Friday, February 9
Friday Cheap Politicizing of Cat Blogging
So for her birthday my Poor Wife wanted a new camera, a second stab at entering the digital age. The woman takes a huge number of pictures. Our dining room is somewhere under them.
After no small amount of research (mine) we agreed on the new Panasonic LX2, which, don't get me wrong, is not a camera I'd buy; I can't abide those teeny tiny things. We agreed it was the camera for her. I even dragged her to three camera stores to try to interest her in a DSLR; with each visit she chose progressively smaller cameras as her favorite.
My wife does three things with a camera. She takes compulsory snapshots of people so she can look at them later, when they're not around. She takes photos her drawing and painting classes can use as models, mostly plants and garden scenes, and sometimes cats or something else that strikes her fancy, as I once did. And she photographs student artwork, mostly for making slides.
It is, so far as I know, impossible to convince her that she needs at least two cameras for that stuff, and three would be better. After generations of having advertising hurled at them daily from morning alarm to late-night starlet interview Americans are simply incapable of believing that all design is a compromise. The Panasonic had one distinct advantage: it has a 16:9 aspect ratio (same as widescreen teevee; I think its predecessor the LX1 was the first digital to do so) and it gives you a 16:9 aspect through the viewfinder as well. My wife likes those panorama shots, and I have to admit that 16:9 is very cool.
Naturally, I'm the guy who winds up reading the manual, which runs to 135 pages, reminding me that during the Second Punic War I engaged in film photography after learning 1) the inverse square law and 2) what film speed numbers meant. I offer this as another rebuke to the Pangloss Theory of Economic and Technological Progress: now, in order to have a simple camera that doesn't require learning anything about before you take pictures, it is necessary to learn more than you ever needed to in the days when people found real photography too much trouble to learn. So after finding the requisite aftermarket items around town I started taking fully automatic snaps with the thing this afternoon so I could advise my wife and show her some samples. Naturally the cats were handy, and naturally the delay between shutter release and actual exposure which is a hallmark of those damned little ($400) toys resulted mostly in shots of them moving out of frame. Total crap shoot. (The compromise on the Panasonic is that it's even poorer than its cousins in low-light settings, and I'm allergic to flash photography.)
After about two hours of trying I got the out-of-focus shot of Larry, above (yeah, he's just about to take a swing at me), tweaked the shadows a bit in Photoshop, and presented my wife with the sample when she got home. She was completely bored by the technical aspects of my presentation (yeah, it came as a shock to me, too) and wanted to grab the camera and snap some pics. I showed her how to turn on the flash and what the automatic setting looked like, and then she cornered Larry, clicked the shutter, and the little red light came on, and I started to explain that she'd never get a good picture because of the delay, and as I'm saying this in my I've-got-the-answers voice the goddam cat decides he's going to yawn and the flash catches him at its peak. With raised paw, just to rub my nose in it. That's the first picture she took with the thing. I'm thinking of letting the little bastard escape tomorrow.