Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Where You Least Expect Them

Cow, 2012

A friend who’s recently taken a greater interest in photography commented to me the other day that this new interest has made him much more cognizant of his surroundings. This comment was a bit surprising to me because the aspiring photographer is also an illustrator who, when he isn’t tilting at windmills with his editorial cartoons, is thought to be a pretty observant person already.
In any event, unless you’re one of those photography enthusiasts who just wants to fiddle with dials and argue over f-stops, photography’s all about noticing things.
It’s not like pictures just reveal themselves to you. No, I’ll take that back. I have met people who only take pictures at official “scenic overlooks” where some expert has previously determined that “approved pictures” can be taken.
I’m not one of those people. Rest assured, too, I would never argue with you about f-stops.  And as for taking pictures at Scenic Overlooks, I’m one of those people whose car will be pulled over to the side of road blocking traffic somewhere farther up the mountain where you’re not even supposed to park if that’s what it takes to get a more interesting picture.
Unless you’re one of those tortured souls who’s got some original artistic message to get out into the world through the eye of a camera or you’re doing this for a living, the whole idea of photography is to have fun. The neat thing is that you can have fun every day because there are opportunities for pictures everywhere.
Don’t believe me? I had to take something to the city dump a few weeks ago. Taking something to the dump isn’t as easy as it used to be. At the outer gate, they check your driver’s license to make sure you’re actually a resident of the city. Then you have to go to another area where you drive onto a truck scale to assure another attendant that you’re not dumping off a load of radioactive anvils. Then you’re directed to yet another shed further down the road where they assess exactly what it is you have to dispose.
Eventually you find yourself further down the road in a place so muddy and desolate that it looks like something out of Mad Max or maybe a place where the thugs in a Guy Richie film would take someone who couldn’t pay his gambling debt to be eaten by feral pigs.
Speaking of farm animals, just as I was finally headed to the section of the dump where they accept old tires, I happened to look over toward the landfill and find this cow.
At first I marveled at how out-of-place this plastic cow was in its carefully mowed circle at the side of a landfill. But then I grabbed my phonecam and chuckled at the realization that this was just another example of how there are picture opportunities even where you least expect them if you keep your eyes open.

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