Friday, April 15, 2011

The Joy of Pentax

Point, shoot! Van Winkle embarks on a photo quest.
One thing I've learned after all these months of being Van Winkled
is that living with proscribed access to what's happening in the larger world means that I have to make my own news and entertainment.

It's that or stare into an empty blankness until I wake up in September...

So one way I've redefined "news" for myself is that it's whatever I happen to notice happening in front of me, in real time, with my own eyes. There's an entire world of what some might call the "mundane" that unfolds before me each day. Like a faithful journalist, I try to notice it.

I've discovered something in the process. If a person really wants to make discoveries--some of them unexpectedly exciting--then he or she has to slow down and start to be more attentive. One way to do this is to pick up a camera and go looking for pictures.

Photo Ops
#$!*^%!! newspaper vending machine!
Last weekend my wife and I joined a photography workshop held in a small rural town that's close enough to a large urban center that it's become an attractive weekend destination. People shop for antiques or dance to country western bands inside the quaint old dance hall.

The whole package made for a nice getaway for the two of us--especially after I accidentally saw two words (out of several) in a newspaper headline.


This was almost unavoidable since the metal vending box for the papers was right outside the door to the bed and breakfast were staying at. I had to pass it several times a day.

Ignore that headline, Van Winkle! I was ready to spend two days in a more mature rewarding activity than shutting down the government.


I would be working with a one-note, comforting soundtrack: Snap! Snap! Snap!

Street Shots
As I dusted off my camera and began pointing the lens around I was hopeful something good might happen. It was an advantage that our able instructors provided tips and refreshers on photography so we might get better photos than in the past. You know, the rule of thirds, lower the F-step to blur the background, remembering to check white balance.

After our first class meeting we were given an assignment. We were told to go onto the street and into some of the nearby buildings and see what we could find.

I sought a sort of visual poetry.

I wanted to find shapes and colors and juxtapositions that my eye fell in love with.

My attention was drawn to simple things that spoke of a multiplicity of human actions.

To the photographic mind the most important news is the arrival of the light...

And more light...

Sometimes I knew I had found what I was looking for because of how it made me feel.

The Eros of Photography
Though I've placed the brand name "Pentax" in the title of this post, I don't intend it as a celebration or endorsement of this particular manufacturer of cameras. Yes, it so happens that, for various reasons, I own a Pentax K100D digital SLR. So what? Nikons, Canons, Minoltas, they're all fine. The great thing, however, about pairing the name "Pentax" with the word "joy" is how it echoes the title of a book that once sold with panting urgency in the 1970s: The Joy of Sex.

And that's what I want to make manifest here. The "joy of Pentax" is what occurs when taking a camera in hand and raising it to eye level and placing within a frame a small portion of our world. This simple activity can result in a kind of intimate carnal knowledge of the animate and inanimate things that surround us. Squeeze the shutter release and...

Photo orgasm!

And that's how you love the world with a lens.

- V.W.


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