Live and Learn

I hop out of my Kia gracefully. In my dreams, maybe. Since I had to wedge said Kia between two other vehicles in an under-sized parking spot in a chronically over-full parking lot, I actually edge out carefully, trying not to bang the adjacent SUV with my door and not to rub any (more) of the salt spray off my own vehicle onto my navy coat.

Ah, winter in Ottawa: my favourite.

This spot in the space-time continuum is where I would usually start the mental mutter about winter driving, all-season parking, and winter walking. Ice coats the sidewalk below the canopy overhang of this neighbourhood strip mall and I have visions of slip-slide-slamming into the curb headfirst.

But today, something stops me. “What?” you ask. “This,” I reply.

Colour-matching in car-window reflection

Indeed, it stops me cold. The blues of the sky, the sign, and the SUV itself. The lines, wavy and straight. Lovely.

I fish out my phone and take a photo quickly: Encounters with photo-subject drivers are always so awkward, explanations so tricky. (I need, like, a press credential to dangle around my neck.) I then complete my errand with no untoward slip-slide-slamming of head or any other body part, slightly distracted by wondering how to get a press badge but serene in the knowledge that I have a lovely photo.

Or not. Later that day my computer screen shows me what my sun-dappled phone screen did not: the dried salt spray on the SUV’s window. The spray my eyes did not see either.

Again and again the camera sees what my eye didn’t notice at the time. Sometimes I appreciate what it points out, like the detail of the hairy fuzz on the butterfly or the inadvertent face. Some I do not appreciate, like the power line running through a sunset photo of silhouetted conifers, or the dirt on a car window that spoils a reflection photo.

Well, live and learn, eh?

Not everything worth noticing is worth photographing.

Yup, that’s one possible lesson.

I need to start carrying glass cleaner in my car.

And that’s another.


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6 Responses to Live and Learn

  1. Alison Uhrbach says:

    I still love the blue sky! one of my favourite Alberta winter things! I do agree that you don’t notice lots of things until they are in your photos. Better with digital, where you can at least check them? used to have to wait till they were developed and you were a thousand miles away.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Alison – Yes, when I remember to check, it can be a big help. I find that the small screen and the sun glare can make it hard to check details, but mostly it’s just a matter of remembering to check . . .

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    Was it actually printed right to left? Or was that a photo flip? As a word person, I would have seen only the reversed direction of the print and missed the blue of the sky completely.
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – It’s a reflection flip. That is, the photo shows what I saw reflected: The camera didn’t do it.

  3. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – just as computers only do what they are told, cameras only take pictures of that at which they are aimed.
    I hate it when that happens!
    On the other hand, it is probably a good thing that computers and cameras can’t read minds.

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