My first DSLR was new, a Rebel XT with a Sigma 30mm 1:1.4 lens. I didn’t know much about how to operate it, but the instructor for the small group I was in, Kathy Eyster, made short work of that situation. I could make a list of the essential things I learned that week; I wasn’t the same photographer – not even the same person – when we said our final goodbyes and headed for home.
During the critique for our first assignment Kathy found something to commend about the work each of us had done. One admonition, however, was delivered universally that afternoon. “Watch your edges.” We learned, all of us at once, that it isn’t enough to know your subject and to get it in the frame. Noticing what else is in the frame, especially the extraneous detail lurking along the edges, was a trait Kathy wanted us to make our own as soon as possible.
I have thought about that April week in 2006 a lot over the past three days. Wishing I were involved in some photographic pursuit, I have been engaged in yard work, and our edges? Well, they’ve become a mess!
We moved in last August, the former owner kindly having had the yard done just before the closing. In September the development set about to repave our street. Then the fall and winter came. When we began tending the yard with the arrival of spring -- with the exception of the concrete drive way and sidewalks, Tal and I did not mind the edges.
As I planned this week, I boldly added this item to my list: edge the street. Tuesday was to be the day. I gathered my tools. A mechanical, hand-operated edger. A long, double-spiked tool just like the one my dad used to get weeds out of the lawn. A pair of gloves.
My estimate of the time involved was a morning or an afternoon. Is that cosmic laughter I hear? Bermuda grass is strong, strong enough, I’ve learned, to break up asphalt in less than one growing season. Tuesday in the late afternoon a neighbor, having notices my sweaty struggle, had mercy on me and arrived with her electric Black & Decker edger. When I resumed work on Wednesday morning I was able to make myself a good, clean line. But, it was up to me to tear out the grass on the street side of that line.
It’s Thursday afternoon now; I finished just before noon. After a shower, a nap, some lunch, the only question I have now is whether to wash or to burn the gardening clothes I wore and kept wearing as I tended that long edge.
I fully intend to take better care after all this. It’s like Kathy said. Photography software oftentimes makes it possible to fix what went unnoticed in the field and intrudes into an image. But, it’s lots easier to get it right in the camera.
Same goes for that yard out there.