Okay, I admit it. I’m a terrible photographer. If it wasn’t for the annual school photos my kids’ childhoods would have passed into unrecorded history. I guess you could say I’m a person who likes to see the big picture. I hate to spend birthdays and trips to Disneyland looking through a tiny lens.
That’s why I made my husband the designated photographer during the early years of our marriage. Big mistake; he stands six foot six which explains why our photo albums are filled with clouds, treetops and the roof of Sleeping Beauty’s Magic Castle. In his defense he did get some great shots of our son’s cowlick.
I guess by now you might think it strange that I would write about a lady photographer–in the 1800s no less, when cameras weighed a ton, required long exposures and dangerous chemicals.
Stranger things have happened. I just discovered 136 photos of my right ear on my cell phone. Who knows? This new technology might make a photographer out of me yet.
As the book opens we find Lucy sitting in a tree determined to photograph a legendary white stal-lion known to roam nearby. Her troubles are just about to begin:
A rumbling sound alerted her. Peering through the branches, she realized it was the Wells Fargo stagecoach, two days late as usual.
Sighing, she wiggled into a more comfortable position and restlessly swung her bare legs. No wild stallion would make an appearance as long as the stage was in the area, but she had no choice but to sit and wait.
The rumbling of the stage grew louder, as did the impatient shouts of the driver urging his team of six horses up the slight incline. To while away the boredom, she decided to take a photograph of the stage as it passed below.
She adjusted the camera so that it pointed to the road and peered into the viewfinder. The image, though dim, was clear on the frosted glass. No black cloth was needed. She moved the lever to adjust the shutter speed to high.
Fingering the leather bulb in hand, she waited. The bulb, attached to a rubber tube, allowed her to take photographs without jarring the camera. Steady, steady—
Startled by voices, she pulled away from the camera and blinked. The stagecoach had stopped directly below her and the driver disembarked, hands over his head.
It was then that she noticed the three horsemen she had seen earlier, their faces now hidden beneath bright colored kerchiefs. She had been so focused on the stage she failed to notice their presence until now. The sun glinted against the barrel of a gun and she gasped. Covering her mouth with her hand, she watched the drama unfold below.
The stagecoach was being robbed. Shock soon turned to delight. She couldn’t believe her good fortune. A wonderful photographic opportunity had practically fallen into her lap—or more accurately, at her feet. Just wait until Jacoby Barnes hears about this!
The gunman came into view below her, yelling, “Get the box!” He was no doubt referring to the green wooden Wells Fargo money box strapped next to the driver’s seat.
Praying the bandits would not notice her high-button shoes strewn at the base of the tree, she peered through her viewfinder.
The lens was focused on the driver, but if she moved it to the right, just so . . . heart pounding with excitement, she leaned forward and readjusted the camera, tightening the rope that held it.
A twig snapped and one of the robbers looked up. She quickly pulled back and lost her balance. Arms and legs flailing, she fell through the air letting loose an ear-piercing scream. She landed on the stagecoach roof with a thud, sprawled face down.
The startled horses whinnied and the stage took off, taking her with it and leaving the startled gunmen, passengers, and driver in the dust.