Sunday, July 05, 2009

Apparitions In Providence

I have never believed in ghosts, but many who do have sworn to me that cameras are an excellent way to detect proof of “This blob of light wasn’t there when I snapped the picture!” they say. “Sometimes the camera picks up on things you can’t notice yourself.”

And they’re right. It happened to me yesterday, on the Fourth of July.

My boyfriend and I went to Providence, Rhode Island, to catch the downtown Waterfire show and then watch the fireworks over the harbor from our hotel room. (Side note: turns out fireworks are a lot better when you don’t have to crane your neck back to see them, but can look straight ahead.)

Waterfire is this performance-art thing Providence occasionally hosts at sunset. There’s a shallow river encased in concrete running through the city, and when Waterfire events are held, metal braziers filled with firewood are mounted on the river in the downtown area, bonfires burn from sunset through midnight while ethereal music blasts from speakers built into the river wall, and you get to walk through a downtown lit almost entirely by firelight.

In the hours before sunset, some techno-rock-rap band combo gave a free concert while people waited for Waterfire to begin. There’s a grassy hill sloping down to the riverfront, and most spectators reclined on the grass to watch the band below. Jeff and I got there early enough to find seats on the edge of one of the concrete stairways, and once we settled in I took a photo of him with out digital camera.

The camera’s screen is barely two inches wide, so you can’t make out most details in a picture until you expand it to full-size on a computer. When we got home today and unpacked our things, I went to my office to send off one of my mind-numbing but lucrative “I shoulda been a tentacle porn actress” editing jobs when I suddenly heard Jeff start laughing, and call me into his room.

“Come in’ere. Check this out,” he said as I walked in. He’d been uploading the pictures from our trip, and clicked through several shots of one or more of us at the concert. “See this picture?” he said, as this one appeared on the screen:

“Sure,” I said. “What’s so funny?”

“Check out my shoulder,” he said, and zoomed in on the photo. At first he started zooming in on his shirt, and I thought the denouement would turn out to be some small discoloration, so I tried thinking of something warm and supportive to say to a significant other who finds “A dark spot on a shirt after nine hours of running around doing touristy things” was laugh-out-loud funny.

But I worried for naught. He adjusted the controls, and I saw that I had taken a stunning photo of the classic Rhode Island hospitality that’s made “Family Guy” such a popular documentary series:

Lucky for me I didn’t take that photo at work. The editor would’ve yelled at me because I didn’t get their names for the caption.


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