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Beyond the Lone Islands

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

I Knew I'd Get In Trouble

I knew I'd get in trouble with my camera one of these days.

This summer I've been walking around town a lot taking photos, and getting more and more unconcerned what people might be thinking about it. It's not unconceivable that behind my back, perhap I'm getting known as "that woman who always stops and stares, apparently for no reason at all" or "you know, the one always waving a camera about even in places were there's nothing really interesting to photograph".

For example, people who rushed by in their cars over the bridge on Sunday morning, probably never even caught a glimpse of those spiderwebs that I was taking dozens of pictures of, walking back and forth on the sidewalk very slowly, stooping down and whatnot.

I'm still hesitant about taking pictures of people in the street. I did take some such pictures at the autumn market, because somehow, on such special occasions, people don't seem to be bothered about it, or even notice. Sometimes, I also try to get shots of people from a distance - like walking away from me. Just to get some sense of motion into the photo. Their backs turned towards me, they don't notice; and it's highly unlikely they would even recognize themselves if they ever came across the picture. Which in turn in itself is extremely unlikely that they ever would since I'm blogging in English and rather anonymously.

Yesterday, not far from where I live, I stopped in the street and got the camera out to get a shot of the continued autumn colour change in the treetops. I did not even really notice there were people further down the street, until after I put the camera back in its bag. Then I heard and saw them, a bunch of school boys occupying the whole sidewalk, shouting rather loudly to one another. I crossed the street over to the other sidewalk - still at quite a distance from them. Then as they approached, suddenly one of them called out - surprisingly polite, considering the language they had just been using towards each other:

- Excuse me!
I wasn't looking at him, and at first did not get that he was talking to me, across the street. He repeated:
- Excuse me!
- Yes? said I, turning towards him, thinking maybe he wanted to ask the time or something.
- Were you taking pictures of us? (suspicious tone of voice)
- No, said I, surprised (and hoping to myself I was telling the truth).
- But you had your camera out just now! (still suspicious)
- Oh... Just the trees... said I, with a very vague wave of my hand towards the distant treetops... and feeling very stupid, because the view was not really all that obviously stunning and worth taking photos of!

By then I sort of half expected having to clear the memory of my camera on spot, under supervision of half a dozen nearly-teenage-boys...

But astonishingly, all I got back was an "oh" and a shrug.
And they continued their way, and I mine, in peace...

When I got home, I checked my camera.
The boys were not in the picture.
Relief for my conscience!

But perhaps I'd better check the surroundings as well as my "focus" next time, before taking pictures in strange places... Or I might end up arrested for suspicious behaviour or something!


Rebecca said...

Oh I would have freaked out. I avoid photographing people as much as possible unless at some unusual moment in my existence I actually conjure up enough nerve to ask someone if I can photograph them. It is a very stressful moment for me and avoided as much as possible.

rae said...

It's never occurred to me that your subjects might object to having their picture taken. That would severely "cramp my style" if I were a photographer!

Pan's Island said...

I was in Montreal about a year ago. It was my first time in the city and I was exploring the downtown one night with a new friend I'd only just met earlier that day. Anyway, naturally I was taking pictures of this and that and if you can believe it I was asked to stop by some police officers - apparently they thought I was taking pictures of the university - our society has grown very paranoid.

jeannette stgermain said...

Haven't gotten in trouble yet in this way. Have taken pics of people with their permission, and they mostly ask me to send it to them by email.

Those spiderwebs on the bridge are awesome! Do you have photoshop to crop them?

DawnTreader said...

I'm not a professional photographer, I don't carry arouond a lot of equipment - just one very small simple camera... It's rarely close-ups I'm after, with strangers. I don't want them to "pose". I just want the image to show sometimes that there are people about in a certain place. In a tourist crowd in the summer, this has never been a problem. The more people, the more cameras about, the less paranoid we usually are.

Pan, why would it not be allowed to take photos of a university?? Individual people protesting, that I can understand... but a public building?

Jeannette, since this ummer I often make use of Paint Shop Pro to crop (if needed), clarify, sharpen. Sometimes this takes away a bit of the original colour so then I add that again by saturation. I find these steps usually take me back more or less to the original impression but a bit sharper. Sometimes I try out other things... Half the time I have no idea what I'm doing... trying to improve my intuition... The spiderwebs are not very heavily edited. They were quite extraordinary in themselves.

California Girl said...

I would feel self conscious with my camera out all the time but my husband, a photographer, doesn't think twice. He isn't taking many photos of folks tho', at least not w/o their permission. That is a no no in the profession. He never publishes a photo w/ a recognizable face w/o a release form unless it is party photos or the like. I guess you have to be somewhat circumspect, eh? Good luck!!!


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