I was heading for the car to go grocery shopping last Friday afternoon when I saw a shaft of sunlight illuminating a patch of snowdrops in the shrubby area behind our house.
Spring had sprung, and it was backlit.
I dropped everything and went to find the Toy Camera. And before I knew it, I was in the middle of the first real Artist Date in a long time. (As practitioners of the Morning Pages exercises know, Julia Cameron recommends most emphatically that artists—including artists of words—treat themselves every single week to something that nourishes their creative soul.)
A couple of lifetimes ago I was a pretty good available-light photographer. Then the river of life swept me down a side channel, and by the time I came up for air, digital photography had bloomed. While I do not miss the smell of darkroom chemicals one tiny bit, I do miss the precision of a Nikon F2. A comparable digital SLR has been beyond the budget up to now, so I’ve been making do with Toy Camera, a point-and-shoot with a decent pedigree that I bought the day of Younger Son’s high school graduation. I got it for very good price, perhaps because it was already obsolete.
I have maintained all my photographic career that it’s not the camera that counts; it’s the person behind the camera. I still believe this, but when you’re used to a Real Camera, a point-and-shoot can feel… primitive.
For one thing, Toy Camera likes to contemplate a scene before actually registering it. I’m a life-long Catholic; I’m just fine with contemplation. Some of my best friends…etc. But when there are baby ducks involved, a contemplative lens results in dozens of .jpgs showing where the baby ducks used to be.
The other problem is that I miss f-stops something fierce. I try to control the depth of field by playing around with the focus, and Toy Camera starts going all HAL on me: “I’m sorry, Anne. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
However, for grabbing a quick snapshot of snowdrops backlit by the afternoon sun, Toy Camera works just fine. The snowdrops never once tried to waddle out of the frame. It was a very satisfying Artist Date, even if I did get leaf bits all over my jeans and dirt stains on the elbows of my parka.
I realize as I’m writing this that all those Bud photos I’ve been posting for “blogging practice” qualify as Artist Dates, too. And speaking of Bud: here’s Sunday morning’s photo from Day 4 of the Grand Opening. It looks as if another four-flower extravaganza is on the way.
FWIW, the potting medium involved is a custom mix of 1 part vermiculite, 1 part peat, and 1 part mixed compost (a bag of this, a bag of that, a bucket from the backyard compost heap). I’m pretty sure this is the secret.
© 2010 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go