Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fields of Dreams

John and I love to take Boz for long walks in the (relatively) wild fields north of the Devil's Gate Dam, an area locally known as "JPL." (We don't actually walk the dog at the Jet Propulsion Lab. As much fun as the lab might be for us I don't think the scientists would appreciate the intrusion and I'm sure it would all be lost on Boz.)

Many people use the area, properly named Hahamongna Watershed Park. I often see horseback riders, runners, bikers and hikers, plus ground squirrels, lizards, rabbits and all kinds of birds I couldn't begin to name. But I hadn't seen a guitarist until the other day.

I'm usually shy about photographing people but this was an opportunity not to be missed, so I approached the man and asked if I could take his picture. He said, "Shoot away, have fun." He began to play and I began to shoot, and it was fun (though it was still lost on Boz). The al fresco musician's name is Ronnie Ray Fields; he practices in the park because he loves it there and dreams of getting better. I thought he sounded pretty good. John and I noticed he was being a good neighbor, too; his amplifier was turned down low and as we stepped away the sound faded quickly.

The experience was encouraging. Maybe I'll be bold enough to ask for a photo of a human again soon. Folks can always say no but they might say yes, and I might meet more interesting Pasadenyites like Ronnie Ray Fields.

28 comments:

Lily Hydrangea said...

Yes Petrea I know what you mean, I haven't asked anyone other than people I know. Most of the time I just snap without asking at an angle that obscures their identity. You have inspired me to be more bold, because if you hadn't we would have missed seeing this interesting shot!This is the perfect type of story to find for a daily photo site.
I like how you noticed he was a good neighbor too.

Snapper said...

That's a nice portrait. He's perfectly placed between the lightpost and the tree. And congrats for overcoming the anxiety of asking a stranger for a photo. Not easy to do!

Eki Akhwan said...

The man's action and the low angle from which you took this picture make a great visual impact, Petrea!

This is a good beginning for your street photography exploration. I began to feel comfortable about taking photos on the street (street photography) only recently. It's a great way about doing photography, I think.

Please check my posts on street photography on your blog walk sometime.

Thanks.

Laurie said...

Petrea, this is so great. I love that he's playing a flying V!

I have similar reservations. (That's why I want a good telephoto lens!!!!!)

Ineke said...

it's so funny to see an electrical cord in the middle of nowhere.

altadenahiker said...

I see you were smart enough to keep YOUR dog out of the picture...

Dina said...

That's a dramatic photo! Good for you, going after it.
Thanks for your comment. You know, the Jerusalem bloggers convention was disappointing. I'm still watching the webcast and wishing it would end. Bibi spoke for a LONG time. I am not one of the "Jewish bloggers." So many of them are right-wing Anglo religious people. I don't fit in.
As far as I know, my blog is quite unknown in my own country and that's fine.
Shalom to you in peaceful Pasadena.

Meead S. said...

You did a great job. Nice portrait!

USelaine said...

This really is a fun picture. He reminds me a little of that rollerskating guitarist at the Venice Beach promenade years ago. He was even in one of the first music videos - "Sunset Sam" by Michael Nesmith.

I also can't imagine having feet tough enough to go barefoot everywhere!

Bernie K. said...

Jeez, all's you have to do is walk forty-seven miles of barbed wire …

USelaine said...

Bernie, I'll keep that in mind the next time I want to go barefoot.

Bernie K. said...

… cut a rattlesnake fo' necktie …

… tum te tum te tum …

Petrea said...

I do the same thing, Lily. My husband reminds me: "People WANT to have their picture taken." And many do, I think, at least Ronnie did. But do they want it published on a blog?
("Good neighbor" was John's phrase. He lurks; I hereby acknowledge his regular, valuable input.)

Thank you, snapper. High praise, coming from you.

I like your street shots, Eki. I've noticed good use of black and white on your site lately, too.

Laurie, I love that you know it's a flying V. I had no idea. (Oh and I want a telephoto, too! It's the only thing on my wish list besides world peace and prosperity for all humankind!)

Ha ha, ineke, we were wondering how long his battery would last.

Altadenahiker, I COULD have used one with Boz's rear end in the shot but the light wasn't right...

Dina, "right wing" is not what I'd call you. I guess you could tell I didn't watch the video very long.

Thanks, Meead. Are you getting excited for your trip?

USElaine, I think that guy's still at the beach, but older and weirder now (you would be, too, after all these years). Feet: Ronnie only has to walk a few doors down; the photo was taken near the entrance to the park, off a residential street.

Petrea said...

By the way, everyone: Meead's post today is especially poignant, well-written and well-researched.

USelaine said...

Make no mistake about it - I am definitely older and weirder. Don't need Venice Beach for that.

Bernie K. said...

I once't knew a dog on whose nanky b*tt the light was ALWAYS right.

Christie said...

Very fun! I'm glad that people can enjoy his music and enjoy the walk as well!

Virginia said...

Petrea,
Great photo. I am with you . It's hard. Some of us CDP folks are doing a low key non official version of the 100 Strangers project. Sometimes you just need other folks to help you get going. Email me if you want to join us. Everyone is invited. Eki's tips are great as well!
I haven't done many but you do meet some nice folks just like your musician today.

Jim said...

I am glad he said yes. You couldnt stage a picture better than this one.

Bibi said...

Hi, Petrea. I'm sorry I haven't checked in for a while. Worse now, my husband has been hospitalized in a serious condition, so I can't browse blogs too much. We were to leave for the US Saturday; I'd taken the precaution to upload photos in advance... Pray.


Thanks for your comment on mine toda; photo taken from my son's apartment window.

Kelly said...

Excellent shot, Petrea! I hope you start doing more like this! I can tell he is having a great time, you caught him perfectly!

Saretta said...

Go, Ronnie, go! And you go too Petrea!

Petrea said...

You guys are too funny, and so encouraging. Thanks.

Bibi, thanks for letting me know about your husband. I left a message on your blog. I'm sorry you can't make the trip to Seattle but I know some things are more important.

Virginia, I may wait until I have more under my belt before I undertake a 100 strangers project! (Still too chicken.) But I've seen Steffe's project. If you haven't, check it out.

Dina said...

Your comment rooms are so much fun, Petrea. Glad to be here.

jill said...

Petrea, it has gotten a lot easier for me to ask by simply offering a business card I made up with a pretty picture and the name and address of my blog. I give a quick explanation of CDP--over 700 cities, I'm not a prophoto, etc. Most are willing to answer a few questions about themselves, and seem tickled to be 'published'.

Petrea said...

Thank you, Dina. That's because such nice people show up. :)

That's a good idea, Jill. I have a business card and I use it, which helps. Talking about the CDP bloggers, though, I hadn't thought of. Excellent suggestion.

Kim said...

Petrea,
Catching up on your images this morning. I'm thoroughly enjoying myself savoring your shots, text, and comments and then along comes THIS image and I'm thinking "what is this dude doing in the seeming wilderness with an electric ax?" Everything about the shot draws me in to notice every detail. REALLY remarkable, outstanding capture.

I'm glad you are taking the plunge past any uncomfortable feelings into more people shots. An SF Bay Area photowalker who goes by the Flickr pen name of "Thomas Hawk" has started a little project of his own, similar to the 100 portraits challenge Steffe is doing, only Thomas takes photos of street people who ask him for change. He calls his project $2 Portraits. When someone asks him for change he offers them $2 to take their portrait. If they say yes, he takes wonderful and interesting images of them. I think the approach might be helpful to shyer photographers to start working on their street shot "chops" in this way. I have a photographer friend who challenged herself to take just a 50mm lens out and ask strangers on the street if she could take their close-up portrait. She urged me to do it, so I took only my 50mm out one day and found that I'm much more comfortable behind a long lens from a distance, even though I'm a fairly "out there" person with no reservations about speaking to strangers. Maybe that's why I like doing candids. But heading this direction like you and Virginia, where there is a personal connection first is a way I'd like to try more, too.
I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this shot, though. My husband used to take his sax out at sunset and play to the SF Bay in the evenings off the frontage road in Berkeley. But this guy's playing electric. . .I love it!
-Kim

Petrea said...

Kim, I'm always honored when you can visit, and especially happy that you like the photo so much! Thank you for all the good ideas. I'm such a chicken, what I really want is a telephoto lens so I can just hide...
But getting out and meeting the people you photograph is more gratifying. I was emboldened by the experience.
Berkeley and SF have such a great street scene. Pasadena's is different, more divided. I'm learning to approach it and enter in.