Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Courthouse

Over the weekend I went to the courthouse to take some street photos for the book I'm working on.  I thought Sunday afternoon would be ideal, since the sun was bright and people would be at home doing whatever people do at home on Sunday afternoons. Downtown Mathews is usually desolate on Sunday afternoons.

So naturally the one time I needed a perfect photo of the public library (above), which used to be Farmers Bank of Mathews, there were several cars parked out front. And all of a sudden I noticed all the telephone poles and wires. Great big, ugly utility wires. This was not good.

Feeling a little frustrated but not yet defeated, I walked around the corner for a shot of Southwind (below), which at one time was a general store. The lighting was perfect! But once again a car was in the way just enough to muck up my picture.

I might still use this one, but, hello?  Wish the car weren't there.

All this time, whenever I contemplated the necessary tasks for the book (gathering old photographs, taking photos of the exact same scenes, and writing a paragraph for each pair of pictures--all 80 pairs), I always assumed that taking the current photographs was going to be the easiest part of the job. I take pictures around here all the time, it's a snap! To me the hard part was all the rest.

What I'm discovering--less than a week before my cover photographs are due and about two months before the entire book is due--is how much I underestimated the difficulty of taking a decent "now" shot of various buildings in the courthouse, thanks mostly to my need to take these pictures when there are no cars or pedestrians around.

(Oh, and also?  There's heavy construction going on at Hyco Corner and Ward's Corner making any "now" photos at those locations unsightly.  One scene requires me to take a shot of the sanitation plant; the "then" shot, before the plant, is priceless so I have to use that photo.  Is there any way to take a good picture of a sanitation plant? Also, did you know that there is no proper angle for a good shot of Hardees which is where a very cute and very photogenic Texaco station once stood? Honestly the courthouse area was far more charming back in the 1930s and '40s than it is today.)

This sudden realization caused a wave of panic to sweep over me, and beads of sweat formed on my forehead even though it was slightly chilly this particular day. 

(A similar wave of panic caused me to bolt upright in bed the other night at exactly 2:00 a.m. Hormones may be playing some role in all this sweating and all, but the book related stress isn't helping matters one bit.)

A couple of shots must be taken from the middle of the road to match the angle of the old photographs which shouldn't be a big deal early in the morning or on Sunday.

Except it actually is, at least when I've made such attempts.

The shot below is awful, plain and simple.  I will need to go back when the light is better and there are no cars coming at me.

So, after spending about an hour wandering around taking terrible pictures, I got pissed off became frustrated and spun out of there on two wheels...

I'm pretty sure my seventh grader could take a better shot. More utility wires anyone?

...and drove directly to Aaron's Beach, where absolutely no work was done on The Book Which Will Never Be Completed.

Ah.  Now all is right with the world.

The End.

p.s. I went back last night after 7:00 p.m. and had better luck, but still, this is going to be a very long, very difficult couple of months.


Anonymous said...

Hello, CBW...love the wkend photos, the fabulous crab hat really impressed me, and you have gorgeous parents and friends.
As for the utility wires in the town photos, I will suggest something I am not qualified to explain about(since my son knows how to do it but I have no clue)--get someone who knows about Photoshop to help you 'Shop out the wires. As in: touch up the photos for your book (?)
Sorry you feel under pressure re book deadlines. I am a fan of your blog and ITS photos, and hope someday they can be turned into a different book that will be more fun for you.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Hello, Anonymous, and thank you so much for reading. Crab hats are so much fun, I highly recommend them to everyone!

Excellent tip about Photoshop, however, my publisher has very strict requirements and one of them is nothing can be photoshopped or edited other than cropping (and honestly I don't even know how to do that so everything has to be perfect right out the camera).

I am sort of hoping the publisher takes care of that for me somehow or another. I am thinking perhaps someone on the editorial staff will have the ability to photoshop those wires out, but honestly I never noticed how intrusive they were until this week when I focused on these "downtown" pictures.

Thanks again for reading!

Maria_NJ said...

This suggestion may be way off base but...can you ask the local PD for help? Maybe they can put up a "No Parking " sign for like an hour or so, so that you can get some pictures? Might be worth a try, all they can say is no.

Wow 2 weeks before a deadline, you can do it. Your a strong one...

wv:uggles: I don't think the photos look as uggles as you think they do..OK may be the last one, but the one of the General store. Its good, and you only see the tail end bumper.

Ann Marie said...

because I love you and stuff... and because well one of us Vogel's need to know how to do these things.. please check your email!

Deltaville Jamie said...

While unsightly and annoying, the power lines are part of the "now" experience. I imagine there weren't so many wires back in the day... one more visual on how things have changed. As for stopping traffic, I'd wear your crab hat and stand in the middle of the road.

Mental P Mama said...

Those lines are decidedly NOW. Gah. Hugs. You can do it!

deborah said...

Sad, but the power lines are part of 'now'. I would contact the PD and ask them to clear the area for a few hours. I'm sure they will do it when they realize a famous author is asking!

Go girl go! I know you can do it, and your hard work is going to pay off!

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

I just can't wait to see this book!

Daryl said...

I think you need to stop stressing about cars and wires and ask Kate for help with Photoshop ... cars and wires will be gone! Ah see Anonymous has the same idea!

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

You are going to be so proud of yourself when this is done. Like all of us will!

Bethie said...

It will be all worth it in the end.

Country Girl said...

Hey, CBW. I know my way around photoshop a little bit, but it's difficult (for me, anyway) to shop out wires. The wires are what the place looks like, though and so are the cars. Fifty years from now, these vehicles will be vintage and they'll probably look pretty cool.

Do the photos HAVE to be taken by you and you only? Can AnnMarie help?

Oh, I just read what you wrote about your editor and PS rules. This makes sense. You see? The wires need to stay. They're part of the landscape. As are the vehicles.

I want to tell you not to stress. Just keep plodding along and taking your photos. If you happen to be driving by after you've already taken the one you want and you see there are no cars, then stop again. You can do this. Take some Rescue Remedy when you're feeling stressed!

Anonymous said...

I have been a huge fan of CBW for way over 30 years now. She might not admit it but I know her to be very gifted. CBW I believe in you ... so I expect a signed hand delivered copy of your book. I think there are several books inside you waiting to write ... have fun you got this girl!

Grandma J said...

You couldn't find a better place to unwind and collect your thoughts than Aaron's Beach.

Maybe try early Sunday Morning for pix.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Maria - I've considered that and if I'm unsuccessful in the coming weeks I will definitely go that route - thank you!

AM - You will likely be called upon to help me, and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your help.

To Anonymous - I appreciate your words, especially since you knew me back in the day--1982 to be exact. A hand-delivered, signed copy is no problem. However the next book will definitely be more me. Stay tuned.

To all of you, thank you for the tips and for believing in me. The support is truly appreciated.

Just thanks.