Monday, July 27, 2020

The Yield

I read an article in the Times today--no, not an article. . . I don't know what to call it.  It was just a selection of pictures of celebrities taken from video chats.  Like most celebrities, they had placed themselves in front of bookshelves to seem serious.  The "author" of the "article" then picked out a few books on the shelves to point out.  It is dumb, but here's the link (link).  Maybe this "article" will help some realize that the difference between people and between cultures might be directly related to the books they read (or don't).

I wasn't intrigued by any of their books.

I went walking yesterday in a part of town I haven't gone to much since my accident.  I parked at one end of what serves as the boulevard for this neighborhood, a stretch of shops on either side of the road, and walked to the other end a little over a mile away.  Of course, I had my camera.  You know what they say--"You do best what you do most."  Well, that is what I say, anyway.  It is hard to pinpoint what I do most in the Time of Covid.  But I DO take a lot of pictures.  I do it every day.  Yesterday, walking, I took around fifty.  Out of fifty photographs, if there are one or two keepers, you've done an awesome job.  Maybe you get a keeper out of a hundred or more.  Some you'll like for a minute or two, but later, looking again, you realize that they are not so good after all.  Sometimes it works the other way, something you overlooked you realize was much better than you thought.  But making something you would put "in the book" is really very difficult.

I tell my mother that I go walking with my camera every day, but I have no idea what she thinks of that.  She doesn't see any of the photos I take.  Maybe once in awhile I'll send her something, but she never comments unless there is someone or something in the picture that she knows. She shows me pictures, endless photos from Facebook of babies or relatives doing something somewhere that have absolutely nothing of interest in them except that they are people she knows.  She'll bring the phone over to me saying, "Here's Rodney in Colorado.  He went out to see his kids."  And sure enough, there's Rodney in someplace supposedly Colorado.

Maybe I will send her the picture I am posting here this morning.  She won't say anything about it.  Certainly she wonders why I would take a picture of a wall as would the rest of my relatives.  Sometimes this realization strikes me when I get home and download the pictures I've just taken, and a cold chill creeps up my spine and I begin to wonder the same thing as I look at all those photos that will go into the trash bin.  "What the fuck are you doing?" I will wonder.

People will stand in front of a photograph by Ansel Adams, and they get it.  My mother and relatives would get it.  The same thing with a Clyde Butcher photo.

"Look at those clouds!"

They understand photographs of nature.  But a wall?  A car bumper?  A reflection in a busy window?

In isolating these things though, I see them.  I don't see them otherwise.  In the larger context of our sweeping vision, as we pan across the vast suburban milieu, the crowding of shapes and colors and the small repetition of patterns escapes us, or at least has to be ignored so that we can drive or cross the street without being overwhelmed.  We don't have time to isolate and focus on the pieces and the parts.

That is what I tell myself, anyway, as sit down to take a look at the images from the past day or two.  In the main, I don't do a very good job at isolating and focusing, either.

But sometimes, now, I do.  The yield is getting a little better, I think.

You do best what you do most.

That doesn't mean you are the best, however.  So I keep trying.

My problem is time.  Not that I don't have enough of it, but that the time for good photography is not usually when I am thinking of going out.  Light, you see.  It is really good early in the morning as the sun comes up if the day is clear.  It is best when I am sitting in my house drinking coffee and marveling at the shadows the sun is casting through the blinds in patterns on the floor and walls.  Oh, that is a dandy light, and that would be the time to go out and photograph, not later when I am ready.  My life is too comfortable.

You would think that I could make it out for the sundowner light much easier, but I like sitting on the deck with a cocktail then, watching the shadows of the trees and the perfect blue of the sky deepen.  It is so lovely and emotional.

When I get to the cool places, the sun is overhead, not over my shoulder.  I wish nature would comply with my timeframe.

And that was why I enjoyed the studio.  We could shoot when it was dark, or we could shoot in the middle of the day.  I could control the light then.  It worked on my schedule.

If I want better pictures of this suburban landscape, I am going to need to forego some of the comforts I so enjoy.

Like now,  The light is perfect, but here I sit.  I'll be ready in another hour but this light will not last.

I should have stopped writing six or so "paragraphs" ago.  This last part, this confession, does nothing to add to my claim to be getting better yields.  It is just a confession aimed at an audience of one.  But. . . oh, well. . . another cup of coffee and a croissant now.  I'll get out early tomorrow.

There is nothing that can't be done tomorrow.

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