the photoshooter's journey from taking to making

ON THE ROAD TO FINDOUT

A box of mirrors: 1/500 sec., f/5.6, ISO 100, 35mm.

A box of mirrors: 1/500 sec., f/5.6, ISO 100, 35mm.

By MICHAEL PERKINS

LATELY I’VE TAKEN TO GRABBING LYRICS OR TITLES FROM POP SONGS TO SUM UP WHAT I WANT TO SAY IN A GIVEN POST, and apparently I haven’t yet kicked the habit. Like the searcher in Cat Stevens’ early ’70’s tune, I am sure that (a) I don’t really know where I’m going most of the time, and (b) the place I’m eventually going to will explain all, eventually. Pretty sunny outlook for a burned out old flower child, I’ll admit, but, especially in photography, the journey is the quest. What we encounter “on the road to findout” is worth the price of the trip.

That’s a fancy-pants way of saying that, frequently when I’m on a photo walkabout, I only think I know what I’m looking for. Sometimes I actually snag the object of the expedition, then find that it’s as disappointing as winning that cheap plush toy that looked so wonderful behind the carnival barker’s counter. Such a thing happened this week, when I drove five miles out of my way to revisit a building that had grabbed my attention several months prior. Short term result: mission accomplished…building located and shot. Long term result: what did I think that was going to be? Ugh.

I was walking off my mild disappointment, heading back to my car, and then the mundane act of stowing my camera forced me to rotate my gaze just far enough to see what the midday light was doing to the building across the street. It’s masses of glass looks rather flat and dull by morning, but, near noon, it becomes a slatted mirror, kind of a giant venetian blind, reflecting the entire street scene below and across from itself. The temporary light tilt transforms the place into a surreal display space for about thirty minutes a day, and, had I not been standing exactly where I was across the street at that moment, I would have missed it, and missed the building as a subject for the next, oh, 1,000 years.

Kurt Vonnegut had a dear friend from Europe who always parted from him by hoping that they would meet again in the future if the fates allowed. Only the idiom got crumpled a little in translation, coming out as “if the accident will”. Vonnegut loved that, and so do I.

On the road to findout, we may take wonderful pictures.

If the accident will.

Follow Michael Perkins on Twitter @MPnormaleye.

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