After a week of malady compounded further by the medicine meant to combat it, I finally felt like venturing out of the condo yesterday. Well, maybe I didn’t exactly feel like it, but I was beginning to suffer from an opportunistic affliction known as termino morbus. Don’t worry, it sounds worse than it actually is. Like all things medical, it’s a latin term that, roughly translated, means “closure sickness.” Its folksier name is “shutter withdrawal” and, as any obsessive photographer knows, it’s an affliction that causes one eye to close and the index finger to flex up-and-down. While this is a perfectly normal occurrence in a healthy photographer, you must remember that healthy photographers always have a camera in hand. After long periods of non-photography (such as those caused by illness) the brain’s auto-mechanical neural network causes one’s muscles to contract spontaneously as if taking a photo, even though no camera is present. Strangers are often amused by this mildly ‘eccentric’ behavior, but it does tend to frighten loved ones — particularly in its advanced stages where patients begin to make audible camera sounds with their lips.
So, in spite of the fact that my health wasn’t quite where it needed to be, I felt I simply must leave the condo or risk a worsening case of termino morbus. I grabbed my smallest, lightest camera — the Panasonic DMC-LX3 — and, like a newborn fawn (but not nearly as adorable) took my first tentative steps. With an uncertainty reflected in my unsteadiness, I moved slowly over the length of that first city block. But as I gained my confidence, I captured a second block; then another; and another — until I arrived at the Vancouver Library.
Why the library? Two reasons. One, I had some DVDs to pick up. And two, it’s a beautiful building. Buildings are ideal subjects for eradicating termino morbus because they’re immutable. They don’t run away. They’re not shy. They stand patiently waiting for you to photograph them. They’re “chicken soup” for the shaky, enervated photographer, and the Vancouver Public Library — a modern helical take on a classical coliseum — is a mighty fine bowl of it. After spending a mere five minutes triggering the electronic shutter on my compact LX3 camera, the tremors subsided, my eye opened, and my index finger stopped flexing all by itself. My termino morbus went into remission, and I even have a few useless shots of the Vancouver Library to show for it.
I was even lucky enough to score a “candid” shot in the library atrium. Granted, it required a minimum of effort on my part, since my subject wasn’t exactly moving — but he did give me an extra injection of termino morbus anti-venom, which will carry me through the remaining days of my existing, primary malady.