Monday, September 5, 2011

Look At This Great Picture

Isn't that a great picture? Huh? Huh? What do you think? I surely deserve some praise for it, don't I? Like a lot of praise? Because I took it.

And you know what, it wasn't really that hard to accomplish. Probably for some people it'd be tricky to get it accomplished, like people who don't have an eye for it, let alone an innate knack for style. But not for me, since I have an eye for practically anything, and my innate knack for style is simply without beginning and without end.

I'm looking at it right now, even while I type, because typing for me isn't any problem; I learned the keyboard when I was in junior high school, giving me the ability to look at a picture and type at the same time. And I really like what I see. I really like it.

It kind of reminds me of Sam Spade, you know, the detective that Humphrey Bogart played? He's like all noir all the time, that is, film noir, with noir meaning dark or black in French. If you've ever seen one of these films, naturally they're done in black and white, like my picture. So what have you got? Lots of shadows, venetian blinds making crazy sick patterns all over everything as the sun streams through. There's so many shadows a mouse might be hiding in plain sight and you wouldn't see it.

Well, look at my picture, venetian blinds, check! A bench or table, a good place for a '40s detective to sit, while presumably a Cuban ceiling fan turns creakily overhead, and somewhere, I'm not going to say it's not there, there is a mouse, in one of the corners. And look at the sun streaming through. If you enlarged this son of a bitch, you'd even see the dust motes floating in the room.

It's atmospheric, if I do say so myself. I love the light dangling overhead, just the kind of light a detective would pull down when he was trying to put the screws on someone to get their confession. The very light where a gun moll, which is the word they used for their women back then, would be touching up her lipstick, since she's very finicky about lipstick. Cherry lipstick, coincidentally the same kind they found smudgy traces of on the dead man's collar!

You know what? I've been seriously taking pictures for the last month, since Aug. 1. It's true, I've taken maybe 3000 (or it could be 2000) pictures, everything in my path. I started out all nervous, like you might imagine, because I hadn't touched a camera since maybe the '70s. So I'm all hesitant, then I discovered something about myself, probably something you've known for a long time from other contexts, that I'm a born artist. With that, I loosened up.

I always wanted to be an artist. But I can't draw, can't seem to paint, not that I've really tried, don't know music, can't read it. In every way that counts, artistically speaking, I've been a big fat zero. And that's a bummer to me like you couldn't know, because I've always thought I had the talent, if only it could be borne out in actual fact.

But when it comes to photography, any idiot (which I'm not one of) can be an artist. All you have to do is find something decent to look at, aim a camera at it, and push the button. And they've made it a lot easier these days, like with an iPhone or iPod, because all the tools are built in, filters, etc. It's like a multiple choice test where none of the answers is actually wrong!

OK, picture me on the set of the above picture. I'm brooding over it for like seconds at a time. I'm thinking, "How am I going to frame this son of a bitch so it comes out something I'm proud of?" Naturally, and this is where my innate style comes into play, I'm thinking I want the window off center. The bench on the right is going to look fantastic with the sun streaming through the venetian blinds directly. So I'm thinking that's where I'll leave it. Of course the left side is going to be more in the shadows, not getting a direct sunlight hit. Which ought to be your first clue that the mouse has to be over there somewhere.

All these thoughts are running through my head, and I'm mentally calculating all the angles, my brain being close to a super computer, very fast, and only crashing ... hardly ever. I called for quiet on the set, while, with great stability in my hands, I held the iPod. Then, with everything being in perfect place, I snapped the picture. I thought I could take one more, but I like to work with one take. If you're a perfectionist from the get-go, you don't need to do it twice. I'm like the sign on the plumber's van I saw the other day, "We do it right the first time."

I got my mouse and we vacated the set. I put down a dollar on the table for the management's trouble (this was at a restaurant), and we were off.

TECHNICAL NOTES: In post production, I darkened the original picture with a cool filter I have on an app called MagicHour. The details in the original photo weren't as obscure as I wanted ultimately. A darker picture would make it a place where Sam Spade would be more comfortable. So a click of one button and it was darker, darkened to perfection.

CONUNDRUM: Of course I solely own the copyright on this picture. All rights reserved. It may not be used for any purpose without my express written consent, which I'm not bloody likely to give. Because I'm the guy who clicked the button, it's mine. Making me wonder, and this is the conundrum, if I had taken the picture with a timer, that is, without me pushing the button, would I still own the copyright? Or would I have to share credit with the camera itself? That's one for the courts to decide!

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