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Point of view: The photo's the thing

The other night I photographed three finalists in an "American Idol"-type contest held by the Boston Pops orchestra. A colleague asked me if the singers were any good. I said I hadn't really heard the first one. I was too focused on the mechanics of shooting: capturing a defining moment using a long lens in hot, cramped quarters, coping with stage lighting of rapidly shifting brightness and color temperature.

Earlier that day, I'd had a different photographic challenge. I was on a press boat in Boston Harbor, intent on getting a higher angle so the machine gun would be silhouetted against the water and not lost in a jumbled background. I was not particularly concerned or aware that I was photographing a heavily armed United States Coast Guard Homeland Security boat. (See July 8 Monitor, page 2.) In service to visual clarity, I might just as well have been trying to highlight a particular zinnia at a farm stand.

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Reflecting now on this preparedness exercise for the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Boston, I realize my journalistic detachment often inures me to many of the realities - bleak or melodic - that I encounter. I wonder what those pleasure boaters were thinking?