Monday 29 July 2013

My 15 Minutes of Fame--BLOWN

    Back in 1977, the Cosmos seemed to be unwinding in my favor.  At the time I was very interested in nature photography, especially close-ups of flowers and any other small natural thing that caught my interest.  One day, while walking along a beach on Vancouver Island a big toad jumped to get out of my way.  I had all my camera equipment with me, so I set it all up to try to get a photo of the amphibian.
    I had a 200mm lens, which I twisted onto a bellows that was then attached to my camera body, which was on a tripod.  I had a small hand-held flash that was plugged in to an extension cable, so I could hold it close to the toad, which by this time was huddled down in some foliage.
    I pressed down on my shutter cable and the flash flashed, and my camera clicked.  I thought I had gotten a good photo, but in those days you never knew until you had sent the slide film away, waited for two or three weeks for it to be developed, and then got it back and able to look at the slide.  When I did get it back I was very satisfied--it was a great shot.
    The following summer is when we were looking around for a house and property to buy.  We really were, for sure, going to live in BC, and we really liked the mountains and landscapes of the Robson Valley,  around McBride.  We found a small hobby farm with a tiny house on 5 acres of land, and bought it.
      We weren’t able to move in for a couple of months and in the mean time, we had been reading issues of a new Canadian magazine called “Harrowsmith” that was all about gardening and rural living. At the time, “back to the land” sort of articles were all the vogue.
    In one edition, I noticed that Harrowsmith was going to sponsor its first annual photo contest.  The categories were very garden oriented.  One category was “Garden Friends and Foes”.  I wracked my brain to think if I had any photos that I could enter, and decided that my toad photo just might fit.  Toads eat a lot of insects, and even though the toad in my photo wasn’t in a garden, it was sitting amongst some yarrow which is a herb, so maybe the Harrowsmith people would think it was in the garden. 
    I sent the slide in, and forgot about it.  Then, during November of 1977 a big envelope from Harrowsmith, arrived in the mail.   Inside was a letter, and the latest Harrowsmith magazine.  The letter said, ‘Congratulations, you have won the Grand Prize- a Nikon Camera, in our First Annual Photo Contest”, it went on to say they had used my photo in the centerfold of their upcoming magazine.    I was so excited, I could hardly get my fingers coordinated enough to leaf through the magazine for a look.  
    Finally, getting to the middle of the magazine, I opened it and there spread across the two pages was a big blowup of my toad photo.  
    “Wow,” I thought, “I am famous!”    My ecstasy lasted only until I happen to look down at the caption below the photo, which read:  “Grand Price Winner- Bob Marchant, McBride, BC.” 
     My name is David.  There it was--my 15 minutes of fame--Blown.

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