Saturday, October 13, 2012

Say Cheese!

I've been a shutterbug since the first time I picked up my Mom's little Instamatic, sometime in the 70s, and took over the photo-snapping duties at some family gathering or another. I don't think I ever gave that thing back, either. It had those funny rectangular flash attachments that you clicked into the top of the camera, and every time you took a picture, one of the bulbs would pop, until they were all used up and you replaced it with a fresh one. (So NOT environmentally irresponsible...but it was hip at the time...right up there with velvet blazers and, apparently, shiny dress shirts...oh, Dad...sigh.) I pretty quickly figured out that not only was it loads of fun to capture the action on film (the potential for goofy or embarrassing shots being oh-so-high back in the old-school "every frame gets printed no matter how stupid you look...or how much your thumb is blocking the viewfinder" days), but also you got to tell people what to do...and they actually obeyed you! "Go stand over there, straighten your shoulders, now smiiiilllle!" I'm sure it made me absolutely giddy with power.

Instamatic: Mom and Dad, sporting their disco-era finery
Eventually I grew up a bit, hoarded my high-school babysitting money, and chose my first 35-mm: a Ricoh with a separate telephoto lens and a detachable flash unit that you had to slide into its socket--AND remember to turn on--when you wanted to utilize it. I lugged that thing absolutely everywhere, for over 20 years, as a matter of fact, until I finally dropped it--not the first slip, but as it turned out, the final one--on some concrete while shooting Fall foliage at a nearby lake. I mourned a little...but the brief sadness quickly gave way to rejoicing, because now I had a perfectly legitimate reason to buy a brand new camera! Whoo hoo!
Ricoh: the Roman Coliseum, circa 1991
But I found myself facing a dilemma--the entire Universe had converted to digital technology, film was fast becoming an anachronism...what was an old-fashioned photography buff to do? After much soul-searching, wringing of hands, pulling of hair (okay, maybe not those last two) I decided I just couldn't convert yet--at least not 100%--and went with a film-style Nikon. And it produces beautiful images...especially when the subject remains perfectly a beachscape or a nice, cooperative...mountain. However, when someone--your son, for instance--is sprinting up and down a soccer field, or climbing a tree, or leaping into a swimming pool...not so much. Thus I ended up with a second Nikon, of the digital variety, and so patted myself on the back for fully entering the Modern Age of Photography.
Nikon N65: Harper's Ferry, WV
Or at least that's what I blissfully went about believing...until we were at the final Orioles home game a few weeks ago and I was busily clicking away with my little Coolpix to chronicle our fun day at the stadium...and a guy behind us (older than me, I should note...indignantly!) chuckled and quipped, "What's that thing in her hand?" I stopped for a moment, temporarily at a loss, then noticed that all around me, my fellow fans were also taking pictures....with their iPhones or whatever other "smart" device they had. Ahhhhh, I get it. Now, I could do that, too, but the results are much better when I use my "real camera"...because I get them printed, rather than just instantly uploading them to Facebook...oh, never mind, I'll admit I'm a dinosaur in this particular case--and I own it. At least I'm a photo-snob, artistic throwback, right? (RIGHT? I'll pretend you all agree with me. Thank you...)
Coolpix: Billy Goat Trail
And really, if you want to feel old and out of touch, who better to help you than your children, yeah? Case in point: the other day Derek, my beloved 7th grader, queried me out of the blue, "Hey, Mom, do you have an Instagram account?" "Um...noooo?" I answered. (Unsure if this was the acceptable response or not, which was made abundantly clear by his follow-up...) With perfect seriousness, and not one ounce of irony whatsoever, he asked, "Why not? (pause) Don't you want to be cool?" Oh...dear. Of course I do! Dang it, now that's something else I have to figure out (mutter grumble sputter). So at my earliest convenience (the next day--no sense putting off these troublesome tasks--I mean "valuable learning experiences") I applied myself to my phone to master the App. (Which incidentally should have taken approximately 10 seconds, but was made infinitely more challenging by the fact that Google for some reason stubbornly insisted that I was using my previous phone. No wonder I attempted to download 6 times, yet never could find the stupid program. Ah, technology. It's okay; I eventually won.) And now I can say (with pride? chagrin? relief? clearly I have mixed feelings at this point...) that I have joined the Instagram World. Something else to play with...when my Nikon(s) is/are at home!
Instagram: immediate gratification!

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