A Second Pair Of Eyes
Sunday afternoon. Another damp, overcast mid-autumn day. My compact digital camera sits in its bag, slung over my shoulder, underneath the protective layer of my jacket.
The gray skies leave me uninspired. Sometimes I spot something that would look interesting after it gets dark, nighttime lighting: watery reflections, close-up shots. But nothing catches my eye. I walk into the coffeehouse to warm up with a cup of joe.
Around 5PM my friend Janis stops in. The sun has set and it’s already dark outside. She asks me if I could take a photo for her, something she noticed on the way in.
I follow her outside to the table I had passed by earlier without a glance. And most likely I would have been oblivious a second time when I went home, unaware of how the night had transformed its wet surface.
The tabletop is painted with a purple background, one of her two favorite colors. Bright yellow stars dot its metal surface. Rainfall has been reformed into big beads, a striking pattern of reflective liquid lenses. The main lighting isn’t the best, just the yellowish glare from an antique streetlight. Janis is aware that the light is low, meaning that getting a good shot while handholding will be tricky.
But I try it anyway, shooting wide-open at 1/6th shutter speed, trying to stand still, imitating a rock-steady tripod. Then I go inside, grab a chair, and then brace my camera on its back. I take a few more shots. I review them on my LCD screen; they’re OK but they could be better.
So I trudge home, return with my tripod, and get closer shots with longer shutter speeds and therefore more depth of field. I play around with the color balance on the camera, changing it from automatic white balance to tungsten to fluorescent lighting. Different settings, different color casts.
I end up with some good shots. Images that I would have missed if not for a second pair of eyes that spotted what I had overlooked.