Heat is Making Me Cranky

I went to Sharon Woods HopkinsKillerfind book launch Friday night. I’ll post a review in a couple of days after I’ve had a chance to read it. Here’s a review of her earlier book, Killerwatt.

While I was wandering around in the gallery where the book signing was held, a fellow walked up to me and said something to the effect of “do you know what you’re doing with that thing?” referring to my camera.

I gave my stock answer, “Sometimes I get lucky, stumble and happen to hit the shutter button when the camera is pointed at just the right direction.”

“If you hold the button down, you’ll have a better chance,” he advised.

(As always, you can make the photo larger by clicking on it. Just don’t hold down the button: it won’t make it any better.)

It’s more than holding down the button

That’s one of the biggest misconceptions a lot of people have. “People who do that,” I said, growing a bit testy, “manage to miss THE picture. They get a frame before the peak of action and a frame AFTER the peak of action because they’re letting the camera do the thinking for them.”

“Not if you’re shooting 17 frames a second,” the guy persisted. Our conversation wrapped up shortly after that. Sometimes you have to recognize early that some folks go to a different church than you do.

I wandered across the street to the Art Council gallery to see if Sis-in-Law Marty Riley was there. She said she had a waterfall painting hanging she particularly liked. I missed her, but enjoyed the waterfall.

High-falutin’ faldorol

Nightmarish feelings of Ohio University’s Fine Arts program washed over me in the gallery. I paused to read one artist’s mission statement and thought, “You gotta be kidding me.” It turned out that I actually liked his work, despite the high-falutin’ faldorol he had written explaining the project.

My feeling is that a photo or piece of art should stand on its own. Having to explain the “meaning” of a photograph is like having to explain the punchline of a joke. Either it works or it doesn’t. Words can tell you the story behind the photo, but the image has to stand on its own merits.

OK, enough rant about that.

Sudden rush of art to the heart

Maybe it was the sudden rush of art to the heart or I might have been light-headed from the heat, but I started walking down Main Street in an artsy-fartsy frame of mind. The first thing I spotted was this brick wall that had been painted white, red and black.

In class, somebody would go off on a tangent about how the vertical lines in this photograph represent the division in our society, and even THAT segregation is fragmented more by the hierarchical lines separating the vertical polarization. “Nah,” I’d respond “It is a white brick wall that somebody painted red and black stripes on.”

I’m a Joe Friday kind of photographer: “Just the facts, Mam.”

Like playing scales on a piano

Then I started seeing the late afternoon reflections in the windows on the west side of the street. I’m not going to pretend these are art. They were just finger exercises like somebody playing scales on a piano.

(I wish it had been dark enough that the street light had come on. That would have made the photo better.)

OK, THIS offends me

How can you take a classic, landmark building and tart it up with a cheesy sign?

Why are you shooting THIS?

I was on my knees trying to see if there was a picture worth taking of the sprinkler pipes (there wasn’t), when I sensed someone standing near me. A woman’s voice asked, not unkindly, “Of all the pretty things there are in town, why are you shooting THIS?”

Standing up as gracefully as I could (not very), I gave her my standard National Geographic speech: “National Geographic photographers stand on trash cans to shoot roses; I trample roses to shoot trash cans.”

We chatted a bit about downtown Cape (she thinks there are too many bars), then I said, “I’m Ken, by the way.”

I’m Bambi (the Yarn Bomber)

“I’m Bambi,” she responded, shaking my proffered hand.

We talked a bit more, then I just had to ask, “Is you name REALLY Bambi?”

“If I said it was ‘Dr. Bambi,’ would that make it better?” she asked. She was Dr. Bambi Robinson, a SEMO prof.

Then, she dropped the bomb: SHE was Cape’s Yarn Bomber. SHE’S the one who did the work that appeared on benches and supports on Main Street. “There were more, but they were stolen.”

Before we parted, she told me how to find the infamous Cardiac Hill and the Gum Tree (it was in a different place than I had remembered it). I’ll have pictures of those later on.

Temperatures better start dropping soon. It’s getting kitten-kicking hot out here. [That’s just an expression, not something I would ever think of doing.]

11 Replies to “Heat is Making Me Cranky”

  1. When I travel without Don in the US or abroad, I often take infrastructure, electrical type snapshots that Don finds interesting. In the old days, no one paid any attention to me, but with all the security concerns now, I have had people materializing out of nowhere to tell me I can’t photograph something. Interesting! The only other comment people make when I am taking photos is that they like the lime green color of the camera. Of course, that is why I bought it! LOL!

    1. We’re getting to be afraid of our own shadows in this country. I’ve read of lots of rail buffs getting hassled for photographing trains. Someone in our area got run off – “for security reasons” – when they tried to shoot pictures from an overpass that overlooks the Port of Palm Beach.

      Give me a bleeping break. Do they think somebody is going to take a picture that isn’t already in better quality on Google Earth?

  2. What a cool breeze on a hot summer day this blog is. It makes me wish I was there tagging along with you, Ken. I do so appreciate photographers!

    1. You are more than welcome to tag along to hold an umbrella over my head, to blot the sweat from my forehead and to peel the occasional grape as needed (please keep them chilled).

      I can probably find one of those old-fashioned funeral home fans we used in church before it was airconditioned. You could fan me when I’m feeling taxed.

      Yeah, I like this idea. When can I expect you to show up?

  3. Ken, I was struck by the fourth window in the second picture; no apparent reflection. Do you know why? Also, the Elvis in the third window, third picture has a neat, ghost-like appearance. The two buildings in pictures five and six were apparently built by either the same builder or for the same individual judging by the architectural details.

    Great pix!

    1. I wondered the same thing. I didn’t do anything to the image that would have caused the fourth window to go blank. I had a polarizing filter on the lens, but this was one of those rare cases where I WANTED a reflection.

      I’ll have to give it a little more thought. Next time I’m in that block, I’ll have to see if it looks any different in the daylight.


  4. I’ve also gotten strange looks photographing floor grates (German cathedral), bronze geodetic markers (El Moro Castle wall with 80 foot drop to the sea) and many “pattern” pictures (stacks of wood, beach stones, etc.). In 1994, our son was told not to photograph a Star Wars exhibit at the Smithsonian because he was downloading images to his laptop (very small memory card!) and the George Lucas employees were concerned about sharing the images on the internet!

  5. Sorry I missed you at the gallery, but I’m glad you liked the painting…..by the way, I love the St. Vincent photo. Wish I had seen it, too.

    1. I didn’t stick around long, just popped in and out when I saw you weren’t there.

      St. Vincent’s was one of those times when you look up and say to yourself, “That’s interesting. I wonder if there’s a picture there?” In this case, based on the responses, I guess there was.

  6. Ken,
    Your comments about the triple digit temps were so funny. It rained for awhile in west county STL yesterday early evening, and I happened to be going outside to water my patio plants (first I water my deck off the kitchen plants); next I turn on the water to the hose on the patio to water the plants, and to clean off all the soil droppings from the deck. Last, I position my sprinkler to water my condo front yard, two small trees and many plants as well as my elderly neighbor’s yard and plants. Then it rained. Who cared?! I did a short, “Thank you God rain dance,” which ended when I saw a neighbor man laughing at me. He already knows I am ditzy.
    I can just imagine someone telling you, of all people, how to take the best pictures. It was cool of you not to get too hot at the man! Yes; indeed, . ..”sometimes people go o a different church than you do,” and or sing a different song out of the same hymnal, but life is richer with diversity!
    Sometimes, it seems as if you and Lila live in Cape in lieu of Florida!
    Best to you both.

    1. You could have done some dancing down in Cape tonight. Radar shows wet stuff all around us, but it keeps splitting or drying up before it gets here.

      I don’t mind talking photography with folks. I disappoint them sometimes because I’m not a gearhead who keeps up with all the new models. My favorite film camera was a 1969 Nikon F that I bought used.

      My chief photographer at The Post was one of the best underwater and nature photographers I’ve ever met. He leads photo excursions to exotic places now that he’s retired. He was fond of saying that the talented amateurs he leads frequently have newer and better equipment than he does and will sometimes come back with a better photo.

      “The difference is that a pro has to come back with a picture EVERY time. The client expects photos, not excuses.”

      I know what you mean about seeming like we live in Cape and not Florida. When I read Facebook entries from folks talking about rain and storms, I have a hard time figuring out if I should duck and cover or not.

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