Rubbing elbows with the locals


Digital photography beats film in lots of ways. Still, there’s “lag time,” that delay after you press the digital camera’s shutter button but before the picture is recorded. On my camera, the recording process takes five seconds — and during those seconds the electronic through-the-lens viewfinder leaves me “blind.” I see only the image being recorded to the card.

On a visit to Athens in May ’05, I decided to take a picture of three leg-lifting, arm-swinging Greek sentries marching briskly in their uniform skirts to take up posts at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.

As they approached along Queen Amalias Avenue at the top of Syntagma Square, I thought I was well clear of their path, but my eye was glued to the viewfinder. At first we were not on a collision course, but how was I to know they would make a left turn?

The sentries must have wheeled left at the same moment I tripped the shutter. The picture I got shows them already turned and marching right at me. It was in that first second of “lag time.” All three had “eyes forward,” just the way the military manual no doubt requires. I don’t know if collisions had happened to them before with other tourists, but I think the sentry on the right veered a tad to avoid me.

My camera’s “vision” returned just in time to give me a scare. Seeing my dilemma, I froze in place, arms clamped to my sides. One sentry’s swinging arm brushed my right arm. But all kept marching, right up to their places at the tomb’s guard station.

— STU HUFFMAN, Nashville, IN