Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Nobel Peas Prize

It Ain’t Easy Being Green

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


I love a challenge. So when Maggie May paid me a great compliment in early April, I had to live up to her expectations. She said I could probably photograph a simple sight like a bowl of peas and produce a decent image - and Crazy Cath was quick on the uptake, echoing Maggie May's praise.

So a couple of days later, while I was driving home, I pulled over at a fruit-and-vegetable stall to buy a decent serve of peas. The owner happened to mention that they had little cups of specially grown peas. Yeah, I thought, that'll work for me. I had a busy evening ahead of me and I figured buying the shelled peas would save me a lot of time.

I thanked him for his advice, handed him a tenner and he gave me back a five-dollar note. So I'm thinking, ``Five bucks for a cup of peas?'' Naaah, surely not. Surely he was going to put his paw in the till and hand me another three or four bucks.

Er, no. There was a sticker on the peas. The sticker said ``$5''. I shoulda sent them to the Smithsonian to be preserved.

On my way back to the car, I noticed there was an antique shop nearby. The thought crossed my mind that I should have ducked in there and bought a Wedgwood plate or a crystal bowl, the better to take home the World's Most Expensive Handful Of Peas. Huh, for all I knew the Wedgwood or crystal might have been less expensive than the precious little cargo in my hand.

Instead, I placed the tiny container of peas on the passenger seat of the car, much like a butler would have placed a royal footstool before a weary monarch - with the utmost respect.

When I got home, I unwrapped the gold nugget, er, sorry, the peas. And I stood there shaking my head for several seconds. Not only had I broken the Reserve Bank to pay for them, they fell short in one vital area. They weren't shiny green. You know, like the colour of normal peas. No, mate, they were a dull olive green, a bit like the paintwork on a secondhand army tank. No gloss. No sheen. No class. No pedigree.

I could have gone to the freezer and pulled out some frozen peas and I would have got a better result. But no, Maggie May and Crazy Cath were waiting. And I always believe in working with what I have. So I gritted my teeth and carried on. (Remind me to send the dentistry bill to Maggie and Cath, will ya?)

It was like working with plasticine. I longed for the bright green peas that I had imagined I was buying. So I decided I would grab a cheese grater from the kitchen and shave some ice over the peas. You know, to make 'em glisten a bit. But the ice cubes kept slipping in my grasp and I gave up when it looked as if I would slice my fingers to ribbons.

But I'm a determined sort. So I took out a small, sharp kitchen knife and yep, you guessed it, I tried cutting little slivers off the ice cubes. But slivers are still a lot bigger than ice shavings, so I had to wait a few minutes for the ice to melt, but then when it did, I had beads of moisture on the peas.

And that's when I got the most interesting shot of the day. In trying to liven up the colour, I had placed a red Skittles lolly (candy) among the peas. And if you look really closely at the last photograph (below) you'll see that the melting ice has caused the red Skittles to shed its colour rather dramatically.

And you want to know what I did with the peas after I finished shooting these photographs? I put them straight in the bin.

So I'll have to take up Maggie May's and Crazy Cath's challenge again. However, next time I'll do it with normal peas.

It'll be the justice of the peas.

44 comments:

74WIXYgrad said...

Five bucks for a handful of peas? At that price, you should have able to put them in your gas tank.

Akelamalu said...

Almost a peas of cake eh? :)

Corey~living and loving said...

Great photos....but so confused as to why you didn't try them????? I would have ate them simply because they cost so much. tee hee

have a great weekend.

Cuckoo said...

Great shots David but that expensive ??

I would have kept them in my bank locker !!

Daryl said...

You wasted those perfectly good overpriced peas? Designer peas tossed out like so much rubbish? I guess you didnt know that peas that are frozen, those GREEN peas? They'd treated with something .. REAL peas are not emerald green at all ...

:-Daryl

Suburbia said...

Oh what a shame! I love fresh peas straight from the shells. Yours look like tined!! However great photos, the water droplets look superb! Nice story too!!

Hilary said...

I guess we'll just have to pod'n you until the next attempt.. but they sure did look great anyway. Love the spontaneous Skittle.

And since you asked, I did update. :)

For The People said...

Unique!

Rhea said...

Love the frozen nuggets...I mean, peas. Sheesh, those were expensive!

These little kids I occasionally watch love to snack on fozen sweet peas. I tried some the other day and they were pretty good. Not $5 good, but good.

The things we do for art. hehe Great pictures!! You like challenges, eh? hmmm...I'll have to think of a good one for you....

Betsy said...

Not only did you make common peas look great in a photograph, you managed to write about them in a funny, entertaining style, too. Always have fun coming over to your blog!

CrazyCath said...

David I am flattered you went to such trouble. But the justice of the peas? Where's your son with his "Groaaan!"?

They are brilliant shots and I bow down to your determination, imagination, downright stubbornness to get what you want and bank balance. I doubt I'll have to pay a dentistry bill though - I'm sure I have heard you mention doing things through gritted teeth before.... ;0)

They look quite appetising to me, but then again I don;t know how long they were sat there...
And I am glad I am not the only one doing mad things, although I have never tried grating ice! lol

Well done - never let it be said you give up on a challenge. Even if you need a mortgage to fulfill it. (Sorry).

Thalia's Child said...

beautiful pictures - but why in god's name didn't you eat them? Peas are (as my 16 month old would say) YUM!

BRUNO said...

DARYL here in your comments has a valid point---that bright-green color ain't a natural occurance.(I think they pay Ernie the Keebler Elf to take indecent liberties with 'em when the sun goes down...!)

Misty Dawn said...

Oh my gosh, you are the best. You realize how many new challenges you are going to get now, don't you? Ya know, I must admit, I prefer corn... hehe. Who ate the rest of the Skittles? Certainly you didn't pay for just ONE Skittle did you... well, considering what you paid for the peas, maybe I shouldn't be so quick to jump to conclusions. Hehehe You make me smile and you inspire me, David.

lime said...

now why am i think of some twisted aussie version of jack and the beanstalk? what might live at the top of a giant pea plant? gregor mendel?

Trinity said...

great shots.. and unique indeed! So red.. so green.. and so eye catching!

Sandy Kessler said...

now that's a precious %5.00 bucks worth - when you got finished..

willow said...

I know peas and carrots....but peas and Skittles? Very creative, David! :)

Katney said...

You must be used to frozen peas which are bright green. This looks ther right color for fresh ones.

When I was in college (the first time--I always say that since I went back again after 40) the peas served in the cafeteria were frozen when served at dinner and canned when served at lunch (or vice versa--it's been a very long time.) Frozen taste fresher, but the canned ones look more this color and taste yucky!

Katney said...

I am not sure which is the mental image you find interesting--two kinds of peas or twice entering college--at very different ages.

I can give you my e-mail, but will not post it for the world to see (thought I am sure it is wandering about out there in cyberspace in abundance but have managed to avoid most spam.) As I have comment moderation enabled, comment me yours and I will respond without publishing.

BTW, fresh pead, despite the color, taste nothing like the canned ones.

Ishat's Fire said...

I liked the photos. But I would have made the peas.

I try to garden and when things are grown, and different verities have different colouring, home and organic gardens produce verities that are not for look so much as for taste. Or even nourishment.

Modern farms have put to a science how people want to see meat and veggies, etc. This is why most Americans have no clue what a real, from the garden tomatoes tastes like. Or look like for that matter. They are looking for visual perfection, but not taste.

But at least they weren't a total loss, it gave you subject matter.

Katney said...

Okay, I'm back and I'm not stalking you honest. I realized the mental picture was on a different post.

Maggie May said...

David ......... I hope you don't think I'm sending you the 5 dollars!
I was a bit gob smacked when I saw this post! Glad I didn't miss it!
Anyway..... well done! I think you REALLY did a great job with the bowl of peas!

Now the REAL challenge would have been to grow your own!
Nnooo! I really didn't mean that!

leslie said...

Well, you certainly did manage to make art out of those dull-looking peas. But don't you think you could have at least tasted them before tossing them? lol Well done, you!

napaboaniya said...

AUD$5 for a little peas!! *gulpz* But the price of that picture is priceless :)

Hope they taste good!!

Hootin' Anni said...

Fabulous photos!! I'd have tried them...why not? You only live once.

Tomorrow [the 11th] we celebrate 40 years of marriage. Today I have some photos of our wedding day - 1968 for the photo hunt theme!

Lee said...

A red skittles huh? Well that certainly looks bright. I sympathize with your lack of bright green but I bet those peas would have tasted good. Special varieties usually do.

Actually, as a challenge I think peas are fine but I bet there are more difficult subjects out there...say mashed potatoes. :) Er...I'm not sure that's a challenge for you but if you decide to take the subject up I'll be interested in seeing the results. Of course if you start making a habit of photographing food I'm going to start sending you chocolate ecards. (G)

Smiling brightly!

Dave Coulter said...

And here I thought this would be a lecture on conformity!

Shrinky said...

Blimey - think he saw you coming my friend. Still, you could have at least tried one.. who knows, they might have tasted like caviar?

At least you got some good shots out of it.

alicesg said...

Very lovely photos of the peas. I have a lot to learn about photography from you.

Jo Beaufoix said...

That last shot is so pretty though. :D

Sharon said...

Well you proved them right! these are great pictures.

However, it would have irked me to have paid that much for peas, especially since I don't care for them that muck.

Pretty Life Online said...

great shot! fantastic catch indeed! mine's up too hope you can

Carver said...

I love your story and the shots. I thought you got them home and discovered a red pea and they were going to be some kind of special exotic pea. Then when you discussed the dangers with the knife, I thought oh no the red pea is really a green pea with David's blood. I never in a million years would have guessed it was a skittle.

Sarge Charlie said...

throw them on the barbie, if they do not fall through they must be good

ghee said...

wow!what a shop!very cheap :)
and they looked so yummy!!

MINE`S UP,TOO!

ghee

chateau a.k.a. imom said...

LOL, thanks for sharing the amusing story behind the photos. This one made my day hehe

Colin Campbell said...

I thought they were olives at first. Fantastically creative pictures and a funny story.

Jules~ said...

Yes $5 is alot for a handful of peas but what wonderful pictures you took! I never tire of your shots.
You know, in the long run, those peas look way more fun and appetizing than the boring old freezer ones. These have the zing of looking fresh...organic...not fake and uniform.

-TNChick- said...

I expected to see something wonderful when I came here... and I did. I know I don't make it by each week but when I do... You always amaze me. I just love your photography - no matter the subject!

John said...

Great and expensive macro shots David! LOL
It`s always engaging to read your description - story and look at your great photos.
You`re a great AUTHOR David.

Maybe you have to come to Norway and recive the Nobel Peas Prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee for this post ;-)

Thank you for the kind comment and including me to your P.O.T.D at friday, it's always an honor to be in such excellent company.

Have a nice sunday.
Greetings fro John - Norway.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Well, all in all it was five bucks well spent - at the bottom line. So many people enjoyed the story and the peas, though not too shiny-green are a treat for the eyes.

Have a great week.

Through Thick and Thin said...

who would think a handful of peas would look so great. Photos like these can be so inspiring.

Jenn: said...

Not only do you find beauty in your dull, overpriced peas, but you uncover the humor in a simple story about said peas. A truly enjoyable post!