The universal saying goes that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Ask anyone who was brought up in Malta and migrated to some other place what they miss most and you are likely to be served a roll call which includes the sea; pastizzi; family; quality of life; and light.
In Malta, it’s not that we have seasons as much that we have different seasons of light. Limestone and water are the perfect palette for what is served by the heavens. So we talk about the way a building glows in the first hours of the morning; how the parched sky of July and August finally get washed away by the first rains in September to reveal the electric deep blue; how the storms in November and February are still broken by days of intense light and colour; how the Grand Harbour is magical as you sail back to the island in the early evening.
Our site features the work of many talented photographers. Their finest work is often when they capture the juxtaposition of intense light and darkness, moments of starkness, shadows and beauty. Malta is situated approximately the same distance from the equator as Hollywood – another reason why it continues to attract the attention of some of the world’s finest film-makers. The useful hours of daylight are plentiful and the light levels so consistent that if you were to take a light meter reading an hour after sunrise up to an hour before sunset, the light levels hardly change at all. This gives a photographer or a film-maker up to 12 hours a day of working time in comparison to counterparts in more northerly countries where, depending on the season, it can be dark just after 3pm in the afternoon. Although the winter months may give Malta a more even light, there is also much to be captured in summer sunrises and sunsets. And in most places, you are surrounded by extraordinary limestone architecture or stubborn rock. Whether it is Valletta’s grid of deep crevices, where the sun crawls along the walls and streets like a sundial, or the seascapes in the south, Malta’s light is a vital element of what makes these islands special.
More than anything else, light is also about the joys of the senses.
So the final word goes to our friend Jim Sims, who moved to Gozo to be away from the madding crowd. “Sometimes when I walk down to the sea and look at the blue Mediterranean, the sea loses itself and the color blue takes over – becomes the ‘thing’ that was the sea. The blue is so remarkably intense that it ceases to even be a color. It’s as if the force of the blue was more real than the sea or the word color. I swear that the blue here is so much more, in every conceivable sense of that word, than the blue in New England for instance. I try to walk down there every day if possible, although it can be far too hot to attempt it some days. I’ll let you know when it answers back to me.”
Photo: Andrew Galea Debono