Everything has a First. The significance and the beauty of that quotidian word struck me as I was looking through the mess that is my “box” of photographs. In this quirky machine box, that is. My photographs are as organized as my life. Finding First took awhile. I still don’t know where I put some of him.
I have a guru. A real one. He tells me what to do, how to do it, and fixes the stuff I break and finds the stuff I lose. He’s done it for twenty-five years at least. If I find First, it’s because he kept up with him. Thank you, Ray.
My guru is a lifetime lover of cameras and photography. He knows everything about them. He understands how they work and what the indecipherable jargon means. He sets my camera back on “auto” when I hit the wrong button. He allows me one adjustment: ISO. I only know that I can adjust it, if I remember, so that I can actually see the image in the blackness that would have been my photograph. And that is enough.
He made me buy my first camera. I think it was a Fujifilm. I don’t remember the model. I do remember the excitement. The thrill of seeing an image I had actually captured myself…all by myself. I am no better photographer today. I may be worse and not because the old stalker, Familial Tremor, is catching up to me. First happened before I became self-conscious. Before I became self-critical. Before I knew what depth-of-field meant. Before I became conscious of “composition”. First allowed me the freedom to be free. First allowed me the joy of discovery unfettered by Information.
Those were the days and nights of adventure. Of Firsts. Lord, how I marveled at the pictures. Here are some of them only slightly lightened when they were too dark to post or, when I couldn’t resist, a little saturation added.
This old pewter rosary still hangs from the lampshade on my desk in the “new” house too. I found it in a junk store in a box of junk. That was years before the camera and the First happened. I used to sit at my desk and photograph everything in sight. I kept the lamp who is a camel with metal palm leaves shading him. And I kept the rosary.
The-Boy-Who-Grew-Too-Tall had a fascination with insects and snails when he was a baby child. Here he found a ladybug on the driveway. I loved taking pictures of his little plump, dimpled hands. I must have just found out how to change color to black and white. I hope I still have the color image somewhere.
This is before we installed a wrought iron gate at the entrance to the back of our old house. The gate was cedar like the fence, but we had to get out of our cars to open and shut it. My husband finally tired of that and installed an electronic gate. The new gate often refused to open all the way. It ripped off two very expensive outside mirrors from my car too. The meter reader either left it open or couldn’t see the lockbox mounted on a post right in front of him. The box held the key. We got billed $60 every time that happened. I think some electronic stuff is more trouble than it’s worth.
This spent blossom on a Lily of the Nile surprised and delighted me. It was a true First. I had been wandering around the yard one night in the moonlight snapping things that I liked. I found this on my camera card when I went back inside. I have no idea what I did to it. I know the fence must have been bluish in the moonlight anyway since I had little ability to post-process anything and no notion of the existence of that word. I still like it…even if it sits right smack in the middle of the photograph. That makes me smile too.
FIRST. This was a real first for me. I was so thrilled by this photograph that I emailed it to Guru. He put a frame on it and emailed it back. His way of complimenting me, I suppose. I know he laughed at my foolish pride, but he never said so. The lemon tree is long gone, but I’m still proud of my lemons!
This is my old garden friend, Rabbit. He moved to the new house with me. I have lots of photographs of him. The thing that amuses me about this First is that I discovered some fad feature of whatever simple graphics program I had at the time. I was fascinated by it. I changed all kinds of photographs into unrecognizable contortions of themselves. And I loved it. I still like the full-resolution of Rabbit here. Lordy, how cool I thought I was!
Okay, for fun, I have to show you one more. If I recall correctly, this is a photograph that I shot looking down into a bowl of potpourri. That’s what I meant by “distortion”. Even I began to see these contortions as absurd and tired of them pretty soon. Ah, but they were a First. And First is always sweet.
The only photograph I still have of the bird feeder at the old house is this low-resolution one. It was very dark so I worked on it a bit here. I loved that photograph. I remember that it had just stopped raining that late evening. Everything was fresh and wet and took on a different feel because of the rain. I remember clearly the delight I felt looking at this one. I will never forget that bird feeder and the joy it gave me because it was the First.
This gardenia bloom was on a tree in a pot on my mother’s porch at the old house. She lived in a house we built across the patio for her. It looked as if it were part of our house, but it was a separate house. She lived there for twenty years before she died. She had been a gardener her whole life and loved flowers so I kept flowering shrubs and even this tree in pots on her porch. She used to inch along in her wheelchair beside me when I planted her old favorite annual flowers each spring. She could no longer stand or bend to plant them herself, but she directed me every step of the way. I think it was almost the same for her. After the plants bloomed, she spent a good deal of her time rolling along in her chair pinching off dead blooms and pinching back the plants so they would bunch out and not grow tall and scraggly. She knew what she was doing. I don’t garden at the new house. It just doesn’t feel the same.
I don’t think this one requires an explanation. Little boys and snails and puppy dog tails. I was excited to catch him just as he plucked the snail off the wall. A First “action” shot for me.
I don’t recall the first photograph I took with First camera. They were all First. I recall, as if it were yesterday, the last one before her sensor bit the dust.
I had carefully taught Rita how to perform her Assisted Flight Air-O-Bics designed to insure that she got enough exercise. I taught her exactly as my parrot consultant had instructed. Rita loved it and so did I. She would lie in my hand and “fly” around the yard with me following her lead. Wherever she turned her head, that’s the way we went. The Flight Air-O-Bics was designed by my bossy consultant and President of The Amazona Society of the United States, Shari Boudoin. Nothing but the best for Rita Girl, you understand.
On this day, I handed my First to my husband to snap a photo to send to Shari. He’d never touched it. He was an old 35mm Minolta guy who had given up photography by then anyway. As Rita tried to head out, he snapped the last shot Fujifilm Girl ever breathed. Later, I thought it a little ironic that he took the last shot. Maybe it was a First for him.