mike Powell says:

    Beautiful image, Lyle, and a thought-provoking posting about the nature and source of our sense of fairness. Is fairness equality or is it something different? Is fairness about getting what we deserve (or think we deserve)? Is fairness more about justice or is it more about mercy? How do we balance fairness and self-interest? We could have a long philosophical discussion about this topic, but I think that you correctly suggested that focusing on unfairness only feeds unhappiness. In life, as in our photography, we have to seek out opportunities and prepare ourselves to take advantage of those opportunities if/when they arise, knowing that some days we will return home tired, cold, wet, and empty-handed. That may be unfair, but that is life.


    • lylekrahn says:

      So true. And sometimes in life and photography we stumble upon something amazing right away and it all turns out so good with little effort. That is also unfair but gladly received. We never know when it will be easy or tough, or how the story will end.


  14. Seenorway says:

    That’s the way it is, I’m afraid, but it also gives depth to your pictures!


  15. Gunta says:

    I love what the light is doing in this image. Without the highlights, it might be a rather ordinary shot.


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