Vineyard Haven Dawn, 2010
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Our friend Brenda told us about how last Wednesday she made a lemon meringue pie to take to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving. Only while she and her husband were tending to other things their dog used its paws to stand up at the end of the dining room table and eat half of the pie.
Brenda had time to make another pie later that afternoon. The friends who were hosting the Thanksgiving dinner are big fans her Brenda’s pies and she was determined to thank them by bringing them one of their favorites.
Only while that pie was setting up, this time up on the kitchen counter, Brenda’s husband had to go to the doctor’s office unexpectedly and they didn’t get back home until late, whereupon they discovered that the dog had managed to reach up and eat half of the second pie.
(Like Brenda’s husband, my first instinct at a time like that would have been to cobble the two untouched halves together and cover them with some fresh meringue. But Brenda’s a stickler about food safety. So enough said about that good idea.)
On Thanksgiving morning Brenda got up early and made yet another pie. This one she guarded personally until it was time to go to the friend’s house.
I don’t think it’s stretching things too far to say that making pictures can sometimes be like this. It used to be you could take a terrific picture and then have it destroyed if you didn’t develop the film properly or if two pieces of negative touched each other during processing. That’s what happened to this picture, a once-in-a-lifetime photographic opportunity ruined.
SS United States, 1989
I sent the film out for processing and it came back with emulsion all over it. All I could do, years later with the assistance of Photoshop, was clean up the emulsion spots and blur the image into a work of Impressionism.
These days it’s most a matter of taking your picture and then discovering something wrong with it when you get it up on the screen. It could be a bad exposure or an item that intrudes in the scene that you didn’t notice when you were taking the picture.
Most times I have only myself to blame for the faults. Like in the case of Vineyard Haven Dawn, above. I knew the light wasn’t right when I took the picture. But I think I could have ended up with something much better if I’d been more mindful of exposing for the rising sun, which in the absence of having done such is just a big blown out blot on this picture.
But next time this happens I think I might blame it on the dog. There were dogs on the ferry where I was standing when I took this picture. If Brenda’s experience is any indication, that ought to be good cover for a couple of bad shots.