Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Photo: The fine line between "Macho" and "Bonehead"

I had a project to do, about a month after my
girlfriend and I got together. A major storm had
blasted through and torn up a tree outside my mother's
house. There was junk everywhere, from that tree and
all the nearby palm trees, and it needed to be cleaned
up. My best friends were helping; this wasn't
unusual, they lived next door and had the same
problem. And my new girlfriend pitched in just so we
could spend some time together.

I grabbed the biggest branch from the downed tree, and
couldn't move it easily. So, under the mind-altering
influence of clean Arizona air and (very likely) an
overdose of testosterone, I came up with the brilliant
idea of breaking this branch with a karate kick.

I dragged the branch to a low wall, propped it just
so, and called on my vast knowledge of karate skills
(that is, four lessons in tenth grade, plus dozens or
even hundreds of hours of Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, and
The Matrix), and delivered what I hoped was a clean
and powerful and impressive-looking snap kick.

The kick was perfect; the branch snapped, right where
my foot landed. However, I only had half a second to
celebrate.

The heavy end of the branch, now totally disconnected
from the dead weight of the leaves and branches,
decided to come back for revenge. It spun perfectly
in the air, 180 degrees, and nailed me with a broken
stub, right between the eyes.

I opened my eyes to blue sky, and the faces of my
friends and family--all torn between horrified
concern at the blood on my face...and hysterical
laughter that I had done something so incredibly
stupid to myself.

I learned something that day...I learned not to karate
kick trees. Well, without an assistant holding the
victim down, anyway.

So, how do you tell the difference between "Macho" and
"Bonehead?" I suppose the best measure would be the
results. The end result of that particular
misadventure involves my friends and family and
girlfriend never letting me live down my stupidity.
Here's another example, and one that turned out much
better.

What does a photographer do with a perfect sunset and
way too much garbage between him and the horizon?
Why, he does whatever it takes to get the picture.

I was experimenting with my camera and sunset shots,
and I turned on the Vivid option, and as soon as I saw
the bright blues and reds in the LCD screen, I knew I
had to get a better picture. But, I was surrounded by
houses; I couldn't find a vantage point that would get
them all out of the shot. On the ground, that is.

So, I went to my next-door neighbor's house, and
climbed the railing around their deck, and shot my
picture with one hand--while hanging onto their roof
with the other and balancing on one foot on the
railing. Definitely ranks right up there with
knocking myself out with my own karate kick on the
"bonehead" scale. But, in this case, no one got hurt,
least of all me, and the final picture was most
definitely worth it.



The point of all of this random mumbling into my
personal acts of stupidity? Simply this: Don't be
afraid to try something new, like experimenting with
the settings on your camera. Sunsets taken with Vivid
turned on can be almost otherworldly. Just be careful
not to step over that fine line between "Macho" and
"Bonehead" along the way.

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