Well.. not really.
My artist friend asked me to do a series of portraits for him as part of a project that he’s about to undertake. He wants me to do about a half dozen head shots that will be blown up to about 60 X 90cm. Should be pretty easy. I’ve done this sort of thing with him before, and he’s real easy to please. Quality takes a back seat to emotion -which usually isn’t too tough when you’ve got a model.
He’s got a show coming up at the end of the summer, (like everything these days, the dates are now speculative) so there’s plenty of time to prepare. Yesterday, I called around to a bunch of printing/imaging shops here in Toronto to find out who was open for business. Turns out, most are -at least in limited capacity, using curbside pickup. Bueno!
We discussed the idea behind the series of images, and although I like it a lot, I made sure to point out that I thought that if they were interpreted the wrong way, they could be rather incendiary.
We both paused for a moment, thought about it for four seconds, and then agreed, “Fuck it. Let’s do it anyway.”
Every morning, since we got hit with the plague, I’ve been getting up before sunrise, and walking the tracks that pass beside where I live. Rain or shine, doesn’t matter. Well… if it’s coming down like the wrath of… … some vengeful rain monster, I might be able to convince myself to go back to bed. It’s a nice long walk. I’ve seen rabbits, skunks, cardinals, and plenty of other birds and one could easily imagine one’s self outside of the city, if it weren’t for the underlying hum of white noise that every metropolis has.
It’s rare that I ever run into another person -which is also nice, but occasionally, there’s the odd jogger, or another person walking the path. Usually, I get the impression that they’re on a bit of a heightened state of alert, because ‘who knows what lurks in the bushes? Crack heads? Deranged alcoholic homeless? Degenerates fucking in the bushes?’ (I’ve seen them all)
The day before yesterday was the ‘happy crackheads day.’ A couple of guys, who must have been pulling an all-nighter, (or more) came ambling up the track path, in an overly animated meander. You could tell something was a bit off about them from a distance. As they passed, one of them garbled, ‘good morning’, followed by ‘hey man, want a smoke’ -which is odd; usually they’re asking me for a smoke. Generously, he reached into his bag and pulled out a well used crack pipe and offered me a blast. ‘Uh, no thanks. I’ve been clean for over five years,’ I lied. ‘But thanks for offering.’
‘Okay dude, good for you. Keep it up. I wouldn’t have offered if….’ Or something to that effect. ‘Hey, you got an extra cigarette?
‘Sure.’ How could I refuse?
Now, that’s either an example of a couple of human beings being civil to each other during trying times, or it’s the cleverest angle ever to get a cigarette: Offer some square, -me, a quick hit, knowing that it’s pretty much a sure thing that I’m going to refuse, (especially during these pox darkened days) and then hit him up for a cigarette. Brilliant! The perfect ruse!
O.k. Where was I? … Oh yeah…
Every morning I go out to the same place to photograph the same thing. Now one might think that since I’m quite familiar with the workings of my camera, and that for weeks now, I’ve been sitting in the same damned place for hours at a time, every time, or that because I’ve been taking stupid photographs of trains for well over twenty years, that I’ve pretty much got it nailed.
Sadly, that isn’t the case.
Sometimes, I’m distracted by an unusual bird, or animal that I’ll grab a couple of quick snaps of, knowing fully well that the images are going to be shit because I haven’t got a long enough lens, and then forget to put my camera back to the settings that I had earlier set them to, and other times, it’s because I just didn’t plan properly.
The top image is an example of the latter.
I hoped to get a shot of the train going in the right direction, coming around the corner into the morning sun. Shouldn’t be too hard, right?
Well, no. For starters, the weather -specifically, the clouds, have to cooperate, so that the damned thing isn’t in the shade. And the trains don’t run regularly. There’s no schedule to refer to. Furthermore, because lately I’ve been trying to mostly fill the frame with a crisp shot of the front of the train, I’ve got to have the focal length, and timing correct so I don’t get caught with my drawers down. I imaging it’s akin to what a hunter does when shooting a moving target: shooting not at where the target is, but rather where it’s going to be.
The top shot had everything. The light, the agreeable weather, and the camera with the right lens all set to go.
But I guessed wrong.
By the time the engine got to where I thought it would nicely fill the frame, it was almost bursting out of it. Not enough space at the bottom.
I’m hoping that by the time this corona shit is over, say in 2022, or something, I might actually have the shot I want…
Doesn’t look like it’s going to be much of a summer for street photography. I suppose I could be doing more from a distance with a long lens, but I don’t like doing that too much. Up close, and personal-ish always seems to be better for me, and I don’t feel like I’m being too creepy. Plus, you give your subject a fair chance to yell at you, or try to slap the camera out of your hand. Gotta keep it sporting…
But sometimes, I can’t resist. Because sometimes, a picture just presents itself to you:
…yup, I sometimes take my camera with me, even when I’m only going to the end of the block to get a pack of smokes…