Osama Bin Lindsay


The photo above is nothing special.  It’s simply a ship being loaded.  If you’re an aspiring amateur photographer like me, it’s the sort of thing you love to try and capture.  Sheer white light bathing an industrial landscape otherwise hidden by night (alright there tiger, don’t get too carried away with the metaphors...).  Anyways, when you see something like this, your inclination is to grab your camera.

If you’re like me, you end up taking a bunch of photos, playing with different apertures and shutter speeds.  For the record, this photo has a really high aperture (little light) and a long shutter speed-you can tell because the lights look like starts.

Back to the story.  So I took this photo after coming back from dinner in Palo Alto.  I was taking the train home, saw the ship and thought “camera time”.  I grabbed my camera, tripod (you need a tripod for shots like this) and roller bladed over to the pier.  I set up my camera and tripod just outside the grounds of the dock and started taking photos.

Three minutes later I had been branded a terrorist.

About two minutes after I began taking photos, a van drove out of the dock and pulled up next to me.  I got the stare down from the suitably unfriendly driver and asked him if there was a problem here.

“Hell yeah, there’s a problem.  You’re taking photos of my ship,” was the reply.

I said “I’m an amateur photographer.”

“What the hell is that?” stammered the world’s most intrepid security guard, staring down his rollerblade equipped jihadi.

“It means I like to take photos for fun.”

Confusion reigns; time for an accusation.  Perhaps interpreting my red hooded sweatshirt for a jalabba, he asks “How do I know that you’re not taking photos to come back and plant bombs?”

Some of you may be thinking “fair question, it’s night.”  But let’s examine the scene.  I rollerbladed up.  I’ve got my camera on a tripod and am only taking photos of the ship.  I’m also doing so very obviously and also very obviously changing my camera settings and then taking exactly the same shot.  And I also didn’t shout “death to America and the satan pig dog George Bush” once.

I respond with “How about I show you all my photos.  I’ve been going around tonight taking lots of photos at night at different settings.  I’d be glad to show them to you.”

From the safe combines of his Chevy van, America’s first line of defense is considering my offer.  But rather than engage the enemy he decides to try a different tack.  He asks me “how would you feel if I came to your house and took photos of it?”

Resisting the urge to ask what it’s like to live at the docks and whether they’re hiring because I’d love to take photos after work, I reply “I’d be flattered because it would mean that you thought that my house was beautiful enough to photograph.”

Wrong answer.  My boy gets that far away look in his eyes that I always associated with a criminal about to go on a spree and a vein starts to furiously pulse just above his left eye.  “Get out of here,” he roars.

At this point, I decide that discretion is the better part of honour (or “honor” as they write down here) and agree to go.  I rollerblade away (the jihadi’s vehicle of choice) and pop around the corner where I take the same photos from a slightly different angle.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

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