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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Staying Out of the Picture

My mom likes to look over the photos we've taken after we come home from a trip. If she has any criticism it's usually "Why aren't there any pictures with people in them?"

I've never been comfortable in front of the camera; I'd much rather be behind it.  Here's proof that I should really stay behind it:
Fourth Grade was very cruel to me...

Yup. That's me in fourth grade, sporting what I thought was the coolest outfit my mom ever made for me. My hair, alas, has not improved with the years (it refuses to comb itself) and there are only more freckles now. At least my teeth have gotten better: three years of braces and a cap over the left tooth (that I broke when I fell off a bike trying to do tricks and literally bit the curb) have greatly straightened my smile.

There were hundreds of people at the lake that day.  I was able to get them out by waiting, then maneuvering so they were hidden from view behind the trees.

But it's not just my unwillingness to be photographed that keeps me out of the picture. I really enjoy vast open landscapes and like to imagine what it was like before we all showed up to trample the view. So I sit, sometimes for a long time, waiting for people to clear out before I snap the shutter. I like to get up earlier than the crowds in Yosemite just to get a shot devoid of hikers and tourists. There's something distracting about Aunt Edna's hot pink track suit popping up in the middle of the neutral shades of Yosemite valley. Sometimes it's necessary to get some perspective in a shot, and that's when I make Mark walk ahead so he can be my "Mark-o-Meter." He's a good sport.

Here's an example of the Mark-o-Meter at work:

Figure A: Tenaya Lake
Figure B: Mark's Rock in Tenaya Lake

It would be hard to figure out how big that boulder is without the second shot. I liked the way his blue shirt blended with the colors of the scene. This particular Mark shot always reminds me of why we go to Yosemite: it's one of the few places on earth where we can completely relax and be happy. Our annual trip to Yosemite always starts with a swim in Tenaya Lake; it's where we rinse off the worries (I'm pretty sure we're not polluting--I think the cold water neutralizes them.)

Mark and John Muir, hanging out.
I'm hardly a professional photographer; Mark is my go-to guy when I have questions about the camera features and settings. But I really enjoy trying to get the camera to see what I'm seeing, and nature has the best stuff to practice on. I could never do portraits. I feel so uncomfortable in front of the camera I think it would rub off on my subjects. I can't even get a decent picture of the dog most of the time.

Mark will sneak in a photo of me once in a while, and I guess I'm glad there's proof that I actually made the trip. But I'd really just rather look at the view...

Resting on Stanford Point, camera equipment on my back.
Yosemite NP