The View Up Here

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Sometimes It’s Not Photogenic

Posted by Tom Benedict on 02/09/2013

I tried. I really did. I went out to do KAP in some of the worst wind possible, and mostly I failed.

My real subject was a set of dilapidated buildings either in serious need of some demolition work, or in serious need of photography. Hey! I don’t do demolition, but I do photography! Perfect!

When I reached the site, though, I found the building surrounded by a truly evil set of power lines and trees, not to mention a barbed wire fence with a very big, very obvious sign saying no trespassing. Rather than risk kite, rig, camera, and my own non-shock-resistant self, I gave it a miss.

My backup subject was this tiny stunted tree I saw out in the lava as I drove to the real subject. I drove back to it, stopped the car, and put a kite in the air.

Here’s the problem with doing photography of any sort: Sometimes the subject really isn’t photogenic, no matter how hard you wish it to be. I photographed the bejeebers out of that tree as well as a second tree I found while walking around. None of them worked out. I wanted the pictures to make the trees look hardy. Adventurous, even. What they looked like was pathetic. I mean, let’s face it. These trees are staying alive by turning lava rock into soil faster than they can consume the nutrients in it. It’s not a glamorous lifestyle.

So instead I took pictures of one that failed utterly. It’s a stick:


On closer inspection, I think it’s burned. I don’t know if that dates from the time of the lava flow, or if someone tried to use it as part of a camp fire. It doesn’t matter. It wound up being about a hundred times more photogenic than the trees that were still living. Go figure.

While I was doing this, a tour bus pulled up and tourists hopped out. I’ve seen them do this as I drive by in the evenings, but I’ve never understood what they’re stopping for. It’s lava, folks. It looks like rock, only fresher. But now I saw what the real draw was. It’s either the dead plant the two in the foreground are looking at, or it’s whatever the other tourists are all photographing. Oh wait! That’s my kite. >sigh<


A little discouraged, I walked back to my car. “Hey!” I thought, “I should take a picture of my car from the air!” I did this the first year I started doing KAP, and as it so happens that first photograph was made less than half a mile from where I had parked this time. Cool!

KAP Mobile

Except that in hindsight, it probably wasn’t such a good idea. There are too many similarities between my Jeep and those poor crusty little trees. It’s just trying to eke out a living in the desolate landscape, and not succeeding all that well. The poor thing is in dire need of a wash. And some new brake pads. And new shocks. A tuneup wouldn’t hurt, either. And did I mention the wash?

I really did wish for my Jeep to be photogenic. Even more so than the trees. Didn’t work on either.


– Tom

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