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Saturday, November 20, 2004

Autumn Tree

Ah, this was a beautiful tree indeed - the color of cinnamon - and although this was a cloudy day, you could sense the light beneath this tree being tinged with the same cinnamon flavor.  Flowers were everywhere in the park - but they barely gave me pause to stop.  Trees though, have fascinated me since I was kid.  There were lots of trees in the Bronx.  But I can't remember flowers.  True, there was the botanical gardens where my aunt Kate went every week to paint awful pictures of flowers, but flowers?  Was there any adventure you could have with a flower? 

When I was about ten years old, I formed and led my first and only club.  We didn't have a real name, but it might have been: Tree Climbers United.  Our goal, to climb every tree we could find, whether the tree had a low branch to get you started or not.  We outfitted ourselves with knotted rope, and a pen knife, and heavy sweaters (not sure what that was about) and went in search of trees to climb. 

The club only lasted one summer, but we did climb some magnificent  trees.  When we made it to the top, we could feel as if we were on the mast of an old-time sailing ship - looking out over the great ocean of concrete.  And we often did yell things like: There she blows!

Though probably all we saw was some city bus belching smoke.

My Aunt Kate brought me to the Bronx Botanical Gardens - and pointed out various flowery things - but they didn't leave much of an impression - and eventually she stopped taking me and took my sister who seemed to appreciate the flowers more.

All of this is just by way of noticing how often trees continue to pop up in my photographs - and how few flowers make any appearance.  Sorry Aunt Kate.  Salute to the Tree Climbers Club.

6:17:42 PM    

You are suspicious these days, just for having a camera and pointing it at anything other than a person you know who has been told to pose in front of a landmark.  Certainly, taking a picture of girls chasing each other around had to be done carefully, as I was under the watchful eye of several teachers and parents.  By carefully, I mean that this shot was done with my back to the various guardians.

But anything these days is fair game for suspicious looks.  A few days ago, I was crossing a street and noticed an interesting arrangement of lights on the back of an oil truck which was parked on the corner.  I didn't stop to analyze what was interesting - maybe just the colors, maybe the texture of the glass which enclosed the brake light; who the hell knows.  But I did stoop to conquer - and took one shot.  When I straightened up, there was a large guy giving me the eye.  And when I say, giving me the eye, it was a non-blinking, steady stare. 

And he didn't move to cross the street until I did.  And while we were crossing, I turned and saw that he was still staring at me.  I suppose I might have said: I don't know exactly why I took that shot.  Could you give me your name and address and when I figure it out, I'll send you an explanation. 

But I didn't.  I just continued on my oh so merry way to get groceries at the market.

So we photographers, unless we're doing a studio shoot, or working with fashion models, are all potential perverts, potential terrorists, or possible psychos.  It wasn't that way when I was growing up.  And it wasn't that way when I was in Europe - though it might be different there now.  I don't know.  So if you want to take it easy and not draw any suspicious looks, stick to good old nature.  Flowers.  Trees.  Dogs running around are fine.  Although you can't be certain about that since I might be a dognapper.

But if you take a picture of a flower, or a tree, make sure that there is nothing in the foreground or the background that might draw attention to yourself.

The other day, I was taking a picture of the top of a tree on 80th street - and a guy washing the sidewalk asked me what I was doing taking pictures of that building.  I told him, I wasn't taking pictures of the building (which was in the background) but of the tree. 

And then he looked at the tree - the leaves were briliant red, and we got into a discussion about how he had been watching that tree change color and how this was the best day - absolutely the best day - to take the picture and to let him know how it turned out because he loved that tree.

11:21:01 AM    


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