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  • Betty Girardeau

Peek-a-Boo


I am sure that all of us have played peek-a-boo with a small child at one time or another, just as it is highly likely that adults played it with us. This seems to be a universal game whose origins probably go back to prehistory. This term's association with a whimsical children's game of surprise can be traced to the 1590's. Psychologists believe this to be an important game to play with young children as it teaches them something called object permanence, the idea that even though something can't be seen, (like your smiling face), it still exists. Additionally, it stimulates a baby's senses, encourages social development, strengthens visual tracking, and tickles its sense of humor, among other things. When you set out to put a sunstar into an image, you are playing this game, too, though obviously with inanimate objects. It can take a little while to set up the shot to make it come out right. In the case of the picture above, I had already been drawn to the stark silhouette of the tree and branches against a cloudless sky. In fact I had already taken a picture of that. But I think adding the sunstar was like adding the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae. You have to not only have your camera settings just right for this to work, but you also have to stand just right or the sun is not seen at all or the sunstar is poorly formed, showing just minimal rays. I think in this one it is important for the sun to be as important as the tree. And for that reason I decided this image was best rendered mostly in black and white with just a hint of the color in the sun because the vibrant blue of the sky that morning was taking too much away from what I considered to be the real players in this game of peek-a-boo. To me it seemed to be a visual example of "two's company; three's a crowd." Photography is all about light, and sometimes it is fun to have the giver of that light a major part of the image. But to be successful doing this, you have to play a game of peek-a-boo.


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