Friday, December 22, 2006

Taking pictures with my dad

Ghostly reflection
Havre des Iles, Laval, Quebec, December 2006 [Click to embiggen]

On a cold, clear night, I stand alone on my parents' high-rise balcony and stare out over a quiet landscape. I hover over my tripod-mounted camera, scanning wordlessly and hoping something will soon catch my eye. My father steps outside and pulls on his jacket. He immediately begins pointing out scenes of interest. I nod my head dismissively as he rattles them off: Houses with Christmas trees? Check. The highway in the distance? Got it. The hydro towers? Sure.

The photographer in me takes note of his suggestions. Truthfully, none of them would have occurred to me to begin with. They strike me as standard, cliche-type images, and at first I don't much see the point.

But as we continue to toss ideas back and forth across the tiny balcony, it dawns on me that this isn't about photography at all. Sure, I'm taking pictures, but I'm having a moment with my father that, frankly, I have never had. Suddenly, the pictures no longer matter as much as the fact that I'm able to share something I love to do with him.

So I begin to work my way through his suggestions, composing each one carefully, metering it, then stepping aside so he can take a look through the viewfinder before I trip the shutter. Afterward, we review each one on the camera's screen, then I adjust the settings for subsequent exposures. As I work the controls, I explain what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, and what I hope the outcome will be.

After I finish capturing the last of his suggestions - a series of lights beside the water - I notice a tree immediately to the right of that spot. It's almost imperceptibly lit by a security light across the water. I can barely see it, and it's anything but spectacular. But my eye likes the way it reflects out over the water, and the way it covers an abandoned dock. My gut tells me I can get the shot. I share my thoughts with my father.

Dad: No way you'll ever get that picture. It's too dark.
Me: Wanna bet?
Dad: [Smiles]

I set up for a 30-second exposure, and the result appears above. The invisible became visible. The impossible became possible. And I came home with far more than a mere picture. Looks like I'll be going back to my parents' balcony soon.

Your turn: Photography is usually a solitary activity. But do you shoot with others? What's it like?


MaR said...

That's beautiful, Carmi. But I expect nothing but great shots when visiting your site! it is very magical...just awsome!
Here via Michele's this time

srp said...

Here from Michele this AM.
I sometimes take pictures with Nyssa, she's learning and her grandparents just got her a Coolpix purse size camera to play with. Apparently it will tell you if the picture is out of focus and ask if you want to keep it.

But often I do think of what you would photograph, so the acronym WWCP is true. Today I photographed creativity... in the wreaths and garlands crafted by Colonial Williamsburg.. also took in a few "Carmi-esque" shots as well.

Anonymous said...

Carmi, I see that image as a ultimate accessory to the story - the tree and it's reflection, you and your father...poetic.

Perfection, again.

Mike said...

Another wonderful picture. Congrats on getting to spend quality time with your father. Get as much as you can cause someday he won't be there any more.

Anonymous said...

I love that picture. It would be perfect framed and on my wall. You have a beautiful eye for seeking out beautiful scenes.

Thanks for sharing this picture. It really just jumps out at me.

kenju said...

Mar said it well, Carmi. I love that you were able to share your hobby with your dad. I don't think I ever saw my dad pick up a camera. He was more into tools and paint brushes...LOL

I love the solitary serenity this pic conjures up.

craziequeen said...

Oh, that's just beautiful Carmi, as is the backstory to the picture.

I would give my right arm for a 'balcony' moment with my dad. But perhaps that's a 'father/son' thing.

Like I said before, I have a very bad eye myself, and envy your natural ability to see the artistry around you. Not to mention the skill in bringing it to our eyes.

Hope you had a happy Hannukah,

Michele sent me today.

Linda said...

That's just gorgeous. Man, your blog inspires me!

I don't usually take pictures with others, unless we are at a party or function where we happen to have cameras together. My husband is an amateur photographer, and he doesn't ever give me hints, either.

I'm thinking about taking a photography class to learn a bit more about SLR and composition and all that fun stuff...then going at the world with his old SLR - unless there's a digital SLR under the tree (DOUBTFUL)

David Edward said...

HOW did you get that tree to stand stilkl for 30 seconds ( or the balcony) I did a picture of a candle this am from outside in the snow, used a step ladder for a tripod. You arte amking me look crazier than I already look. Good goin, Carmi!
Click - i picture you and your dad and it comes out ... a double exposure.
Two in one

Anonymous said...

You know, I guess I got my love for photography from the old man, who's never been sans K1000. We have, however, completely different styles. He'll spend about 5-10 minutes getting four toddlers to comply with his pose requests while I just snap away madly instead.

For me, it's definitely a solo thing... unless I pass the tradition along to the boys, in which case I'd gladly make it a shared experience.

here via Michele today, brouhaha.

kenju said...

Carmi, Michele bade me to return. The last tie I took photos with someone, it was my daughter, during our trip to Europe. She said "We are both going to have the same exact pictures!" and I thought, no, they will be different, even if we are shooting the same view. They were; the color or the exposure was different on each one!

Anonymous said...

oh my gosh, carmi that photo is amazing!

i usualy shoot bymyself because i like to walk around whatever i want to shoot and look at it from all the angles.

michele sent me this morning. :)

Anonymous said...

Lovely picture as always. I visited today to wish you and your family a very Happy Christmas. A bit early I know but just in case I don't get the chance again.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. The story, as well as the photo. Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

glad to hear the interview rocked!

michele says hi too.

Anonymous said...

what a striking photo. I just want to stare at it.
I share it with my daughter. Her P&S in her hands,my camera in mine. it's a relationship that i adore and treasure.

Anonymous said...

Nice shot!

I'm still kind of new to it, but I feel as though, like many arts, it is more a solitary activity than not. However, I could feel your experience with your father as well.


BTW: Season's Greetings! Michele sent me.

Linda said...

I'm back again, but because Michele sent me this time. Still love that picture!

srp said...

I absolutely love this picture. I love that it is taken at night. Someday when my dreams come true, I will have a Nikon, a real one. The tiny purse size Canon is fine, it does keep the Walmart police at bay but night shots are almost impossible.
My first order of business is my computer... it is putting the pink stripes on the page again... this time, nothing seems to make them disappear. Makes it hard to see if the pictures are OK. I see a computer repair geek in my near future.

Azgreeneyes said...

Beautiful picture and an incredible memory to store for this holiday season. Happy Holidays, Carmi!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to sidestep your question to tell you that reading this made me think that I had maybe one moment such as this with my dad before he died (I was 23). I've missed having him as a resource. And I really loved reading this. Everything about it. And that's one of my favorite of your pictures that I've seen.

You have the most therapeutic site on my blogroll.

Catherine said...

I don't take photographs with others - when I am travelling with my husband, we may both be taking photographs, but we don't really interact over it. Your story reminds me though of taking my children orienteering when they were small, in a place with fantastic rock formations. I was trying to hurry them up to get a good time, and they were saying "can we sit on the dog? can we climb the elephant?". I had to remind myself that finishing quickly wasn't the purpose on this occasion. Sometimes relationships are more important than the end goal. (And despite all that, you got a great picture anyway)
Michele sent me - she always does, sooner or later :)

Snaggle Tooth said...

Very cool Dad-shared moments! My dad's the one who got me into cams, movie-taking, n editing activities- wish he was still around to share photos with.

I spend almost all my time alone, cause I work nights with every one I know on the day schedule. I also have to shoot alone, unless it's of the people on special occasions...

Snaggle Tooth said...

Oh yeah, I hope your 8 crazy days n nights for the festival of lights are fun for your family,

Anonymous said...

That is so cool that you shared that with your dad. Those moments do not happen often enough in our lives.

utenzi said...

Michele sent me your way, Carmi.

I'd guess that 20% of my pictures are taken when I'm with someone else. Generally when hiking. I'm usually alone when taking pictures of birds or when kayaking. Usually alone when taking pictures of food too. Damn. I'm alone an awful lot now that I think about it....

Jennifer said...

I just snuck in to say hello and Happy Holidays to your family (is it Hanukkah that you celebrate?) Enjoy your time with your family and friends !!

Anonymous said...

I love parents...they always challenge...with love.
I love your pics from the last few days. Nice job!

Anonymous said...

awww what a nice post.

My dad is a photographer (like me). We have never had a moment like this. I hope we do one day.

Happy new year, my friend.