Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Center of the World

Every visitor to the royal observatory in London is required by law to take a picture of themselves standing astride the prime meridian. When you go, I suggest that you go early so you can avoid the packs of Japanese tourists (all dressed in business attire) who all want to stand in the identical pose with the identical expression of complete disinterest as their pictures are stepped with identical digital cameras.

Even though it is apparently a mandate that everyone have the "Straddling the Line shot," I wanted mine to be a little more creative. The shadowed line you see running vertically throughout the center of the picture (it passes just to my left) is the prime meridian etched in the window of the observatory. This line continues in stainless steel and neon to the sundial you see behind me and thence (presumably) all the way to the north pole.
At the Prime Meridian

The only other person I say even making an attempt at originality was a woman from an eastern locale. (At a guess I would pick Sri Lanka or somewhere near there. Her accent was similar to that of a coworker of mine who is from there.) I watched in interest as she tried to get her shot un-staged) with the tourists who were taking the "Astride the Line" shots.

After a bit of a frustrating time with several near misses, she just went and conscripted a couple strangers, (I know they were strangers because the groups that the conscripts were from looked on with something like mingled suspicion and interest) put them where she needed them, and took her shot. It was great! I was tempted to imitate it for myself but decided that I would never knowingly steal someone else' idea so I will just have to describe it to you.

She crouched on the line and took her shot from behind and through the spread legs of a person straddling the line as the second conscript crouched on the line taking a shot of the person's feet. The composure was in portrait. The finished shot showed the line, centered in the bottom disappearing under the photographer who was backed by the general hubbub of the area with the sundial rising behind her all framed in the acute triangle created by the subject's legs. It was really quite good when I saw it I liked it.

It was a lovely day for visiting the park. I think, however, that my best find may be a leaf. I am not sure what made it catch my attention, but on the way out of the park there was this one nearly perfect oak leaf that had fallen. Its veins were just turning yellow and the way it was laying against the gray of the walk pulled my focus. After taking a shot of it in situ, I moved it to the grass to get a couple other shots. I was pleased with the way it turned out. Take a look for yourself at the link above.

There also you will find a picture that I snapped of a guy who was apparently also happy to be in the park today. He was doing handstands on the lawn so I snapped a shot of him. On my way out of the park, two things happened of note. The first was a chance to be able to make spontaneous humor. The second was not funny.

Walking away from the observatory, the woman directly in front of me was telling her compatriot how she liked to intentionally get in front of people and stop when she saw that they had cameras. About ten steps later she bent down to adjust her shoe strap, realized she was in the middle of the traffic and offered a sheepish apology. I assured her that I had more-or-less just assumed that she had done it because I had a camera. There was a smattering of chuckles, she started to blush, and then we all returned to our mutual anonymity.

The second thing was decidedly not pleasant and has colored the rest of my afternoon. A little girl, playing with her brother (some kind of game that involved them running around about a central point, hands joined and then walking away in random directions), vomited on me. Nice, eh? Did she, her brother or her watching parents as much as offer an apology? No! The mother called-out to her daughter "Penelope, come away from that man!" Uh-huh.

But I guess that this had good and bad points to it as well. On the bad point, I reeked until I got back to the hotel and had a shower. (My clothing is currently soaking in the tub!) On the good side, even if people did cast disparaging glances my way on the way home, I got a seat to myself on the tube and on the train back to Hampton Court.

Well, I guess that is it for now. I'm off to the pub for dinner and then to bed early tonight.

I hope your day was pleasant and vomit free where-ever your day was!

Don Bergquist - 06-August-2005 - Hampton Court, United kingdom

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