Global Lens Reflections on life, the universe, and everything

Handy translator

A double exposure of Michelle Menefee, a member of First United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, as she interprets the proceedings of the denomination's 2008 General Conference in American Sign Language.

I've been on assignment in Haiti, and haven't posted for two weeks. I hope you survived in the absence of the PotW. . . Haiti is one of those places where I need a translator most of the time, as my crappy French isn't good enough to understand most Kreyol. Translators are critical players in helping us understand the world. They do much more than just exchange one word for another, which a computer can do. A human translator conveys culture in all its weirdness, emotion, feeling, and complexity. And translators don't just do sounds, they use their fingers and faces as well, as Michelle Menefee of Houston, Texas, displays as she translates into American Sign Language at the 2008 United Methodist General Conference in Fort Worth. This is a double exposure, obviously, which I did internally on a Nikon D3. I captured the first image, then moved the camera slightly to reposition her in the frame, and pressed the shutter release for the second image. I had the camera set to do this using automatic gain, which means it made the overall exposure work out. I spent half an hour shooting Michelle and two colleagues, and some of the combinations were pretty funny looking. This one is serious but conveys something of how she puts her heart into her job.

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