When the photography bug bites, you go wandering. How far you go depends on the length of your leash.
The truth is, if you have the right vision and the right lens, you can find a wealth of images without leaving your house. But rare is the man who has the vision to limit his scope. To find the profound in the prosaic.
Common wisdom tells us that to capture grand images, one must have a grand subject. Ansel Adams and Yellowstone. Any National Geographic magazine you’ve ever seen. How can you capture the captivating story in a pedestrian setting?
Special wisdom tells us that grandness can be found in small things, but who among us can attain this level of awareness without effort? The memory of Eden fades as we claw our living out of the unforgiving soil. How long did it take for the children of Israel to forget the oppression of their Egyptian taskmasters and yearn for the fleshpots of their captivity? Humans are incredibly dense. It is the way of our people.
I had learned the lesson of finding the profound in the prosaic back in Fred, but I am of the denser sort of my race. It had only been a decade or so since I had wielded a camera with a solid purpose, but it seems that I had to learn my lessons over and over until they were ground into my consciousness.
It came down to the length of my leash. First and most important, I had lassoed a star—The Woman. Only a fool would stray from such a luminary, and though I was, and remain, a fool, I was not such a fool as to forsake my pole star. And there was the matter of the kids. I was well and truly anchored and with no regrets. I might be a fool, but I was no fool.
So I turned my attention to the radius of my delimited world. The longing of a domesticated canine contemplating the length of his leash. The tension between three squares a day and the great unknown that beckoned from the other side of the screen door.
[Inside looking out dog]
The sacred geometrical rite of loading the dishwasher.
The mystical mist of a sprinkler in summer.
The convergence of a freshly plowed field.
The weathered shake shingles over a window.
The primary palette of a robotic fire hydrant.
The chance sighting of Marty Feldman’s spiritual grandson at the t-ball game.
The ascendant motion of a vent pipe in an alley.
The Fibonacci curve of a spiral staircase.
The evanescent fluff of a weed in summer.
Of course. to capture such images I had to dip into the realm of the technical, the domain of my father. But I must confess that I learned only as much as required to tell the static story of a moment frozen in time. Depth of field through the proper selection of an f-stop, frozen motion by virtue of a fast shutter, blurred motion via the slow shutter, the delicate balance of aperture versus time. I was never a technician. I would never be an Ansel Adams or an Ernst Haas.
But sometimes life conspired to widen my palette.