Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Life Is Good

“Can you scrunch together more?” the photographer would say when he can’t back up any further. The people posing rub shoulders, and sometimes feel uncomfortable if they have to put their arms around others they don’t really like, or hardly know, to fit in the camera’s frame.

“Come on, now. Smile!” I almost never feel like smiling when I’m ordered to. Someone has to say something genuinely funny or I can only fake it. If the photographer has to take more than one shot and fumbles with the camera in between, my cheek muscles cramp up. I don’t like posing for pictures and I suspect most people are that way. I do like taking pictures and always have, but I don’t like getting people to pose any more than I like posing myself. I much prefer shooting people when they’re not aware of it, when they’re not self conscious about how they look to others, when they’re being themselves. I do take posed group shots, however, because people ask me to and it’s usually my wife who is doing the asking. She knows I almost always have a camera with me and, though it’s more work for me than fun, I seldom refuse.

With my economic stimulus check I bought a new camera: a Nikon D-60 SLR and it came stock with an 18mm to 55mm zoom lens. Now all that’s required for those tight group shots is a twist of the wrist and everybody is in the picture. I’d never used a camera with a wide angle capability before and I love it. Trees are a favorite subject - old individual trees with distinctive shapes. Many are in tight locations and it’s not always possible to move backward to include the entire tree from ground to crown. Again, the wide angle capability is terrific; just a flick of the wrist and the tree can be framed perfectly.

Another great feature of the D-60 is that the shutter clicks as soon as I press the release button, just like my old analog camera. For three years I used an earlier digital camera with a two-or-three-second shutter delay and it drove me mad. If I were shooting a moving object, I’d have to anticipate where it would be seconds after I pressed the shutter release. If a human subject wore a particular expression, it usually changed two seconds hence when the camera finally recorded it.

My wife and I rented a cottage on the Maine coast last week so I had lots of time to play around. I watched terns dive into the Little River at Reid State Park and come up with sardines in their beaks. I got several nice shots of their aerobatic diving that would have been impossible to obtain with my old camera. Then a huge osprey appeared and hovered high over the waves further out. He hung in the air long enough for me to change lenses and I was able to get several images of him (her?). The auto-focus feature was problematic at times with only blue sky as background. It was difficult to keep the bird in the center of the frame and the lens wanted to go to infinity when my aim was off. The osprey’s eyesight was apparently off a bit too because, as much as I wanted him to, he never dove for his dinner while I was shooting and eventually flew back inland. Oh well. Can’t have everything.

A quote I read recently keeps reverberating in my head: “We don’t see the world as it is; we see the world as we are.” I’m happy to say that I’ve been seeing many interesting and beautiful things lately and I’m taking the time record them. Life is good. The old man who sold me the camera said there are two kinds of photographers: “those who bring their camera to photograph a particular thing, and those who always have it with them because they see something beautiful every day.”


Unknown said...

I share your love of photography and the philosophy that life is good. Thanks. Jann

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your personal experiences about cameras.