Starting today’s diatribe with a question, I’d like to inquire of those who are avid photographers: do you notice perfect strangers will walk up to you out of the blue to find out what you’re photographing?
By avid photographers, I mean those with professional-looking equipment like DSLRs with detachable lenses, carrying a tripod and ditty bag.
Those with smart phones and point-and-shoot cameras are a dime a dozen, usually taking selfies which need no explanation; although that doesn’t lessen the work of many true-photography enthusiasts, who use the convenient devices to produce the outcome of their photos.
Perhaps the appearance of a 500mm lens attached to a digital camera, a full half-meter long (20 ” in length), protruding out like a small telescope, catches most everyone’s attention.
The other day when I was passing someone on the way back to the Cooper after visiting the City Park ospreys, the guy said, “What do you take photos of with that lens? You can probably see clear across the river into the windows of those mansions.” What a pervert, I thought.
“I take shots of whatever strikes my fancy,” I said, pointing out the range marker in the Delaware River with the ospreys’ nest atop of it. “Wildlife is my preference,” I added, thinking there is plenty of that at City Park today.
The man stammered and said he didn’t know anything about birds. To me it seemed he had an avian brain, however. I bid him good day.
Yesterday while at Pennypack Park, checking on the flourishing fauna and flora of the esteemed wildlife preserve in Philadelphia, I was sitting on a picnic table alongside my beloved Delaware River. The camera and big lens were mounted on a tripod, pointed out across the waterway, capturing photos of an ospreys’ nest on a range marker ahead of Dredge Harbor, and shots of the US Coast Guard’s attack tug, “Capstan.”
From behind me appear two gentlemen: one in a wheelchair who was being pushed by the second, his friend. They were both aging baby boomers, Vietnam-veteran era. At first the questions ranged about the camera, what size lens, what am I shooting; and did I know bald eagles nested in the old sycamore tree?
I know they were being friendly and meant well. That stuff doesn’t bother me at all. If my experience in photography can help another in their quest for a Pulitzer prize-winning picture, I’m all for that; but listening to their ensuing litany all about things and places I know already—as everyone seems to do whenever I encounter them on countless occasions—turned old long ago.
My being informed about various haunts at which I hang out regularly, to wildlife preserves around the region I’ve seen, various raptors along the nearby stretch of the river, Cape May for birding, where the eagles nest at Pennypack Park is, etc., grates my nerves every time during my typical rendezvous with strangers while I have my photography equipment, dangling from my limbs and torso. Everyone wants to come off like an expert, I suppose.
Being the people person that I am, I attempt to act surprised and say, “Wow, I didn’t know that. Thanks for the info. I’ll have to check those places out,” which soothes their egos, releases my frustration and tends to end the direct questioning.
When these well-meaning individuals start telling me their life stories, or try to infuse their political beliefs and rantings into our conversation is when I decide to pack up and say, “See you later.” Some people, once they’ve caught your ear, never shut up. Sorry to seem so cold, but I’m there to take pictures, not serve as a psychiatrist or right-wing conservative.
My latest crusade is against the auto-parts company who changed the oil in my car recently, as seen above, who stripped out the oil-pan’s plug during the course of the servicing, necessitating the entire replacement thereof plus a new gasket for the resultant leakage, for a cost of over $1,000 at the Mini dealer. I’ve filed a claim with the former for the unforeseen damage to my vehicle and the resulting charges. I’m still waiting to hear back from them after three days.
Calling the service center earlier this morning, I found the one responsible for reviewing the documents and recommending compensation was off today; but she will be in tomorrow, at which time I’ll personally pay the woman a visit.
There’s always something. Happy summer solstice belated and thanks for your continued support.