Saturday was spent stumbling around an apple orchard. You’re not supposed to eat the apples before you take them back, weigh in, and pay for them but that seems like a completely unreasonable request. It’s only natural to reach up and grab a perfect piece of fruit, pluck it from the branch, and take a big juice-filled bite of nature’s bounty. If anyone had turned their camera on me then, they would have captured pure bliss. It’s not really autumn for me until I’ve eaten an apple in the orchard.
Surrounded by apples, pumpkins, and Indian decorative corn is transformative for me. It’s the changing of the seasonal guard, and it ushers in my favorite time of year. Maybe it’s because I was born in October, or maybe it’s the serenity of the atmosphere as the year begins to wind down and the cycle comes to its end. Flowers may bloom in the spring, but the colors of the fall, subtle red, orange, brown and yellow are for me the most pleasing palette.
As I work to improve my photography at every level, this was the first fall for me with a camera in my hand and at my eye. I wanted to enjoy the activity, my son and I popping in and out of row after row of apple trees. This is one of the most important things that I’m working on right now, making sure that I’m not dissociated from the activity and the people I’m with while still documenting the moment. It’s a difficult line to walk. I’ve found that the better I understand how to use my camera, the easier it is to process mechanical changes and then take the picture in a smooth, fluid manner that is the least distracting.
My son never fails to notice when my attention has shifted. I can feel his eyes on me. It’s like he has to compete with the camera, and it makes me feel terrible. He’s twelve years old, and no matter how I’ve tried to drag him towards those things that I love doing (like Photography or Role Playing Games) his interests lie elsewhere. It’s somewhat selfish of me, since I know that if we BOTH had a camera in our hand then I wouldn’t be doing this while he is doing that. We could share in this selfish behavior together.
This is a story I’ve read elsewhere. Many photographers take their camera everywhere, always ready to document their surroundings if an interesting opportunity presents itself, much to the chagrin of the people in their lives. It seems like it’s a balance few achieve to perfection, but is more likely a constant work in progress with either the photos or your family on the winning end of that stick. I’m sure that a select group has found some sort of harmony, and I’d be interested in knowing how they’ve managed it.
I’ve tried to make my photography less intrusive by introducing a different, lower profile camera than my dslr. The Fuji X100f has gone a long way to helping me regain that balance I’m looking for. It’s relatively small, it has a fixed 35mm equiv. lens, and it’s retro classic styling means it doesn’t gain the attention that my dslr + lens usually does. It’s shutter is super quiet, so most folks don’t know if I’ve taken a photo or i’m just sizing one up, which works well in situations when I’m feeling like capturing more candid images wherever I happen to be. This isn’t a review or an endorsement, nor do I plan on doing one on this or any camera (I’m not really qualified) but I can speak to how invasive the camera is with regard to my personal life and shared time. In this respect, it seems to alleviate some of the problem. I know that having my dslr at my side, changing lenses etc. was a much bigger issue for my son than this smaller camera.
In the meantime there’s my son’s face, usually twisted in the shape of a lemon as he sneers at me and my camera. I know that part of him just wishes that ALL of me was present while we are out together. Another factor (and if you have/had a pre-teen you will get this part) is that he’s embarrassed by my behavior. No matter what I would do or how I would act in public he would feel that way, even if I just told a joke. Everything I do is a loud, stinky public fart to him.
It’s the fall, and I want to take photographs of the waning daylight as it pierces through the colorful leaves that weakly cling to their trees. My son is learning to deal, I’m learning to be more ‘in the moment’ with him and less so with the camera, and like the weather we are all staying cool.