The old way
A long time ago, I studied photography. I used a manual SLR camera, took light measurements (incident and reflected), applied filters, adjusted focus, aperture and exposure, developed my own negatives, mixed my own chemicals, did my own darkroom work and, occasionally, achieved some pretty creditable results, none of which appear on this page.
I did all this because I wanted to be in complete control of the image, from inception to display. But recently, because of my traveling lifestyle, my photography is reduced to quick snapshots with a mobile phone - low quality, granular, soft, flared, shaded, blurred - but fun and immediate. And you know, I'm thoroughly enjoying it. But there's a special class of picture for which the mobile phone is second to none - the complete accident!
The phone rings, you fumble it out of your pocket, press a couple of keys by mistake, and click - another random picture for the archives! This one could almost be a wounded Dalek, its infamous sink-plunger attachment sadly limp. Or maybe Davros has put it on floor-sweeping duties as a punishment for failing to exterminate the Doctor, yet again. Or it could just have fallen downstairs of course. The Daleks would hate Lisbon. Stairs everywhere. They'd be completely scuppered. Rome isn't much better. The Spanish Steps. Daleks top and bottom and the girls would still be selling flowers on every tread. The human spirit triumphs over technology again.
Sometimes, body parts feature. Here is the right knee, mine, and seated, if knees can sit. With a crease that wouldn't shame Beau Brummell. But what about the other leg? Not mine. The turned table-leg, emerging from, or perhaps disappearing into, the Stygian gloom. Its machine-cut concentric rings flashing wan highlights through the knee-lit murk.
- o -
When they come, they will not be green. They will not speak with human tongues. They will know you. They will know you. They will know you. And then you'll say - is someone there? Your voice is all the sound you'll hear. And still they know you, know you, know you.
- o -
Though you bind me, even to my face, I will break free. For through the tightening shroud, will there come no light? I am no wrapped parcel for your friends' amusement. Are their teeth as white as mine? From the strained peak shall spread cracks. As Prometheus, as Samson, even as the Phoenix, I shall rise again, and sing of things untold.
That third picture in the set of three - the one I called 'the peak' - has me completely baffled. I have absolutely no idea what the phone camera was seeing. That's the joy of accidental photography.
After so much surrealism, let's close with something less outlandish. This accidental phone-snap has four people in it, one relaxing, three going about their business. The guy mostly hidden by the chair he's sitting in is Croatian. The walking girl in blue is Filipina. The man in the distance is Syrian, and the one standing with clasped hands is Tunisian. And that's one of the things I love about the Middle East - a genuinely random accidental photograph catches four different nationalities in one place. It's a privilege to live and work here among people from all over the World.
I hope that, after reading this, you might look again at some of your own happen-stance pics, before automatically going for the delete key. You too might have some hidden gems, or even the seeds of a flight of fancy. Thanks for reading my nonsense. Click, click!