“If you go slowly enough, six or seven months is an eternity—if you let it be—if you forget old things, and learn new ones. Even a week can last forever.”
Rick Bass, Winter

"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
Albert Camus

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Day 63: Teaching These Two Old (ish) Dogs New Tricks

My goal this winter is summed up best by the epigraph on the home page from Rick Bass's Winter:
If you go slowly enough, six or seven months is an eternity--if you let it be--if you forget old things, and learn new ones.  Even a week can last forever.
One of the new things I am learning is how to take better pictures.

If you have been following this blog, you might know that at one time I was satisfied with my pictures if everyone had a head (who actually possessed one in real life) and if I could capture the color of Zoe's eyes.  So I bought a Canon Rebel T3 and have been taking Zoe on photo-shoots when I think she won't mind.
Tara and Zoe

Yesterday I asked Tara Freeman to come over to give me another photography lesson.  As you can see, Zoe sometimes decides that enough is enough, and she looks away, especially if the photographer doesn't have treats.

I sometimes think the reason why I'm not a bad teacher is because I'm not always the best of students.  I can relate to my students' difficulties and in a way, I always have "beginners' mind."  When I'm the student, there's always a point when I get to cognitive overload and I start unlearning what I thought I had down.  This happened to me in France.  I would be progressing with the language, then be out to dinner with new friends, staying in French the whole time, and I'd forget the past-perfect for a simple verb like to go.

Accordingly after a fairly good run of not-bad portraits and landscapes, I forgot what I had learned about aperture and shutter speed and I started flooding scenes with way too much light.

Instead of this photo below

I took the one on the right: you would need some kind of spooky x-ray glasses to see it.

But Tara is patient, and we had a good time in my studio looking at my photos on the computer, looking at Zoe, and just for fun, she shot a couple pictures of us on my camera: photos I would never be able to get by myself of a) Zoe looking like a bat (look at her face) and b) Zoe presenting her belly and doing her version of a horizontal hug.
the bat

Then we headed out on a walk.

The last time Zoe and I were home together so much, she was a puppy, and I taught her a lot.  Not just how to sit and stay and heel and "leave it," but the names of some of her toys. I thought, fleetingly, that maybe this "learn new things" theme for the six-or-seven months that we're home together (and that I want to last forever) could also involve Zoe acquiring, say, the vocabulary of a border collie.

I think she's that smart, although my husband thinks I'm biased.

But then when we were on the campus across the way, and she was showing me where to walk so as to avoid the worst of the ice, a student came up to us and pet her.  "What happened to her?" he asked.  "Why did she lose her leg?"

"Cancer," I said.

"And she can still walk like this?  In this weather, too?"

"She can do everything she has always done."

"How long did it take her to learn how to walk like this again?"

"A couple weeks, I think," I said.  Truth be told, those two weeks felt like two months, but I have to be grateful when that happens now.

"That's beautiful," he said. He beamed at both of us.  "That's truly beautiful."

Zoe will turn nine on the spring Equinox, if all goes well.  Sixty-three in dog years.  She will soon be a full decade older than her person.

I don't think I have anything to teach her that she doesn't already know.  But I'm learning new things all the time.

Tara and Zoe

1 comment:

  1. when I started taking pics I had no idea what i was doing, and no teacher. I tried to capture a robin's egg on a white piece of paper. Very hard, especially not understanding how to adjust the camera. I think improvement will be easy with your lovely model at hand.
    after 1.5 years, I have a flickr page, with new photos