Saturday, January 30, 2010

Over the edge.

There just may be a point where the photography thing can go too far. Especially in a grocery store produce department. More especially, when asking to photograph another woman's fruit. I mean, she did have nice tangerines.

Perhaps I should back up and fill in a couple of blanks.

The kids are coming by with Ryan later today. After that, we're off to Katie's sister's place. Today is Katie's parents' 53rd anniversary. That's a whole lot of apostrophes in two sentences, isn't it? A supper gathering is planned. We're doing a late lunch for the kids and taking food to the supper party. This all dictated a trip to the grocery store. We chose to go somewhat late last night. So far so good. Per usual, I stuck the G11 in a pocket.

Once at the store, we went looking for cookies for the lunch. Getting to the bakery entails a trip through the edge of the produce department. Did you know there are a lot of colors, shapes, and patterns in this land of fruits and veggies? It's a kind of paradise for an aspiring photographer.

Some so called expert wrote in a book that one has to not be afraid to look strange in front of other people to get truly great photos. Ok. I can buy that. I'm pretty secure in my own skin, anyway. The banana display caught my eye. I pulled out the G11. I'm okay with being the only person taking pictures of produce. Did you know it's harder than it looks to get a good photo of bananas in a store?

I hate using the built in flash. The other flash unit was at home. Anyway, if possible, I try to get pictures with no flash. I tried opening the aperature as much as possible. With the focal length I wanted the widest it would open was f/4.0. So I tried cranking up the ISO. I changed the white balance. All to no avail. I couldn't get more than a slightly dark photo. Photoshop Elements wouldn't do much for it, either. I added the camera raw plug-in but it only works on the Nikon. The G11 is listed on the camera application but so far it won't upload the raw photos. Eventually I could probably fix the photo, but it's not worth the effort. Anyway, it's not about the banana photo. It's about the story. Here's the photo just for a grin. Amongst such innocence doth trouble begin.

As I'm reviewing the result of my latest effort in the LCD screen, a middle aged woman is approaching. She's giving me this look that says she thinks I'm strange. I mean strange to the ultimate degree. It's ok. Like I say, I'm secure about it. I'm willing to look strange for the sake of the art. As she gets closer it's apparent that she wants to pick out some bananas, so I step aside. It does little to put her mind at ease. The woman reminds me of holding a treat out towards somebody else's dog. The dog wants the treat but doesn't quite have the courage for a frontal approach. It approaches at an angle, ready to bolt at the first sign of aggression.

This woman obviously wanted to shop for bananas. She came around, careful to keep the display between us. I stepped farther back. Slowly she inched forward, keeping a wary eye on me the whole time. Finally, she got up the nerve to say something to me.

"That's a new one", she says. "I've never seen anyone taking pictures of fruit before."

It sounds like a reasonable statement. However, you didn't see her face. There was this dubious and slightly frightened look. Imagine her saying that she'd heard there were people who wore their underwear on their head. Until now, though, she'd never seen anybody actually doing it. Now that she'd seen it, in the produce department, no less, there was a mix of pity, revulsion, and fear in her expression. Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

I should have just wandered off to find Katie. Instead, I open my mouth and start expounding on the beauty of the colors, the repeating patterns, the way the stickers make these little contrasting spots all over at random intervals, and so on. She's shrinking back more and more. The woman glances to each side as if searching for possible weapons. You'd think, from looking at her, that I had actually taken underwear off my head and shaken them at her. The poor woman quickly walked away, deciding, apparently, that her appetite for bananas had been spoiled. I shrugged and went to find Katie.

Telling Katie the story, I expected us to have a laugh together. The corners of her mouth were lifted, but her eyes looked a lot like the other woman's. I guess that's why us photographers are such an elite and lonely lot. People just don't understand true artists.

The story would have ended there except for the fact that I've never learned to be shy.

Once we finally finished loading our basket ( I thought it would never end ) we went to find a check-out line. Whom do you think we happen to see right off as we start looking for a short line? You guessed it. The woman from the produce department. Now there's a stocky man with her. In her basket I spy a small box of tangerines. They looked nothing like bananas. The smalll orange globes were quite pretty. Lacy netting adorned the top of the sweet looking tangerines, gently holding them nicely in place. I make eye contact with the woman. Despite her previous suspicion of my character, she can't break the gaze between us. I smile as charmingly as I can. Then I did it. I opened my mouth while waving my Canon at her.

"Hi, again! Could I photograph your tangerines?"

It's probably a good thing that she wasn't wearing her underwear on her head because I think she might have soiled them.

You know, there's some things you just shouldn't ask out loud in a grocery store. Even if you're me.

Miles and smiles,



682202 said...

As I read the first paragraph I was sure the story was going to end badly, say a tazer and a trip to the pokey. So wheres the photos of the tangerines??? GAW

bluekat said...

You just can't be left alone in a mall or a store can you! :)
I knew it was trouble as soon as you said you opened your mouth. Sorry, but I'm beginning to see that this is a pattern with you. lol

I was wondering where the tangerine photo was too?

Very funny write up...thanks for the chuckle! :)

Scott said...

You should have freaked her out even more by telling her you rode a motorcycle, too.

Wait, you do still ride, don't you? :)

Jack Riepe said...

Dear IronDad (Dan):

I am glad you are having such a good time with the photography thing.

Your idea of a highly provocative situation and mine are two entirely different things. Dan... Fruit? I dare you... I double dog dare you to wander into a Victoria's Secret, or any other lingerie shop with a similar reputation, and start taking pictures of the pretty colors. Wait and see what happens when a hot tamale trys to grab one of the lacy things in your view finder. Then tell me what happens next.

I am incredibly shy myself, and woudn't think of trying such a stunt, unless someone made me a $5 bet.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Anonymous said...

"I guess that's why us photographers are such an elite and lonely lot. People just don't understand true artists."

True artists are often weird; your readers knew that about you long ago.

Just keep it up, maybe try making a fruit salad next time!

Chuck Pefley said...

Hee hee! What a hoot! Think about how intimidating you'll be after you step up to a Canon G-12!

A great story and well told -:) The bananas look pretty appetizing, too.

By the way, I'm happy to match Jack's $5. Go for it. I hear things are tough in Oregon, so this is a way to make ends meet ... and perhaps meet other things as well. LOL!!!

Conchscooter said...

Come to Key West, a camera makes you invisible to quote the writer and photographer Tom Corcoran who fascinated my wife's high school classroom with a talk about living writing and photographing Key West.
The cool thing about freaking people out is if she had caught the ball you lobbed she might have ended up in your blog with a smile. As it is the prune got to have a little exctiement in her pointlessly boring little life.
Ignore riepe he'll land you in jail.

Charlie6 said... should have told her you were researching a new color yellow variation for hi-viz riding gear....

it would have made the same amount of sense to the poor woman I suspect.

irondad said...

682202 Gordon,

If I had insisted on taking the photo of the tangerines, tazers would probably have been a reality.


What? Me causing trouble? I'm offended. Ok, maybe not. One of my big fears is having walked through this world with nobody having noticed.


I knew something was missing. I've been so involved in making photos that I forgot about Elvira. Now I'm in trouble!

Seriously, I'm still riding. You're right black leather biker gear would have been a nice touch here.


I'm going to jail, I can just feel it. I want to keep this blog family friendly. Maybe I'll send you the photos and you can post them?


You calling me weird? Thanks, that's such a wonderful compliment to a guy like me!


I don't know about the G12. I'm trying to avoid artificial enhancement. Does that make a total of 10 bucks, now? Getting more tempting all the time!


Your comment is beautiful. I don't want to sully it by trying to comment on it.

However, I do wish I was smart enough to ignore Riepe.


I love that Hi-Viz idea!

Take care,