Friday, October 27, 2006

Night Photography With a Twist

Last night I head out to take some pictures and I end up in the heart of a run down looking town. There are some cool old buildings, orange streetlamps, and back alleys, all of it perfect for a photo op.

I park on the side of the road and take a look around for a second before getting out. This place is abandoned. I haven't seen another car for ten minutes which raises my patented Dange'O'Meter to caution, but not high enough to get back in the car and leave.

As I'm standing out in the cold gathering up my camera gear this couple walks by and asks for a smoke. Unfortunately for them, I don't smoke, and apologize for my lack of tubularized tobacco. So while we're talking I give them the once over.

The woman's wearing Levi's with several holes in them not put there by the fashion industry and carrying a white crocheted blanket trying to keep warm. She's about 24 years old, looks a little like Morgan Webb from Xplay, but you can tell she hasn't lived the good life.

The guy's also wearing worn jeans and a dark blue hoody with holes in it. He appears to be a year or two older than her. Both of them are a long walk away from better times, so I feel sympathy for them.

They walk off looking for better cigarette hunting grounds and I start taking pictures. While clicking the shutter, I'm thinking that I should have given them some money, but I get distracted when the fuzz pull out of a back alley and stop to watch me as I stand in the center of the road to grab a shot. I don't think standing in the middle of the road is illegal, but you never know.

You would think police presence would drop the dial on the Dange'O'Meter but it has the opposite effect and clicks up to paranoid. It starts me thinking that if the authorities have to be around to keep the peace maybe this place wasn't so peaceful at one in the morning.

About this time, the couple comes wandering back down the sidewalk, and my conscience kicks in. I ask if they found a smoke. They had. We start talking a little about how times are hard and about photography, the whole time the cops are parked down the street watching.

I ask them if they need some money and they both protest, but their eyes are saying they haven't eaten anything but Ramen noodles in a long time, so I hand them a twenty hoping the long arm of the law isn't thinking they just got lucky and witnessed a drug deal. The couple thank me, and I say no problem. I've been in bad spots myself and know how some extra cash can make a difference.

About this time a tough guy comes out of a stairway from an apartment above a store right behind us. I notice the police are no longer lurking about, and the Dange'O'Meter is telling me it's time to pack it in.

So I put away my gear and say goodbye to the couple and drive home, grateful to get out of there before anything serious could go down and hoping the photos will turn out.

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