Coffee Versus Light

After three days wrestling with a flu, I slept in until 6:00 am this morning. I had spent most of the previous two days sleeping, which is how I typically deal with influenza. It works for me. I felt thirty percent better than I had for a couple days, but I had an overwhelming urge for a cup of coffee.

I don’t keep a coffee pot in the house, for a number of reasons. 1. If I have a machine nearby I’ll drink coffee constantly. I can’t seem to be immoderate about it, so it pushes me off the middle path. 2. If I drink a lot of coffee, I’ll spend a great deal of time in the bathroom due to the diuretic effect. Spending unnecessary time urinating is just a waste of time, and I’d much rather waste time in some other manner. 3. Since there isn’t enough counter space in our kitchen to accommodate a coffee machine, I will house a machine on the credenza in the office, and I’m a messy barista. I can’t stand the mess, but I seem unable to deal with a coffee machine without scattering unbrewed grounds in a three-foot radius around the machine. I love the taste of coffee, but I don’t seem to need the caffeine, so a few years ago I solved the dilemma by throwing away the machine. Since then I’ve simply made the one-mile trip to the local 7-11 convenience store at an average of once a week.

My mission this morning was to indulge myself with an extra large cup of java, so when I noticed the near-perfect light streaming through the tops of the Shamel Ash trees as I walked to the car, I was torn between coffee and light. For about a half-second. Though I knew I’d probably regret it later, coffee won out, and I violated my number 1 photography rule: Make the photograph when you see it.

Here’s my excuse: My brain was still slightly befogged from the flu. A flu makes me feel like I have a cranium full of shredded brown paper. That’s the way my brain works under the influence of influenza virus. Poorly. At 1/3 speed. But despite the excuse, I had violated my first rule of photography. It was still only an excuse. I gave myself a mental beating for the duration of the ten minute trip to the 7-11 and back, then grabbed the camera and stepped outside to shoot while the coffee sat in a heat-retaining container on my desk.

I like the Shamel Ash trees planted along my street in the mid-1950s and constantly watch the way that the light is passing through them. I shoot them considerably more frequently than I actually use the images in an article.

Through my reading on photography sites, I’ve become aware that there is a widespread bias in photographic circles against photos of trees. The bias is similar to the dislike of floral photography, though not nearly as strong. I run into the floral bias frequently, but I don’t really understand it, because I like to look at beautiful things. I find beautiful things…..well, beautiful….which is why I like to watch films starring Lauren Bacall, Veronica Lake, Katherine Heigl, Kate Beckinsale, and Scarlett Johanson, among other beautiful women. I also like looking at landscapes that feature trees as central subjects. And (gasp!) I also like to view floral photography, particularly when it is done well, as is typically the case with the photography of Michelle Alzola.

But back to the point, or one of my points. When I returned home after violating my first rule, I captured this image before returing to the office to indulge myself with coffee. The sun was still less than ten degrees above the eastern horizon. I still had the golden light. Sometimes luck holds, even when I violate a rule.

Other personal rules include avoiding the (quite common) overuse of colons and parenthesis. I’ve violated both of those rules in this article. I’m still waiting to see the results of those violations…