Sunday, August 21, 2011

All's Fair...

The Yolo County Fair was held this weekend. I'm still recovering from the crud I ate at the fair last year, so I didn't go this year, and as a consequence I don't feel like vomiting this year. See, you really can teach an old dog new tricks. (Not my actual old dog, mind you -- she's still tearing up paper plates into little tiny pieces because she can't turn them over -- but the metaphorical old dog, yes.)

Last year I was astonished at how closely my contest choices lined up with ribbons on quilts until I realized that pretty much everything in the entire building had a ribbon on it. I had even threatened to create a quilt and enter it this year to see if there was any way to not win a ribbon.

This year one of my friends entered a photo and won a blue ribbon.

Now, I am in no way saying that his photo didn't deserve to win a top prize in the competition. For all I know his picture is of Ansel Adams quality. True, it's a picture of a baseball diamond, which means that the subject is a little lacking in my book, but I realize not everyone feels this way. But my point here is not the quality of his photo, but the fact that I may have found something that I am even more unqualified to do or judge than quilting.

Back when I was in college the first time, I didn't have an inkling of how bad a photographer I was. Then I took a photography class. In that class I found out that a) I couldn't compose a picture, b) I couldn't get the exposure correct, ever, and c) I couldn't focus the camera if my life depended on it. It's a good thing this wasn't a required course or I'd still be trying to graduate (for the first time).

Because this was back in the dark ages, we developed our own black and white film and printed it. That didn't help things either. My prints were always distinguishable by the fingerprints all over them. Everyone else was doing fancy dodging techniques and experimenting with different sepia tones, and I was trying not to crumple the film into a little ball while getting it out of the canister. The instructor kept looking at my stuff and moving on without making any comment at all.

Anyhow, the point here is not that I suck as a photographer, it's that I realize I suck as a photographer only because someone pointed it out to me. I would have gone through my entire life not realizing how bad I was if I hadn't taken that class. And the thing is -- I still don't understand what makes one photograph better than another. It's like this whole area of my brain is just completely missing. If something has pretty colors and is more or less in focus, hey, looks good to me!

So anyways, congratulations to my friend Keith on his winning entry. Despite the fact that it's a picture of a baseball diamond, the photo has pretty colors and is in focus. I can't ask for more than that.

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