30 June 2010

what he sees


[I never think to take pictures of myself unless I am all dolled up. Which is (regrettably) not an everyday thing.]

Taking preventive steps against our inevitable summer doldrums, Rick and I got a start on queuing up our to-do lists for the next few months. For mine, I have ordered every baking notion conceivable: a pastry mat, hand-held blender, cookie sheet, silpat, and even a mixing bowl complete with handle and spout. Because, you know, nothing says summer like slaving away in close proximity to a hot oven.

In an exciting twist, Rick acquired a sort of how-to book for photography. Or – let me be precise – a how-to book for digital photography. (The excellent three-part collection by Scott Kelby, if you’re interested.)

My first job, of course, was to make fun of him a bit (ok, or maybe more than a bit – sorry, Rick) for ordering what is essentially the digital cameras for dummies series. Then I got down to the inevitable task of greedily perusing every page of volume 1 before he could get his hands on it.

Neat tricks I discovered include:
  • Adjusting the white balance to compensate for ambient light (a revelation!)
  • And I was inspired to bravely explore other cool settings on Rick’s Canon ELPH: vivid color and sepia, zoom blur, portrait mode

(Yes, for those of you keeping score, not only did I deign to look through his new books but, because of the over-abundance of magnanimity inside me, I also condescended to practice these techniques on his digital camera. No wonder he keeps me.)

These things alone would have kept me happily snapping digital photos for weeks, all besotted with a new sense of wonder. And then – behold! – I stumbled upon this sage advice:

One theme you'll see again and again throughout this book is to shoot from angles we don't see every day...If you want to create mountain shots that have real interest, give people a view they don't normally see -- shoot from up high...(This is the same theory as not shooting down on flowers. We don't shoot down on flowers because that's the view we normally have of them. In turn, we don't shoot up at mountains, because we always see them from that same view. It's boring, regular, and doesn't show your viewer something they haven't seen a hundred times before.)
[Scott Kelby's Digital Photography, Volume 1]

Now, let me clarify: I am not necessarily convinced of this theory when applied strictly as suggested. I have seen many a fine mountain shot taken from below, and have favorited (in flickr speak) several lovely flower shots taken from above. Though Mr. Kelby’s argument has its merits, it seems fairly useless to me as a hard-and-fast rule. It is pure genius, however, as a philosophy.

Taken as a general theory for life, this seeing from uncommon vantage points has real possibility. Occasionally I have moments where the possibility of my own appeal is lost on me — moments when I feel hopelessly fat, hopelessly unsexy, hopelessly uncreative and untalented. And it strikes me as such an extraordinary thing that there is even one person who is deluded enough to think otherwise. Remarkably, Rick does.

Whenever I am hormonally or emotionally tempted to completely underestimate my abilities or value, or when I succumb to an attack of unreasonably excessive humility, this is what I should remember. This is when I should take a minute to drop the magnifying glass I use to uncover every last weakness and fault, and look at myself through his rose-colored glasses instead.

(It feels like such a brave step, but really it is the only one that makes sense.)


P.S. Welcome to the grand re-opening of odd pear. Now with more writing!

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