I’ve got a long lens and I’m not afraid to use it.

January 22, 2010

No dress code required.

I set myself a challenge for the new year and I named that challenge the Daily Photo Project.

The plan was simplicity personified: post a new photo on this blog site each and every day of 2010. What I didn’t know at the time is this: simplicity is a bitch.

For instance, do I take a new photo every day, or post a new photo every day?

It quickly became obvious that weather conditions would play a factor in this project. As would the availability of free time on a workday.

And so the parameters shifted. If I managed to capture several excellent images on one day, I gave myself permission to archive some of them for later. Just not too much later.

One problem solved. Leaving this question: What do I take photos of?

I may not know a lot about depth of field or F-stops, but I know what I like. And so I just kept my eyes open for anything that struck me as interesting or oddball or colourful.

People shots tend to be eye-catching and, because it’s summer here in New Zealand, I didn’t have to look far to find the good and kind folk of Napier out and about in the sun. Armed with a telephoto lens — because no one appreciates a total stranger sticking a camera in their face — I walked to the nearest beach.

I tried to be judicious in my subject matter, because even in a public place, people deserve some privacy. I hesitated for a long time over posting the photo of the naked toddler frolicking on the beach (Jan. 20). In the steely, pursed-lipped, unwavering eye of the law, would this somehow make me a child pornographer?

I finally did decide to download the photo to my blog because a) there are no visible genitalia (I may have taken the photo but even I have no idea of the kid’s gender; b) there is an obvious sense of freedom in the action, the sort we all enjoyed before the responsibilities of adulthood drained such golden-hued fun right out of us; and, c) it’s just a bum, for crying out loud.

Not that bums can’t get you in trouble.

An example: Viking Woman and I have just hiked to the highest point on the island of Aitutaki. I snap off several photos, including one of my beloved framed by the perfect cobalt blue of the ocean. Later, the photo is one of several used in a travel story, published in the Langley Times, about our visit to the Cook Islands. Forty thousand copies; 40,000 households looking at . . .

“My ass!”

“What’s that, honey?”

“There’s a picture of my ass in the paper.”

I clear my throat. “Actually, that’s a very nice photo of you looking out over the jungle and the water,” I say. “Readers will look at the scenery.”

“Readers will look at my ass.”

“I—”

She cuts me off: “Here’s a news flash for you, Mr. I Paint With Light. You never — and I mean never-ever — take a picture of a woman from behind. Are we clear on that, or would you like me to have that tattooed on your forehead?”

“Yes, dear,” I say, nodding maybe a little too vigorously. “Love you!”

And that’s how I learned that cameras are dangerous tools and you really do need to be careful where you point them.

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