a little Halloween hocus focus

I love Halloween. I love the crisp chill in the air, all the scary movies, ghosts hanging down from trees, spiders taking over my living room, and the last minute rush to carve and light the pumpkin before the first wave of trick or treaters start ringing the doorbell. I love all the trick or treaters, but especially the first-time pink costumed fairy princesses.

But this year, I think a black cat crossed the road when I wasn’t looking because there’s something a little scarier about Halloween this year. You can see it in my photographs.

It may have started with a little double vision or um … “ghosting.”

girlweb

Initially, I didn’t think too much about it, but then, when another photo went all blurry on me …

nightweb

I knew I had to do a little problem solving.

So I went out and took a few test shots with a couple scarecrows to figure this whole thing out, and here’s what I got.

scarecrowweb copy

Ruh-Roh.

Scarecrow #1 kind of looks blurry and like I’ve got double or octuplet vision.

And here’s scarecrow #2.

spiralweb

Well, you can see for yourself that this focusing problem was spiraling quickly out of control.

So I went to my eye doctor to see what’s up and he said the epithelial lining of my eyes looks like Swiss cheese.

“Holy candy corn conjunctivitis Batman!” I said.

batmanweb

“Is it permanent?” I asked.

“No, but I suggest you take these eye drops along with these other prescriptions and take a little fall break from photography. Limit your screen time.”

So I left his office feeling a good bit dejected until I returned home and was looking around in one of our cabinets and found a little square photograph of the sweetest little pink costumed Disney princess I have ever known. We used to call her “Boo.”

boo copy

Holding that photograph helped me put everything back in its proper focus.  Look at Boo now.

Bweb

Sometimes the best medicine is not found in prescription bottles or even in laughter but in the smiles we get when thinking of our children or other friends and family. I guess I have a lot to smile about.

So with everything now in focus, let me say Happy Halloween to you, and to you, and to Boo!

And for any of you wondering, I’ll have my camera back in hand and working this weekend.

Thanks for following my blog posts.

 

Do you have a favorite photograph?

Here’s one of mine.

_23A1711wIt was taken in March, 1953.  The teacher had taken her class of kindergarten students to Kentucky’s Blue Grass Airport to watch the airplanes fly in and out.  A photojournalist with the Lexington Herald took this picture as a feature for the newspaper.

Why is it one of my favorites?  Because the teacher is my mother and it’s a great environmental portrait.  My mother always loved children. Even when elderly and dementia prevented her from remembering familiar names or events, it was really not too surprising to walk into her room and find her singing or reciting a nursery rhyme to one or both of her very young great grandsons.  So I like this photograph because Mom is surrounded by children and looking happy.  It’s how I remember her looking at me as a child.  And I think the photographer achieved what all great portrait photographers strive to achieve.  He captured the essence or soul of his subject at that moment.  For me, that renders this otherwise 1950’s era photograph timeless.

What else do I like about it?  I like the leading lines of the fence and the kids hanging all over it.  I like that the girls are closest to the teacher and smiling for the camera while the boys, for the most part, are climbing every which way at the end of the fence and just being boys. They’re a mess.  I like the expressions on the girls’ faces and especially the shy grin on the girl closest to the camera.  I like all the coats, hats, bobby socks, Oxford shoes and even my Mom’s shoes.  I especially like that Mom is the only one pictured who is not wearing a hat, cap or scarf and her hair seems to be blowing freely in the wind.  To me that’s symbolic of the relative freedom in her life at that time.  Eight months later she would marry my dad and become a preacher’s wife.  While many good things came of that, I think it’s fair to say her hair never blew quite as freely again.

Mom died in November 2014, but I still think of her often and always on August 10th.  Today would be her 95th birthday.  Yes, 95th.  She was a little ahead of the curve in having a career first and then getting married and having children later in life.  She was years ahead of Sheryl Sandberg who penned the bestseller Lean In.  Look back at the photograph again.  Mom is “leaning in.”  

So … recently when attending a neighborhood happy hour social a new neighbor innocently asked, “What is your favorite photograph you’ve taken?”  His question caught me off guard and all of a sudden I had that sinking feeling you get when you’re interviewing for a job and the interviewer asks you a wide open question just to see how you respond.  It’s the “what’s your favorite book” question.  After thinking about my neighbor’s question for a minute, I answered, “I really can’t say there’s one photograph I’ve taken that I like more than all the rest.  Usually I have a group of favorites from each shoot, but there’s not one over-arching photograph I like better than all the rest.”  He seemed disappointed and we moved on to other subjects.

I’ve been thinking about my neighbor’s question and my response from time to time since.  In hindsight, I should have added, “but while I don’t have an all-time favorite photograph I’ve taken, I do have some favorite photographs – some I have taken and some others have taken.  One of my favorite photographs is of my mother who I loved very much.  One day in March 1953, a photojournalist I will never know took her picture …”

Do you have a favorite photograph?  I ask only because I’ve learned it’s worth taking a little time to think about.