A Short Reflection by a Past Regular
It’s funny how things change. When I was a teenager, in the era of muscle cars, I might have retitled this article “My 350 Corvette.” I was into cars in those days. Now, I’m into cameras and lenses. I inherited the camera bug from my father who had a Leica camera and was always taking pictures. Out today, using my Used Sony 55-210 lens right after buying it down the street at Gary’s used photography store. I was sitting at one of those always-shaky little wooden tables they’ve had forever at Staufs. A guy sitting next to me who looked to be studying for some exam. Probably at nearby OSU. Next to him, a young girl was lost in her headphones on and MacBook Pro.
I screw my recently purchased used lens onto my Sony 6400 camera. I prop the lens up on the table, lifting the camera upwards resting on my wallet to hold the shot steady. People walk by as I focus on the tea pot maybe thirty feet away. I pulled in closer and closer on a tea making machine. the larger range of the lens of some tea making machinery. The image captures the symbol of the modern, new Staufs in my mind. It is amazing the image was even obtained, with all the people constantly passing between teh camera and the tea p the used lense, people passing in front all the time, with no tripode, was above to get this particular shot. Like my changes through life, this above scene seems to represent the “new” Stauf’s Coffee shop in Grandview, Ohio. I know it well for I spent many hours there over the years. The years I went there it was all coffee so the tea selling of Staufs symbolizes a new era for the place to me.
Somehow, I think I was able (allowed) to capture this for one moment in time. Maybe 30 seconds after I just put the used 210 mm lens on my camera. I bought it because it was the least expensive of the Sony telephoto lens and had 294 five star ratings from B&H Photo in New York City I buy many items from. Since getting back into photography maybe fifteen years ago, I had worked with various techniques but it was High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography that continued to fascinate me. I bought one of the first software programs able to combine various (bracketed) photos into one file and allow manipulation of this file similar to Photoshop. The software was and still is the brilliant and updated version of this HDR pioneer Photomatix Pro 6 (as of 5/5/22 … Cinco de Mayo!).
Two symbols seem engaged in some type of battle in looking at this image I captured. On the left, the feminine symbol of organic earth in the form of the brick. And, on the right, the masculine symbol of metal and materials derived not directly from the earth. Like bricks were. The bricks on the left side of the photo possess a magic, golden, color to them. The golden brinks get get brighter as they travel right and then disappear abruptly behind a vertical piece of metal. The bluish metal contrasted against the golden bricks in the image. The red tea straining cup on top of the pot serves as a type of exclamation mark to the abrupt confrontation between the colors, the materials, hoizontality and verticality. I captured the photo using 5 bracketed photos on the Sony with the new used 210 mm from Garys I just bought. It was such an amaazing deal. I always checked with Gary first.
Gary and I both discussed HDR photography maybe fifteen years ago when he worked at the biggest photography chain in the city. It was such a magic thing it seemed to me. I found out all about it and got him interested in it by stopping by the big photography store and showing him some of the iamges I was able to get using this new HDR method. Five, automatically, quickly taken. It is imperative the camera and the subject are completely motionless.
The colors above come from the intermixture of five differernt images of the pattern (symbols) aimed at. With the new lens, just on the camera for thirty seconds. Between people passing in the thirty feet from the image captured. But then, perhaps nothing that particular day, at that particular time, could prevent me from capturing the above image at my old coffee shop for so long. The coffee was as wonderful as ever. It was good to be back.
Looking at the image, now, rather than considering all of this when the image was captured. So much to be seen (revealed?) in this image.
The golden color of earth comes from the organic product of a brick that occupies the perhaps three-fourths the frame. The light that lights up the bricks increased in intensity fut then is suddenly cut off by the stark, shiny bluish, metalic machine. One could see this warm orange color in the image as perhaps a symbol of organic, nature. It abruptly confronts a type of metal machine. One might assume it is some type of tea-brewing machine since it is next to the two pots in the image.
A rather dreary day outside, coming it through the large windows allowing into Stauf’s, another filtered overcast day in the general Columbus, Ohio area. The city has had more overcast days than I’ve ever experienece since I lived here over the years. (But that makes for a whole other story for another time). While this light is difficult to shoot in, sometimes it is a blessing as the overcast day acts as one’s great light filter. Here, this light is perfect to give the image such a warm effect, and a lighting that constantly seems to baffle observers. Just where is the light coming from? And what is its source. It seems that this confusion caused (subliminally) within the observer of the image from the new Sony 210 above and reader of these words.
I’m amazed at what the telephoto lens has allowed me to capture over the years. It’s funny but most professional photographers define the major use of telephoto lenses as either sports or animal photography, or, close ups of people or animals. But I see more use for telephoto lenses such as focusing on elements within the larger scene. In effect, they allow greater freedom of exploration within scenes at the time the image is captured rather than afterwards via cropping in the editing process.
The ability to focus on an aspect of a scene is evidenced in the “later shots” taken soon after the image of the bricks and the tea machine. In some ways, they seem parts of the first photo, perhaps adding things to it rather than completely standing alone. For instance, the pieces of all shipping bags that are framed speak of the international sourcing of the coffee and tea products of Staufs. And, outside after leaving Staufs, there is the title of a popular movie today playing at the Grandview Theater right next to Staufs. The title above of the movie, “Everything, Everywhere All at Once” seems to offer a type of caption to the overall scenes today, of what my telephoto lens has to work with. The telephoto shot of the porch of a home across from the Grandview Theater offered an interesting shot in that it is ambiguous what’s the aqua and yellow device. The two holes in it could be eyes watching everything.
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Here, a perfect example of this. A scene that would never have been captured using a standard lens like a 16mm or 24 mm which would have captured the entire inside of Stauf’s coffee shop. The Sony 6400 was converting me over to interchangeable lense type person rather than one giant telephoto lens built into the camera. The above combination of the 6400 camera and 210 lens seems special to me. An image I captured through using the real strength of this lens. In a very effective light with a lens that can certainly capture this light in a pretty spectacular way. So much more in the world of telephoto lenses to capture. To focus on.
Perhaps there is a grand divide between those who use interchangeable lenses and those who use one large telephoto zoom lense so one can instantly select parts of a scene. In effect, there are those who see the scenes of life through the particular “lens” they bring to these scenes. If they bring a wide angel lens, they put their perspective in the place of more an objective, omnipotent 3rd person narrator. It they bring a strong telephoto lens to the scene, they put their perspective more in the place of a subjective, 1st person observer. A lens that can go from a wide angle to telephoto zoom (like the Sony 55-210) allows one to observe the overall scene or zoom in closer and become part of the scene.
(John is the author of many articles, essays and books amoung them the 1990 biography of John Coltrane called Spirit Catcher the 2003 book on symbols and symbolism called Battle of Symbols.)