Cal Anderson is a beautiful park. It’s got grassy knolls to sit on, sports fields, fountains, benches, trees, a playground . . . everything but a skatepark. In a city where I, at times, feel trapped and dulled by the asphalt, cement, and cars, it’s a wonderful place to go and relax. It soothes the soul.
And the fountains, did I mention the fountains?
I love water. Love, love, love it, and the fountains at Cal have plenty of it. Two big spacious pools full – one moving and energetic, one still and calm. I could sit by them for days . . . maybe shoot some pictures of them. Maybe at night.
The other day, though, the fountains were drained and dry.
The sun also happened to be out . . .
And I had my BMX with me and was meeting up with Greg.
Recently someone asked me why I love BMX so much and I suppose it’s because the BMX is a lens to see the world through. A way to interpret the landscape around you. A paintbrush with the whole world as your canvas. BMX is about seeing the terrain around you in terms of how you could ride your bike over it, on it, above it, off of it, and then actualizing that vision. If walking is a (boring) direct connection to the physical world, riding a BMX removes you one step. It’s easier to walk up a staircase than to ride a bike up it, but I’d rather do the latter. Riding around town looking for obstacles to ride puts your consciousness in a place where you are more aware of certain things that you wouldn’t notice otherwise.
And when an opportunity arises for you to ride something that is normally un-rideable, you pounce on it and have fun. Case in point: the Cal Anderson fountains. Usually they are filled with water . . . but when the water goes away, you’re left with a unique feature that you get to enjoy in a new way, even if just for one day.
Having mainly shot still-life before, this was tricky and challenging in a couple of ways. First, there was the pressure that I put on myself to get good shots in the fountain. I wasn’t sure if the fountains were going to be dry again anytime soon, so I really wanted to make the best of the opportunity that I had on my hands. Second, BMX looks really good on video and in sequence shots, where the viewer can fully appreciate the difficulty and amplitude of a move or trick, but my camera doesn’t do either. Trying to freeze the action at a moment where it both looks good and conveys (at lease in part) what is going on is tough and can be pretty hit or miss. Lastly, I just didn’t really know how to shoot action shots and so it was sort of me learning as I shot. This also added to the pressure because, even though Greg is a really good rider, no one can do the same trick over and over and have it look the exact same . . . Greg’s riding was sort of like a beautiful “this-won’t-ever-happen-again-in-the-same-way-with-the-same-lighting” photo challenge that actually worked out pretty well.
Eventually I wound up putting down the camera and riding too.