“It is the little things that are vital. Little things make the big things happen.” John Wooden
I saw this thing, which I now know is a McCormick-Deering Grain Drill and thought it might make an interesting abstract for Cee’s photo challenge this week. I attached an L-Bracket to my camera to shoot vertically and set up my tripod.
The light wasn’t cooperating so I sat there and waited for a while when the first guy walked up and asked what I was doing. I gave him the short version and asked him what this thing was which he somehow knew.
Ten minutes later a second guy walked up and said: “One mans junk is another mans art right?” I liked his attitude but he was casting a shadow so I asked him to move. He stood there patiently apparently waiting for a response.
I told him I felt there were too many postcard type photos theses days and I like to photograph ordinary things in unusual ways. To see something like this close up and out of context you look at it differently.
So was it worth getting up early, using a tripod, waiting for the best light and processing the files? I’d say yes, it’s much easier than taking up golf and the last thing I want to do in the morning is spoil a good walk.
I pulled into the parking lot of a huge farm stand to try to get a good photo of pumpkins. I tried different angles, apertures and focus points with both of my cameras. Suddenly a smiling Amish guy comes out and asks me if I’m with the newspaper.
I told him no and continued shooting while the light was good. A minute later he was standing right next to me. This time I decided to enlighten him to what I was doing and why. The conversation went like this:
Q. “Are you a photographer?
A. “Well I guess that’s a matter of opinion.”
Q. “Why are you taking so many pictures?”
A. “I’m trying to get one good one.
Q. “What do you do with these pictures?”
A. “I have a website (I figured saying I had a blog was too confusing).
Q. “How do you make money doing this?”
A. “I don’t, it just gives me something to do.
This went on until the clouds burned off and it was too bright. I took a chance and actually asked him if he had a computer to show him some of my stuff but of course he didn’t.
I wanted to explain to him what that great philosopher Charlie Brown once said: “If we could see the miracle of a single pumpkin stem clearly, our whole life would change,” but I thought his head might explode.
I said goodbye and got into my car and he said Beheef dich! It sounded like he was calling me an insulting name in Pennsylvania Dutch but it turns out that the phrase just means behave yourself.
“Find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides.” Junichiro Tanizaki
I believe it was Edward Weston who said there are no bad onions, only bad photographs of onions. So when I saw the Free Onions sign I stopped to grab some for a still life. But they were all bad and I didn’t want to stink up my car.
I took a few shots to see if I could capture their beauty even though they are basically pig food now. I’m not sure if this is a good photograph because I’m not a professional onion photographer, but it’s my best out of thirty five.
Weston also said something that I’ve always liked: “Anything that excites me for any reason, I will photograph; not searching for unusual subject matter, but making the commonplace unusual.” Now all I have to do is explain that to the Amish farmers.
“It is the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.” Charles Dickens
“If you work hard, and become successful, it does not necessarily mean you are successful because you worked hard, just as if you are tall with long hair it doesn’t mean that you would be a midget if you were bald.” Lemony Snicket
I stopped at an Amish flower stand to check out the sunflowers I saw last week and an old woman on a bicycle rode up and said hello. I mentioned how big they got and she told me that she didn’t plant them, it was the birds.
When I asked her if any were flowering she told me there was one on the end of the row but something was wrong with it, it wasn’t perfect. I walked over with the curiosity of Schrödinger’s cat and wondered what she meant.
As soon as I saw it I knew that it was absolutely perfect! The leaves protecting the flower were growing at an odd angle but it was very healthy and probably happy to have someone care so much about it.
I took a few photos as the clouds burned off into bright sunshine, the kind of bright that makes color photos of flowers look washed out, so I knew I would end up converting this to black and white. I thanked the woman and told her she made my day.
“Do you think it will be OK?” she asked me before I left. I was a bit surprised at the question but I figured she was used to dealing with two headed calves and vegetables that grow to look like genitals, the Amish hate when that happens. I assured her the flower would be fine.
The Buddha said: “Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up because you will lose the ability to learn new things. Move forward with your life.” I didn’t tell her that because she was close to 80 and I’m sure she has life pretty much figured out by now.