Saturday, October 4, 2008

Lovely Surprises

Some readers of this blog may recall a post I did in August, where I finally scrambled after a horse and rider who I very often saw on weekends downtown, and was able to photograph a few times on its steady trek through our fair summer streets. Yet, the photo I really had in mind still eluded me.

It would be through the window of Ardella's Downtown Diner, as I had seen it so many times before, but passing too quickly to turn on the camera, frame the shot, hold still, and press the button, all in time for it to be directly opposite from me at the dining counter. I had told the diner owners, who had told the staff, what my vision entailed. So for months, they would share a chuckle every time the horse went by and I wasn't there, or even better, after I had just left. But I blogged what I got, and had pretty much forgotten about it.

Then, on a recent Sunday, I had finished my late breakfast and lingered over coffee even as the "Closed" sign was turned, and the table settings put away. The boss always keeps everything sparkling clean, and I suddenly noticed the interesting effect of the lights reflected on the black granite she had just wiped down. She has gotten used to me taking pictures of my food, or other people's food (yes, I ask first... mostly), so it was unremarkable that I was once again taking more pictures inside her establishment. The waitresses were tallying up their tickets and counting their tips and catching their final meals before heading home.

And then, like a miracle, the horse appeared, and I was ready. Completely unplanned, but there it was. We probably gasped, and said a few disbelieving "Nooooh"s. And as if to give me even more time, the horse balked as it started to pass, so the rider had to turn it back out of view before insisting that it proceed back to the south past our window. I snapped her riding away, thinking that would be as good a view as would be coming. But as she came back around, I tracked her progress with my viewfinder, saw her appear in the targeted window, and pressed the shutter button.

"I got it," I said. "I think I got it."

I never know for sure with any of my pictures if they turned out well on the spot, because I can't really make out the quality of the focus on the tiny screen on the camera. So the true test would be how it would look on my computer screen. I paid my tab, and hurried home.

The problem with pictures that are imagined is they usually can't be created by an amateur like me. The contrasting light between the outdoors and the indoors leaves you sacrificing one for the other, or compromising both. I could see that I got the shot, but realized the horse and rider didn't loom quite as large as I thought they would, and the signs and back window reflections interfered more than I anticipated, and the background was all overexposed. But when I looked at the photo before me, I adored it. Not for what was outside, but for what I wasn't even paying attention to on the inside. Not only had they cheered me on, but some of the staff were right there in my picture frame! Completely absorbed in the culmination of my quest, I was oblivious as they looked on in wonder, knowing how much I had wanted that moment! Their faces tell the story. That's why I love this shot.



Hi, my name's Elaine, and I'm a City Daily Photo Blogger. This is my town.

25 comments:

Dina said...

Your post's surprise ending brought me a tear or two. Becoming city daily photo bloggers seems to be doing good things to us all.
Oh and I love the horse too.
Mazal tov!

Laurie said...

Yippeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This post makes me happy in so many different ways. It so well represents the City Daily Photo experience that we all share. I LOVE this image. And I love your beautiful writing, too, my friend.

Penny said...

Hurrah!

A manifestation of the window you didn't know you'd left open :)

Isadora said...

No wonder it was a thrill, that is an accomplishment and congratulations. :) You are a fellow Aquarius, so I understand.

Bibi said...

I love to hear the stories behind the photos. I think yours is great, and as you say, the faces retell the tale!

Bibi said...

Hey! I'm an Aquarius, too!

Hilda said...

Hooray! I'm laughing and clapping and crying all at the same time…

Beautiful.

Marylène said...

Bravo !!
First I didn't understand why there was no picture at the beginning of your post !
Great, the story inside the story, the picutre inside the picture,
Un Grand Moment, thank you !

Knoxville Girl said...

and YOU are FABulous!
The photo made me laugh,and the story made me cry (in a good way)
thanks for sharing your town with us, Elaine.

Wayne said...

Only in Hicksville Elaine.

For any number of reasons this could not happen in Vancouver.

A really fun post.

Joe Cottonwood said...

Love the story. Love the photo. Love your little town.

Kelly said...

This was just darned funny! I loved the shots of the staff inside! Perfect!

You tell a story so, so well!

USelaine said...

I'm glad you all had the patience to read this, and understand. Thank you for your kind words.

It's one of those little things that became this big "thing", and we all had many laughs over it before this capture. As I was leaving that day, The Boss said with a little sadness that the horse going by (and it will go by) won't bring quite the same tickle anymore. It's the end of an era in Ardella's lore. But I am still her unofficial "food pornographer", so we'll have to see what I can do with that...

Isadora, maybe it was a bit of Aquarian Quest to Save The World, writ small. 6^) I certainly feel the Aquarian love for the good people of this town. The bad ones, not so much. 8^)

Thanks again, everyone!

Petrea said...

As I read the story I scrolled slowly, knowing you were building something and not wanting to see the picture you were saving for me. What great writing.

When the picture came I burst into happy laughter! Oh joy! It couldn't be better!

You can still quest for the horse picture. Now you have a picture of the quest, in a way, and of (some of) those who cheer you on.

valeria said...

Enjoyed this post sooooo much! I laughed seeing the photo...

USelaine said...

Petrea - Well, I don't think I can do any better, just as you say. My post about the quest was the first one, linked in the text, where I photographed this horse from everywhere except from inside Ardella's. The moment can't be topped, so it's time to move on to all the other horses in town, and in the valley. That should be fun too. 8^)

Valeria - Thanks!

And to everyone, again, it was a joyous experience for me, and I'm delighted to be able to share it with you.

Jana said...

Love it! What a great photo! It was fun reading the background into the photo!

Halcyon said...

Who says dreams don't come true?? :)

I love the photo too. You have really captured a moment here with the employees, the horse, all of it. I love reading and see all the little quirky things that happen in Willits. Congratulations on getting the shot!

Virginia said...

Hot damn! You did get it E, and it's just grand. Love the whole story too. thanks for sharing that with us. That made it even more special.

Petrea said...

I came to look at this again. The horse and rider are beautiful, soft, faded dreams. The foreground people are real. I love this.

Chuck Pefley said...

Great story, Elaine. There are so many different stories within this one frame. The whole is truly greater than the sum of the parts. True, adjustments could be made, but hindsight is always perfect. The fact is you were able to respond and capture one unique version of your vision. The horse is perhaps more powerful because it is not the center of attention, but simply one element ... and almost a ghost at that.

Well done!

jill said...

Oh Elaine, I am so glad for you. What an awesome moment. And to see the joy shared on those faces is extra special.

Ben said...

Good on you! Not bad in the lighting wise, I guess your flash was fired. I love the expression of people looking at you, as well as horse, of course.

Anonymous said...

I walked in to one of my favorite places to eat the other day and a waitress came to me and said, "Hey, you're in the photo with the woman on the horse!"

How fun...I'm the guy in the photo (that probably just finished another great meal)admiring the moment. How cool is that for someone to walk their horse down the street?

I really love the photo too...perfect framing by the window frames, great composition, depth...it has an element of surprise, stillness and movement. Thanks for sharing!

USelaine said...

Thank you for coming by to comment, Anon. Your contribution to the shot was essential, to contrast with the waitresses looking at me instead of the spectacle outside. And your smile added to the fun!