Tuesday, July 26, 2005

California in Digital Images: a Retrospective

I spent the past few days in Berkeley, CA, visiting friends and family and eating far too many carbohydrates. I got to travel through San Francisco for the first time ever, too. It's a pleasant city, although the entire town is uphill. Seriously, there's no downhill. If you climb a hill and want to go back down, you have to hike up another hill to get there. It's like being trapped in an M.C. Escher painting.

I did get to visit City Lights Books, which is, like, the Mecca of poetry. As I ascended the stairs to their Poetry Room, I was overwhelmed with thoughts of the multitudes of poets and writers--the famous, the soon to be famous and the infamous--who have performed there over the last few decades. "I gotta get a picture of this," I thought, slipping my digital camera out of my pocket and glancing around for a good angle. I wasn't sure if the bookstore had rules against photography, and I couldn't remember if taking pictures of books counted as copyright infringement, but I figured as long as none of the artsy-looking patrons noticed, I'd get away with it. I backed into a corner of the room while pretending to browse through a selection of African-American poetry anthologies, then wheeled around and snapped a quick picture.

Technology has never been my strong suit. For some reason, I just assumed that because I wanted to get a good photo without anyone noticing, the camera would acknowledge my wishes and refrain from using the flash. Instead, a birght burst of light filled the room, and I ended up with a picture of several startled hippies and a bookshelf.

In the long run, this photo nicely complimented the other shots I got of San Francisco, including the only public ashtray I saw all day, an adult video store with a marquis that read "20% Off Lingerie and Shoes," and a 10-second film of my feet, recorded when I accidentally activated the camera's video feature. My personal favorite, however, is the shot of my shirt and an escalator, captured while I was temporarily blinded by sunlight reflecting off the viewfinder.

Overall, I fared better in my photojournalistic efforts at the Egyptian Museum in San Jose. One of the great things about hanging out with Pagans is that if you suddenly yell, "Quick, do something Egyptian!" they instinctively strike appropriate poses. The "America's Next Top Model" lovelies could learn a lesson or two, y'know?

No comments: