“It distresses us to return work which is not perfect”

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The late Peter O’Toole once brought in a beloved jacket to the cleaners to remove the Guinness, blood, and marmalade stains from a night out drinking.  After a week or so, the cleaners returned the jacket to Mr. O’Toole with a note that read, “It distresses us to return work which is not perfect.”  He then decided that he wanted such words etched into his gravestone as his epitaph.

This weekend past was a rather interesting day for me, one filled with action, celebration, revelation, and recuperation.  It began with the 4th Annual Midway Classic high school fencing tournament at the University of Chicago Laboratory School Saturday morning.  While it was a great day of shooting, it was an exhausting one nonetheless as the event was staggered out to three different gymnasiums, two of which were in the same wing of the building on different levels, the third in another wing completely.  At least running up and down the stairs provided me with a much needed workout, though.

The University of Chicago Laboratory School.

The University of Chicago Laboratory School.

Of course, I still have yet to publish the photographs from the Windy City Fencing Open from a fortnight ago.  The good news is that I am nearly done with editing and processing them, and I should have that album unveiled sometime this week.  I could not help but to jump the gun, however, and I have already begun perusing through the “contact sheets” (or some digital equivalence thereof) from Saturday’s tournament.

A preview of the soon-to-be-reveiled images from the Windy City Fencing January 2014 Open

A preview of the soon-to-be-reveiled images from the Windy City Fencing January 2014 Open

"Pulling a good picture out of a contact sheet is like going down to the cellar and bringing back a good bottle to share." --Henri Cartier-Bresson

“Pulling a good picture out of a contact sheet is like going down to the cellar and bringing back a good bottle to share.” –Henri Cartier-Bresson

That covered the “action” portion of my weekend.  The “celebration” portion was more on a personal level, that of my friend’s birthday revelries.  Calvin Rusiewski—also humorously known as Calvin the Betrayer among my circle of friends for various reasons, stemming from incidents concerning the Kuma’s Council (see my previous post, Of burgers and beer)—has been a great friend to me for nearly two years now, having met him through fencing.  His birthday was this past Saturday, and given his penchant for craft beer, he invited a great many of his friends to the Half Acre Beer Company Tap Room up north of the city.   A surprise awaited all of us, however, as it appeared that one of the employees at Half Acre used to fence at Fencing 2000—a long disbanded fencing club that served as the progenitor to many clubs in Chicago today.   He was kind enough to lead us through a tour of the brewery, and of course the only camera I had available was my iPhone 4.  One makes due with what one has, and according to Chase Jarvis at least, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.”

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I’m not quite certain if the Midway shoot earlier that day wore my eyes and shutter reflexes, or that I have not quite mastered the art of mobile photography while holding a pint in one hand, but the images were disappointing.  To my eyes at least.  Only very, very few frames were actually presentable after some lighting and colour adjustments in Aperture.

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Calvin the Betrayer

Calvin the Betrayer

As the night went on, we relocated to an adjacent bar that had actual liquor, and I proceeded to drink more and more.  Despite a descent into extreme inebriation and having only an iPhone, I still could not shooting.  It surprises me still that I was able to take one or two unblurred frames in such a dimly lit room.  Not perfect work, though.

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The “revelation” portion of the weekend concurred with the “recuperation” on Sunday, yesterday.  I myself turned 30 this past October, and while bloody damn young still, I have resigned myself to the fact that I cannot drink and party as much as I did in my younger and more naive days.  There once was a time when shots of Sambuca and three or four glasses of Andaye (an unholy concoction of gin, vodka, and Cointreau that I created while living in Curacao and named after the bartender who made it per my instruction) did not phase me one bit.  Now, after 40-some hours of having my first Andaye in years, the mere thought of it still churns my stomach as I attempt to suppress a mentally-induced gag reflex.  I think for now, I’ll listen more to my body and stick to tea.

“It distresses us to return work which is not perfect.”

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All images © K. Dao Photography 2014, all rights reserved.