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Shutterbug Caves, Finally Buys Decent Camera

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader


For years, Iíve wanted a decent digital camera. The first one I bought was a Vivitar, a squat, voluptuous, impulse purchase that lasted about five years or so. The next point and shoot was a Canon Powershot, a bit more streamlined than the Vivitar, but the door on the battery compartment wouldnít shut tightly. It had some fun filters and settings, but it was limited. For $80 (which is also what I paid for my first digital, back in 2005) I wasnít going to get very much.

Then, I got a fancy smartphone. I was astonished at the sharpness of the pictures, and the effects I could use. Cartoonify? Warm vintage? Green point? Blue point? Red-yellow Point? These last three would throw everything in the picture into black and white, unless there was something green, blue or red-yellow in the picture. Pow! A red maple leaf in a black and white world. It was sort of like the girl in the red coat in Schindlerís List. I couldnít really adjust the shutter settings, but there were all sorts of scenes I could choose from: portrait, landscape, sports, outdoor, party/indoor, beach/snow, sunset, dawn, Autumn color, text, candlelight, firework, backlight and night. And of course, self-portrait mode. I think that is a handy feature, because if youíve always wanted to do your own self-portraits, you had to have a mirror at the ready to make sure everything looked rightóhair, makeup, facial expression. Despite this feature, bad selfies are a scourge on the world. You can make photography seemingly idiot-proof, but there are still idiots who manage to cheat the system.

Then, while waiting in line for Millennium Force this summer, I messed around with something on my phone called Paper Artist. I canít draw very well, but you can add photos to this, and give them certain effects. I goofed around with an effect called ďcolarello,Ē a sort of hyper-neon on black paper effect. It reminded me of those drawings I used to do in elementary school. I think it was crayon on black paper with watercolors washed over it, or something like that. It was striking, like a black light poster. Iíd barely worked with Paper Artist, or even any of the effects on the camera part of it for the two years Iíve had the phone.

I also loved being able to spot some weird food offering at Mejier, or a traffic accident, or a elegantly plattered meal, and take a picture of it an upload it to Facebook. The camera was also handy for taking instant notes: a picture of something I wanted to buy, a recipe from a magazine, a simple craft project. I could take pictures of anything and everything, and I wouldnít have to worry about wasting film, or waiting a couple days to see what it looked like. It was all instant, with better quality than Polaroid.

As good as the cameraphone was, though, I longed to have a decent digital SLR. I have another photography idea, but I felt like I couldnít do anything about it, or look legit, without investing in some decent equipment. Anyone who is into photography realizes that maintaining a heroin habit would probably cost just as much. At least it did in the old days. If you developed your own film and had your own darkroom (or had access to one like I did in high school and in college) you could spend hundreds on paper and film. To say nothing of the hours spent burning and dodging prints with cardboard taped to thin pieces of wire to make things darker or lighter. It was easy to spend two or three hours on just one print alone. While I developed film and enjoyed it and could make prints, Iíd rather shoot than huddle over a negative or breathe in the chemicals the prints soaked in. Nowadays, people have Photoshop, and they can still spend several hours placing Megan Foxís head on Morgan Freemanís naked body (or vice versa), but at least they can do it sitting down with snacks handy. You kids these days, you truly donít know how good you have it.

So with this idea rolling around in my head, I thought Iíd better check out what cameras were out there. I shopped local, and dropped a few hundred, which I really couldnít afford, on a Canon Rebel T5, the least expensive of the two cameras shown to me. Iím a little afraid of it, but Iím slowly getting used to it and appreciating what it can do. One of the great things about it is the shooting data. When I flip through the pictures stored on the SD card in the camera, each picture tells me what the shutter speed was, and the aperture. So if I want to play around, I can shoot to my heartís content, and compare the frames, instead of painstakingly writing down what I did on each frame, dropping the film off, then picking up the prints later to see what happened.

Iím pleased to discover that even though itís been years since Iíve shot a camera using manual controls, I still seem to know the shutter speeds and apertures that will give me what I want. For the most part. Despite the ďidiot-proofĒ technology that this camera is packed with, Iím still going to have to play in order to get the kind of shot Iíve been wanting to create for years. Iíll get there.

But in the meantime, itís great to take some shots, and be able to see instantly how the pictures look. For an impatient perfectionist such as myself, not having to wait to see how badly I messed up a shot is great. And if I donít like it? Delete!

So despite the cost of the camera, it will probably save me money in the long run. I can shoot hundreds of frames without spending a cent on processing and developing. However, Iím sure Iíll find something else photo-related to spend that ďsavedĒ money on. Flashes. Lenses. Filters. Iíll make do with the cut-rate photo editing software I have. When the most involved edit youíve ever made was to change a pair of green balls to blue, you really canít justify buying Photoshop to indulge your juvenile sense of humor.

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