Thursday, April 25, 2013

An irresistible smile on a Canadian autumn afternoon

  ...from a photographer's notebook

If you follow my work, you know that portraits of children are not at the top of my credit list. Ah, but sometimes circumstances conspire, and I actually enjoy the activity.

This is Rachel.

She is probably now a very comely young Canadian lass (I took the photo in 1999), with lots of beaux hoping for a coquettish smile. 

I encountered Rachel on a playground in Memorial Park in Chase, British Columbia. I’d stopped in Chase to stretch, on the long drive from Kamloops in central B.C. to my destination, Moraine Lake in the Rockies, on a trip planned to catch the changing autumn colors of the Lyall’s Larches in Larch Valley, high above the turquoise lake.

The South Thompson River runs through Chase, and the Canadian Pacific Railway runs along the South Thompson…and I heard some heavy diesels approaching. Need I say more? I mounted the 75-300 mm image stabilized lens on my trusty Canon EOS-1, ooched the ISO on the Fujichrome 100 I’d just loaded up to 400, and sallied forth to nail me some bright red CPR diesels in the trees across the river.

Then, I saw Rachel on the jungle gym, there in the park. I was absolutely charmed by her impish smile and her unaffected ease with the camera bedecked visitor. An irresistibly photogenic subject, she was playing under the watchful eye of her grandmother. After asking grandmother’s permission, I set about capturing Rachel on film. Well, really it was Rachel who made the photos – I just kept composing and pressing the button ;-)

Fearing the moment might be fleeting for turning from trains to little Rachel, I kept the "heavy artillery" in place. What really impressed and inspired me was Rachel's absolute unconcern at the big black somewhat noisy machine aimed at her at fairly close range, as I was using the lens at its shortest setting. An EOS-1 with a motor drive booster attached and a long zoom lens could be intimidating to some subjects - Didn't faze little Rachel one little bit ;-)

I do not recall Rachel saying very much as I clicked away. I think she just preferred to speak with her pretty blue eyes.

Well, the lab was careful, and the Fujichrome 100 performed most gracefully in being pushed two stops…and I must say, I loved the results of the photos little Rachel made for me.

Ten years later (as these things often play out), I rediscovered my Rachel moments, after finally purchasing my Nikon scanner, so I could integrate my film images into a digital workflow, and four years later still, I offer you Rachel’s impish grin.

Does this mean I need an assistant to file my images more efficiently? Aw, heck, Rachel’s smile is timeless. I hope you find it as contagious as I do.

©2013 Steve Ember

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