***WARNING*** Let’s be honest with each other…This blog is YOUR fault, not mine. You voted for it….essentially YOU made me do this…..I’m just passing along something that happened. Remember that in case you throw up in your mouth a bit or perhaps experience heart palpitations in about five minutes.
P.S. It’s a long one, so grab a beer.
This month marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of my graduation from Hallmark Institute of Photography in 1984. Don’t consider sending your kids there…it closed in 2016 after the founder’s son / then-president plead guilty to bank fraud and tax evasion and was sentenced to prison. Anyway, in honor of this milestone and my upcoming Hallmark reunion in August, this blog (that remember, you forced me to write) will attempt to entertain you but more importantly introduce you to some key photographic terms commonly used throughout my first profession. (OK, not the digital terms, because I’m old and that shit didn’t exist when I made a living with cameras.) Photography terms will appear in bold format, in case you drift and are not paying appropriate attention.
This bizarre event took place in about 1992. Somewhere between pimping hot dogs and selling accident insurance to high-risk loggers, I tried my luck at selling for a company called Colorado Prime, based in Long Island. The multitude of Google search results for “Colorado Prime” often include additional words like “ripoff” “overpriced” “scam” and “not BBB accredited”, but hey….that’s not important as you tuned in for a story with a far more prurient slant – didn’t you Laura, Rachael, Yvonne, James, Greg, Sherry, Bernadette and you too Kathy (who requested it only because she knew it wasn’t about me!)
So, for the sake of argument….let’s call the star of this blog Ed. That’s a common name, right? Let’s call him Ed Jones as that’s random and super common. It’s easy to remember and what the hell, it is even more convenient as its his real name too. Ed was a sales rep for this company and at the time of this debacle, somehow I had already managed to get myself promoted to Branch Manager of the West Springfield, Mass location…so the sales reps reported to me. Our Auburn, Mass branch manager was on vacation and I found myself covering his branch for the week. The telemarking department would smile and dial, trying to get appointments for sales reps to go to people’s houses in order to sell them six months of meat, plus (naturally) a freezer (and what the heck)…a few thousand more dollars of European cutlery, Waterford crystal and other silly stuff too. Ed landed an evening sales call in a small town named Brookfield, located outside of Worcester. Three hours later, Ed walked out the door with an order over $7,000 (perhaps $1,500 was actually the food itself). We used to call it a “quad”, meaning food plus three additional extras like freezer, cutlery and crystal. Basically – he hit a grand slam and his commission easily topped $1,200.
Don’t fret – I didn’t forget the photography lesson….just hang in there a bit longer. Roll forward to the next morning, perhaps 9:00AM. All is well, just chilling in the manager’s office when through the window I see Debbie, the administrative manager, answer a call and in less than thirty seconds watched her facial expressions morph from serene to confusion to disbelief to utter shock. She places the call on hold, runs to my office, opens the door and says in a deadpan manner, “Hey Mr. Manager, I’ve got this guy on the phone….Ed’s customer from last night…He wants to cancel the whole deal. He says that during the sale, Ed exposed himself to his wife. Jim, the guy’s out of his mind pissed off. You have to talk with him.” And just like that, my day went off the cliff.
Quick introduction of Ed. I hired Ed and up to this point, it was a great hire. He was an excellent sales person, well-dressed, rugged good looks, big smile, attentive listener…I couldn’t think of a negative thing to say about the guy. When he walked in for the interview, I immediately thought that he looked like a 1970’s version of the great heavyweight boxer, Joe Fraser. Ed was such a hard worker, honest, always on time….never a complaint. I simply couldn’t imagine what was going on for a customer to say this.
Circles of confusion – the largest blur spot that is indistinguishable from the point source that is being rendered. Or, my thoughts at that exact moment.
I’ve sold, lost and saved plenty of deals before. Sometimes, they didn’t really need the freezer…or perhaps sixteen extra filet mignons can save a deal they thought was a bit pricey. This however was a new one altogether.
“Good Morning! This is Jim”, I said confidently into the phone (as Deb stood in my open doorway smirking). The gentleman identified himself, asked for confirmation that I was the branch manager and then skipped the usual pleasantries and emphatically ticked off a number of mind blowing statements beginning with:
Overexposure – the result of recording too much light when taking a picture, which results in a lighter image. Or, perhaps Ed and his penis that evening in Brookfield.
Focus Lock – pre-focussing the subject and re-framing by moving the camera. Or, as I suspect, his wife’s downward attention.
Burst Mode – A high-speed camera mode that is often used for shooting sports and other action events. Or, the overall demeanor of this man on the other end of the phone.
A tractor trailer of New York cheesecakes and standing rib roasts couldn’t save this deal, so I took his cancellation over the phone and explained quite frankly that I could not respond to his statements until I spoke with Ed.
Resolution – the number of pixels, both horizontally and vertically, used to either capture or display an image. Or, what I hoped to offer him later to save the deal and Ed from being arrested.
I assured him that I’d phone him back later that day and I concluded the call and went for a nice long walk alone in the parking lot.
Ring…..Ring….Ring….“Hi Ed, its Jim. Got a minute?” “Sure, boss…Hey. Did you hear about my sale last night?” he said proudly. So….not believing what I was about to say….here’s how our special Q&A session when down:
So Ed…how’d the evening go? – – – – Nice people Jim, they love the program.
Ed, anything out of the ordinary happen last night? – – – – No, not really, Jim.
OK Ed, can you think of any reason that the customer would have called me this morning and canceled the entire order and threaten to call the police? – – – – Oh, yeah, I guess… maybe.
Red-eye – the term used to describe the reddened pupils of a subject’s eyes that sometimes occurs when photographing people or pets with an electronic flash. Or, the look on the face of a manager (me) that thinks his employee’s arrest is imminent.
Ed, the guy said that you exposed your penis to him and his wife? Why would he say such a thing?- – – -Well Jim, to be honest, I drove almost an hour to their house. When I got out of my car and was walking to their front door, I slipped on some ice and ripped my pants from my crotch to my knee.
Blowout – Severe overexposure, which results in a complete loss of highlight detail. Or, Ed’s slacks.
I tried to cover myself up as best as possible. I was an hour from home and at that point what else could I do?
Wide open – Use of a lens with the aperture at the widest setting. Or, Ed’s inseam.
Centre-Weighted – Term used to describe an automatic exposure system that uses just the centre portion of the image to adjust the overall exposure value. Apparantly Ed.
Ed, seriously, is there any possibility that he and his wife could actually see your penis while you sat at their kitchen table talking about food, freezers and what ever the hell else that you sold them?- – – -Well, to be honest with ya boss – yes, because….well boss…..I don’t wear no drawers.
Exposure compensation – Modifying the shutter speed or aperture from the camera’s recommended exposure to create a certain effect. Or, going not going into a strangers’ home when your penis is hanging out of your ripped pants.
Oh My God, Ed! You sat some peoples table with a two foot long rip in your pants and no underwear and stayed there for three hours?- – – -Well Jim, I made the sale, didn’t I?
Ed, the guy said that his wife still can barely speak and he was so scared that they just bought everything just to get you the hell out of their house!
I thanked Ed for his time, immediately called my regional manager who then (after screaming profusely) set up a conference call with our HR Department. Final resolution was Ed was written up for failure to use good judgement. He continued to be a good sales guy and promised to wear underwear on each and every future sales call. That was one of those things we took on faith. Last time I saw Ed, I was driving East on the Massachusetts Turnpike about 3 miles before the Auburn exit. As I approached I saw lots of brake lights, then smoke, then a disabled vehicle. Wait, its a BMW Bavaria (pretty obscure car that Ed drove). Now I see a chiseled & shirtless African American guy trying to put out an active engine fire with his dress shirt. It was an unreal visual I’ll not forget. He certainly had an excuse for being late to our sales meeting and probably had good reason not to use his slacks as a firefighting tool. Just sayin’!
All your fault people….Hope you’re rightly embarrassed for coercing me to share this old memory. Oh before I go….a few terms I ran out of time to provide analogies to….You’re on your own people…
Firmware – Software programs or data that have been written to read-only memory (ROM).
F-Stop – Number indicating the size of the aperture. It is an inversely proportionate number as in F2.8 is a large opening and F16 is a small opening.