Wednesday, August 24, 2011

2011 12x12 Vancouver Photo Marathon - play by play (Part 3/3)

If long drawn out reading isn't your thing, you'll want to just read my general overview of the 2011 12x12 Vancouver Photo Marathon rather than continue on here ;)

Start from the beginning  Play-by-play Part 1
Theme 9
The long walk back started to worry me as I might not make the 6pm surprise that we were all promised.  Darting up through the West End neighborhoods rather than staying on the increasingly crowded main thoroughfares got me back just in time and gave me an opportunity to see what the residential part of downtown looked like.  Maybe I was missing stellar opportunities back here.  It was certainly eye-opening as I don’t venture through that part of Vancouver much beyond the occasional foray for parking.  I never imagined apartment living in the downtown core to be my cup of tea, but strolling through the neighborhood makes you understand how it’s different from big cities like New York.
I digress.

A somewhat suggestive eating contest and subsequent group photo lead to the next theme:  Take it to the grave.  Wowzers.
My brain was blank.  I needed to rehydrate.  Purchased a drink, sat down and started thinking.  Secrets… Material objects, how could I create an object to take to the next life?  A Chinese funeral store would be great at this point as there is a belief that if you burn mockups of items from this world, your loved ones in the next one receive it for use.  Problem being 1) My car is no longer easily accessible and 2) I had no idea where to find such a store.
I decided on a pretty obvious interpretation of the theme and wandered around to gather the necessary supplies.  I purchased a lighter, discovered I didn’t have a pen, returned to HQ to get a pen and prepped my message.  Now came the hard part.  Where to take the photo?  There was a small element of ‘danger’ at worst and misunderstanding at best.  I walked around the corner from Urban Rush Café and found a small corner, not entirely secluded but not that busy either.
I wrote a message on a piece of paper and intended to take a close up of it as it burned, hence the lighter.  Simple and straightforward, it would do.
I lined up the shot, I was able to hold the paper just in focus and reach around to light it.  I started the delay timer for this shot and as I reached around to focus and light the paper, I heard someone behind me say “What’s in the corner?  What’s he taking a picture of?”  which distracted me just enough to delay lighting of the paper and *click*, it was done.  The lighter may have been JUST in frame, but not enough of it to get the point across.  Ah well, that’s why this contest is done on film.
I turned to see an early 40ish couple walking by, asking me what I was doing out of curiosity rather than suspicion.  I explained what was going on and they were intrigued, yet did not realize the effect they had on the picture.  I can't blame them for their curiosity.
Theme 10
Feet sore, evening sun beating down and growing crowds, I headed back to HQ for some rest.  It's all a blur now but I'm pretty certain I decided to get some dinner just as the next theme was announced: Second Chance… I certainly wanted a second chance for the last photo and maybe re-do of some of my previous ones =P
The marathoners set off once again and I sat down in an empty café to ponder the theme.  Ideas were coming sluggishly now.  Stereotypical images materialized through the haze, boyfriends apologizing to girlfriends (there would certainly be plenty of potential models at the beach), apologetic looking pets, what else…?  I finished my food and wandered around again to gain some much needed inspiration.  I found a photo that was a bit of a cop-out.  Hmm… framed it up, was about to click and then stopped.  I can find better.

I came upon an older home that was undergoing a refresh which was almost complete.  I stood for a minute looking to see what I could come up with.  I couldn't make it work and walked away to continue my search as a security guard eyed me up and down.
During my wandering earlier, I had noticed police were deploying to manage the crowds gathering for the fireworks finale later that night.  *lightbulb* I wanted a photo of handcuffed wrists being released!!!  I went in search of some police officers that would be willing to help.
Somehow from the moment I thought of the photo to when I stopped looking, I didn’t find a single officer who didn’t look pre-occupied with important work.  Probably 15-20 minutes passed.  I had time to spare but I succumbed to fatigue and plodded back to my cop-out photo (how ironic), click.  Of course, on the walk back to HQ I would not only find one police officer on patrol, but 8-10 of them.  I’m sure one would have taken a minute to help me with my photo… the Second Chance theme stabbed my brain relentlessly.
Theme 11
Mourning over what could have been, theme 11 was presented: Not for sale.  Living in Vancouver, the first thing that came to mind was nature, the beauty at the beach, sunset.  Real estate IS for sale but just not reachable for many… I sauntered out to see what else I could come up with.  Saw a fellow marathoner composing a beach sunset shot, the crowds now jockeying for the little space that remained.  Nature kept ringing through my head, how to take a picture of nature that is more creative?
I came upon a community garden and thought, “this might work”.  Started to frame and size up what was available to me.  Nothing seemed to work, there was fencing all around the garden limiting my options and the lack of a zoom finally caught up with me.  After a few minutes of evaluating my options I decided to move on and as I did, something at the far end of the community garden caught my eye.
It wasn’t perfect but the idea might get across, by this time every theme included "stretch".  Tried a few different angles and found one I was happy with.  *click* and then there was one to go.
Theme 12
I had seen a post about 12x12 some time ago about marathoners “Chasing the light”.  For the last theme, we definitely would, as the sun dipped below the horizon, creating the dark canvas on which the Celebration of Light would paint to the anticipation of the now buzzing crowds.
Marathoners gathered for the last time, in anticipation, in relief and in excitement that they had come this far and the end was in sight!
The final theme was picked from the box, slipped out of the film tube and unfurled for all marathoners to see:  Expectation
I think the same image shot through everybody’s minds at that moment as marathoners flowed out of Urban Rush Café as one for the last time that day, melting into the now continuous flow of people arriving to see the fireworks.  Children getting treats, people in line-ups, the crowds waiting for the fireworks.  I will bet my not so valuable camera that these are the pictures you will see at the exhibition on Sept 25 =)
As I stepped out and turned down the street in search of one of these photos, let’s be honest, the end was in grasp and we wanted to finish, I saw three marathoners surround a little girl in the street receiving a glowstick.  Flash, flash, flash.  Three marathoners were done their mission for the day as I thought, maybe it would have been a good idea to pack a flash after all.
A line of police officers across Denman, making sure the crowds were orderly.  Expectation or anticipation?  More the latter, than the former but I felt the photo would work.  Right next to us was a father with his two small sons in strollers.  They were really cute and the initial image that popped into my head again slipped away from me on the slipperly slope of fatigue.  Some extra urging from company I would later watch the fireworks with pushed me over the edge and *click*.  I was done.
The moment the shutter closed on this picture, I knew I had unfinished business yet again.  Theme 12 will come out blurry... I'm an amateur but I fully know that shooting 1/4 sec handheld, doesn't a sharp picture make.
I still felt relief and accomplishment that it was over, however, the seed had been planted.  Planted under the mattress like the princess and the pea.  I will toss and turn until Sep 25, where suddenly the pea will grow until a baseball sized lump as I anticipate 12x12 2012.

Thank you again to the 12x12 organizers, volunteers and sponsors!  Without your hard work and support, this epic event would never have come to fruition and we would never know what we were missing!

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