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February 15, 2012: My Friend Hattie Schmidtkunz

Okay. So I was stuck, stuck, stuck with this photography stuff. Couldn’t get a good image to save my life. I was in a bind, feeling very frustrated. So I made a photo shoot day with Hattie Schmidtkunz, who is good friend of mine.

I met Hattie when she was 11 – her mom Charlene Schmidtkunz, was then working at Moose Creek Ranch, cleaning horse pens for her Mom, Katie Long. Hattie was quiet, but laughed at my jokes—in this way seemed beyond her years.

I watched her grow up. We had this long and involved conversation about the nature of nothingness when she was 13 or so – she attempted to prove that there was nothingness, and I attempted to disprove of it. I think that she even wrote a paper on the subject, for her English class. It was then that I knew that she had what many lack:

intellectual curiosity.

We’ve kept in touch, via her parents. No surprise, Hattie has inherited her parent’s artistic sensibilities. She’s currently going to school at nearby Mat-Su College which is a two-year school, and is preparing to go on to a four-year school. She has a strong interest in art, biology, and literature. She’s taken a few photography classes and is adept with her camera. This is why I (in a panic) called upon her to give me a hand with my photography.

Interestingly enough, last spring I asked her to come over and take some pictures for our pre-trip slideshow. I then said to her that I’d decided to continue to focus on my writing, and just work with other photographers. I’m not sure what finally made me decide that I should make the foray into taking my own photos, but I’m doing it. At the very least, I am getting more appreciative of the photo taking ability of others. And, I’m having a good time.

Hattie does not ever talk at people. And she didn’t (in our day together) talk at me. She showed me a few things as we first had lunch at Vagabond Blues, and then did a photo shoot near the fairgrounds. I pummeled her with questions, which she answered in a comprehensible manner.

Her most insightful observation was that I should put the control knob on manual. I am embarrassed to say that I spent considerable time futzing around with it on the shutter and aperture priority settings. When I did this, the proverbial light bulbs began going off. It then came back to mind, what I knew about adjusting F-Stops and shutter speeds. And then, I figured out the exposure compensation setting. And then, I figured out the information option box. And then, I figured out how to adjust the automatic focus, pressing down on the shutter button. And then, I figured out how to change the ISO.

Hattie and I traipsed through the knee deep snow and took some photos at an old farm located near the fairgrounds. It was raining. She kept telling me that we were on an adventure, to which I replied that I always liked being on adventures. It’s true – I do. We scrunched ourselves under some pieces of roofing Plexiglas, in a falling apart greenhouse. I kept asking and Hattie kept answering my innumerable questions. We then went to the borough building, and I took a few photos of Hattie in that setting.

All this was just in the nick of time. Last night Pete and I looked at my images, and came up with the 25 that I will turn in tonight. They are not the best, but I can see a definite improvement. This morning, before he went to work, I took a few pictures of Pete—I knew beforehand that they were going to be dark. Thus, I was not, as I had been before, chancing it. I do not have the best photos ever. But I have decided to call my first batch of public work “First Attempts: A Retrospective.”

The subject of self-portraits is our second assignment. I’ve decided to take photos in the frames of windows and doorways. I will call this “Windows and Frames: Yet another Retrospective.”

I’m on my way, thanks to the assistance of Once Little now all grown up Hattie Schmidtkunz.

Next: 71. 2/16/12: Photoshop Returns—The Sequel