Sometime after midnight, I heard smashing and breaking noises coming from somewhere on the next block. I looked out of the front windows and saw flashing emergency lights – red, blue and yellow. Something was happening. I grabbed my camera and sallied forth into the chilly night. I went down to the corner and looked up Newburg road for the source of the lights. Two ambulances, two police cruisers, two ladder trucks and one pumper completely filled the street around Schreck’s Kentucky Liquors. The smell of smoke was in the air. The sound of all of the vehicles idling drowned out other sounds.
Now, you need to understand that this is not just any liquor store; this is my liquor store. No, I don’t own it, but this is where I buy my hootch. It’s about a block from my house, so I can walk up there, regardless of the state of mental disrepair I may be in. They sell cigarettes, racing forms and lottery tickets, too – all the essentials of life. So, you can imagine that I was concerned. This was a serious disruption of my cosmos.
I know all of the guys that work there. I talk to them all the time, mostly about sports and the weather. The guy in the blue hoodie is Steve. He’s a really decent guy with a great sense of humor. I always enjoy talking to him when I go in there to buy a fifth of Ancient Age.
I was shooting my new Nikon D7000 with a 18-70mm lens. I was shooting fast. I learned to use a an SLR in the days of film, so I don’t “chimp” (look at the view screen) when I’m shooting a dynamic situation. I don’t want to waste that much time. I shoot the pictures with the best settings I can think of and hope I get something that works or can be made to work in Photoshop. In this case, I set the camera to basic “Program” mode and cranked the ISO up the 6400. With the high ISO and in Program Mode, the onboard flash of the camera would not activate and that’s what I wanted – the way the scene actually looked rather than having it artificially illuminated with flash. I forgot to turn on the D7000’s “high ISO noise reduction” but the result was a grain effect not unlike 400 ASA color print film, which I still find pleasing.
The fire was electrical. One of the coolers had caught fire. The smell was acrid, and even twenty four hours later, my nose is still running and I’ve used a box of Kleenex. I don’t see how the firemen do it. I would be sneezing all the time. The fire was not very destructive fortunately. A passerby had seen it and called it in early, so the fire fighters could get it put out before it did a lot of damage to the store.
With the fire safely out, the firemen rolled up their hoses and washed their shovels in the parking lot. One by one, the big fire trucks pulled away. Then the cops roared off in their cruisers, onward to new adventures and mayhem. That’s one job I don’t want. Steve and I went into the store and began to think about how to secure the place. I have some scrap plywood, but nothing large enough to cover the broken window pane. Steve repeatedly dialed Chris, the owner, but Chris wasn’t answering his phone. Eventually, Chris showed up at about 2 AM. There came a point at which the cold was beginning to get to me, I asked Steve if there was anything I could get for him, like coffee or lanterns, because it was becoming clear that he would need to babysit the violated store until sunrise. The fire fighters had broken the door and a window to get in and extinguish the fire.
Steve said that he was OK, so I took my leave and scurried back to my computer to upload the photos to see what I had gotten. I wasn’t disappointed. The low light performance of the D7000 is impressive.