Learning to Focus
There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer. ~ Ansel Adams
So, I splurged and bought a new lens. I most likely would have felt a pang or two of guilt if I had breezed into J.Crew with similar nonchalance and scooped up a brand new cashmere sweater for about the same price as that of my wonderful Nikkor 50mm gem. But with photography, I never feel guilt. (Never mind the fact that I would have preferred the f/1.4 to the f/1.8, but that would have definitely sent me down the proverbial spiral of guilt. And debt.)
One caveat/blessing with the new lens is, I now am forced to manually focus. While kickin' it old school and putting some blood, sweat, and tears into the mechanics behind getting a great shot each and every time is more satisfying to me, it sure ain't easy. Witness my first attempt:
"Hey, Mom! What up with focusing on my ponytail!"
The new lens is oddly reminding me of my turn as a PSU undergrad with a minor in photography. Back when I consistently found myself in pitch black closets with strangers, all fumbling in the dark for the dangling chain which held the bottle opener that would open our canisters of film. Winding the strip around and around in the dark, bumping awkwardly into other photog students, and whispering apologies while attempting to finish the task at hand as quickly as possible so as not to piss people off waiting to finally open the damn door... Shaking the developer, drying the film, burning, dodging, dipping... I forgot how much I had missed the organic, rough, real beauty of it all.
Though this digital age has got nothing on the photographic efforts of the past, in my very humble opinion, the lightening-speed path from snapping a picture to final print gratification is, well... quite gratifying. And I no longer have to feel my way around dark closets with strangers. I'm ultimately happy, however, that I had my '87-'91 education in photography. At the time, I may have thought an entire semester spent on the Zone System, taking pictures of one, solitary thumbtack stuck into a swatch of burlap, was less than inspiring. But I can now fully appreciate Ansel Adams' photos, and how incredibly difficult it is to take a picture that incorporates every single zone, from white to black, and all the grays in between (without Photoshop). He may have dried his prints in the microwave, but the guy was a genius.
AJ and Lila are growing too fast and it's a constant source of sadness for me. My babies are trading their chubby thighs and cankles for longer limbs. Their pudgy, dimpled hands are being replaced by increasingly slender fingers and visible wrists. One day, the undies that cover Lila's adorable coolie will be Tinkerbell-free. And AJ may, eventually, desist from wearing his undies backwards.
I bought the best lens for close-ups I could afford. I want to document what's left of their baby-ness before it all fades away. I want to focus on what's fleeting now, so maybe a part of it can somehow stay...
h a p p y f r i d a y !