Talking Pictures
“Cold And Tired”

My wife and I visited Prague, in the Czech Republic, in November 2006. It is a simply beautiful city, full of color, with sculptures around and at the top of a very large number of buildings. It is a great city to walk around and just look at the beauty--and the people. We went for walks every day for six days and nights, sometimes riding the tram to get farther out, and I was taking photos as we went.

One day, we decided to go to the Prague Castle, which was a tram ride and a good walk away. We went outside the hotel and decided to go back in because we needed to bundle up. It was cold and looked like it would be rainy; at least it was overcast along with the cold. Being susceptible to the cold, I made certain (I thought) that I would stay warm with a T-shirt, heavy shirt, wool sweater, heavy waterproof windbreaker with hood, wool scarf, and umbrella.

The castle grounds were populated with loads of tourists, but the impressive thing to me was the beauty of the "out" buildings, with their wonderful woodwork, stonework, and the way they were maintained. I took many images of several of the doors in particular.

Then, as I was focusing for photos of two doors and their excellent fore benches and matching wood steps, I noticed that a man was sitting on the middle bench, unmoving, almost as if he were a lifelike statue. The whole time I was taking my photos, he did not move a millimeter, or at least I did not notice it if he did. My photos were intended to be of the large, great looking, heavy studded doors and the wooden benches and steps.

The cold was so bitter and the wind so constant that it cut through my five layers of protection as if I were dressed for summer. My camera hand was stiff, in a claw-like grasp of the hand hold of my camera. I could hardly push the shutter release without shaking the camera severely. To say it was merely bone chilling was to insult the true description of the weather. Nevertheless, the man on the bench just sat there and stared, not moving, not doing anything.

When I returned after vacation and processed the image, I got a close look at his face. Now every time I look at the photo, I recall the chill of that day. His expression looks like I felt--cold and tired. His face is a reflection of the weather and I cannot resist going back to that image over and over, reminding me of an otherwise fine day in a fine city, overcast but certainly not bad for photography, and so cold I can feel it now, as I look at the photo again.
--V. Michael Straus
Highland, MD

© 2006, V. Michael Straus, All Rights Reserved

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