Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Joints and/or Things You Enjoy What a combination! Things I just like … or joints. Mostly, I don’t like my joints. They are arthritic and sore. The hips and spine especially. There are other joints of which I’m fond, but for a bunch of reasons, I won’t be posting their pictures. Where […]
Upturned Noses — Even the most laid back and egalitarian among us can be insufferable snobs when it comes to coffee, music, cars, beer, or any other pet obsession where things have to be just so. What are you snobbish about?
I’m all for equality — especially in the legal system — but.
I’m picky about computers though I’m not sure it qualifies as snobbery. My machines are big, bad, and fast. I’ve been told I’m using archaic technology. I’m not. My computers — 3 and 4 years old — are as fast and powerful as anything they are selling now. How come? Because I bought state-of-the-art, top quality computers in the first place.
Unlike the el cheapo glitzy stuff people buy, then complain it’s obsolete before they take it out of the box, mine keep up with the Joneses, Smiths, or Greenburgs. Why should I go through the hassle of transferring all my data and applications to a new, but not better, computer when the ones I own do exactly the same thing?
Who’s the snob?
I’m snobbish about cameras. Absolutely. I don’t care how many megapixels you pack into your cell phone. It isn’t a camera. It’s a widget that can take pictures. If you take a horse and teach him to walk on a leash, is he a dog? If the dog can perform a dance on two legs, is he a person? You are welcome to your opinion, but on this one, you won’t get me to change mine.
And then … there’s coffee.
I have a single, unassailable standard. It has to taste really good. If I could find cheap coffee that tasted like expensive coffee, I would definitely buy it. And, in fact, the coffee I buy is mid-priced. It’s not the most expensive stuff … but it doesn’t come in giant cans from the supermarket either. And I buy it online because I get a better price.
If I’m snobbish about anything, it’s people. I need to be around people who think. Are creative. Have ideas. Read books. Can discuss stuff. Intelligently. Who don’t talk in slogans. Who have their own opinions and don’t mindlessly parrot somebody else’s lines.
I cannot abide people who believe what they believe because “that’s the way I was brought up” or “my minister says so.” To parrot words you’ve never questioned? It doesn’t work for me.
I know what Jesus said, but he wasn’t hanging with the hoi-polloi either. He talked about the meek, but he had his own tight group of pals and never left their company.
Intellectual snobbery is the Achille’s Heel of the intelligent and educated. If pride is the ultimate sin, then I’m guilty. Pride of intellect, pride of personal accomplishment, pride of knowledge. Can stupid, uneducated people have great ideas? Maybe, but I’ve yet to see it. Hollywood loves the idea and it makes a great story.
In real life, is it true? You tell me.
I had no intention of buying a camera. I wasn’t looking for myself. Someone else was looking for a camera and I was just doing a little research.When Adorama popped up with a refurbished Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS-25 16.1 MP for under $100, I said “wow.” (There were only two at that price and both have been sold.) It […]
In the early 1990s, Garry was assigned a feature about Alfred Eisenstadt and Lois Maillou Jones, both of whom lived on the Vineyard and had been given Presidential Medals of Honor for their work. We became friends with both artists. Eisenstadt was in his early 90s, Lois Maillou Jones in her mid 80s.
I had been an admirer of Eisenstadt’s work as long as I’d been taking pictures. I shot my first roll of film on Martha’s Vineyard in 1966. I had stayed at the Menemsha Inn where (serendipity!!) Eisenstadt lived from late spring till Labor Day. Books of Eisie’s work were all over the inn. In bookcases, on tables. Most of the books featured his landscapes of Martha’s Vineyard.
I was using my first camera, a Practika with a great Zeiss 50mm lens. Great lens, but no electronic light meter. No electronic or automatic anything. It had a crank film advance. A bare bones camera with a Zeiss lens. I had half a dozen rolls of black and white film.
It was the ideal situation for a beginner. I had to learn how to take a light reading with a handheld meter. I had to focus the lens, set the shutter speed, the f-stop, and choose the film speed — though you only had to set film speed once each time you loaded the camera.
It wasn’t a lot of settings to learn, but they were and are the essentials of photography. If you can take a light reading, set film speed (now ISO), understand shutter speed, depth of field, and see when a picture is in focus — and you recognize a picture when you see it — you’re home free. Everything else is dessert.
My 50 mm lens was a prime. No zoom. It was a good piece of glass and moderately fast at f2.8. No flash, either.
If I wanted a close up, I could move closer to what I was shooting. A wide shot? Go back! I learned photography in a way those who’ve only used digital cameras never will learn. Most of today’s photographers have never held a camera without auto-focus, much less taken a reading with a hand-held meter.
Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe it does.
The camera was a gift from a friend who had bought a new camera. Armed with the Practika and determination, I followed Eisenstadt’s path around the Vineyard. I discovered where he’d taken each picture, figured out how he’d gotten the perspective, framed it.
I duplicated his shots down to the clump of grass behind which he’d crouched to create a foreground. I added a few twists of my own. I was winging it, but I winged well.
My first roll of film was brilliant — except the photographs were copies of Alfred Eisenstadt’s. He taught me photography by giving me foot prints to follow. By the time I was done with those first rolls of film, I had learned the fundamentals. I’m still learning.
When I actually met Alfred Eisenstadt, it was the most exciting moment of my life.
As we got to know Eisie better, I asked him to autograph his books for me. He didn’t merely autograph them. He went through each book, picture by picture.
He was in his early 90s and had forgotten many things, but remembered every picture he’d taken, including the film and camera, lens, F-stop, and most important, what he was thinking as he shot. He could remember exactly what it was about the image that grabbed his attention.
For example, the picture of the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square on VJ Day, he said he was walking around Times Square with his Nikon. When he spotted the dark of the sailor’s uniform against the white of the nurse’s dress, he knew it was what he wanted and shot. Light, contrast, composition.
We spent time with him every summer for 5 years until he passed. We were honored to be among those invited to the funeral. Although we were sad that Eisie was gone, we found things to laugh about. Knowing him was special and some memories are worth a laugh. I don’t think Eisie would have minded.
The proliferation of cell phones and high-end, point and shoot cameras has made everyone think they take great pictures. For some people, it’s true or close enough for folk music. Others, not so much. Facebook is the place where I am constantly reminded of how many people take awful pictures.
This is aimed at the photographically challenged. You know who you are.
First, let’s discuss equipment. No matter what you are using — cell phone or camera — it needs to be in working order. Clean lens, not scratched. If it’s an old cell you have dropped and doused, I feel safe saying it won’t take great pictures.
Ditto that old point and shoot camera that’s been kicking around your basement for years. Probably not going to give you the quality you seek.
If, on the other hand, you have a relatively new cell phone, maybe an iPhone 4 or better? Or by some miracle you have a real camera in working order? Or someone in your family has a camera you can borrow for a few hours?
If none of this works for you, consider giving up photography.
Okay. Moving on. You need light to take a picture. Flash is unflattering and cheap cameras need more light than expensive ones. You don’t need to know why, just take my word for it.
This means you should take your pictures outside in natural light. During the day. But not bright sunlight or in drenching rain. You knew that, right?
Rain is bad for cameras and cell phones. It’s the whole electronics versus water thing.
Bright sunlight creates unattractive sharp shadows and burns out highlights. It means you won’t be able to see anything in the bright or in shaded parts of the picture. Nor will there be much to see in the middle. Also, it makes people look all squinty.
Bright shade or a cloudy day will do the job.
Don’t pose yourself (or anyone) staring straight into a lens close up. Shot that way, everyone looks like a criminal. Just put a number under their face and you’re in an episode of Law & Order.
Have your subject turn slightly right or left. That includes you if you’re taking a selfie. Look at the screen and see if it’s an attractive picture. If not, keep moving the subject around until you like what you see.
Take a lot of pictures from different angles. Let your subject move around. You can move too. If you take two dozen shots and get one you truly like, you’re doing well. The more pictures you take, the more likely you are to get a few excellent ones.
When you look in the viewfinder or screen, don’t just look at your subject. Look at the background. No trash cans. No piles of rubble. You want a neutral, pleasant backdrop. Leaves, trees, grass. A wall is good too. Mostly, you want the background to not distract from the subject.
Avoid flash for portraits. It is unflattering, like full sun and for the same reasons.
If all the pictures are unflattering, unfocused, off-color, do the right thing. Delete them. No one will thank you for making them look bad. You don’t need to be a photographer to know the most important rule of people pictures:
Everyone wants to look good.
Avoid trash cans in the background. Please!
To say I’ve spent the better part of a lifetime chasing the light sounds philosophical. Perhaps, on some level, it is because I’ve done my share of looking for truth. Occasionally, I’ve even found a bit of it. More often, I’ve been chasing light with a camera, shooting up, up, up into the trees, looking for a perfect ray […]
Bad customer and technical support is the new good. You only think it’s bad. The problem is your attitude. Or so they’d have you think.
YOU CAN RUN, BUT YOU CAN’T HIDE
All the big technology companies are working hard to save a few bucks. The competition is fierce. Every penny counts. Since executives won’t accept lower pay nor will stockholders accept lower returns, it’s customers who fill the cost-cutting gap.
In the race to be the cheapest, tech companies stopped including chargers with devices. No manuals. No system software. No reinstallation software. Short power cords that don’t go from an outlet to a desktop. No connector for printers, speakers or whatever. Everything you need to finish setting up costs extra.
Customer service was the first thing to go. They hired people who don’t know anything, don’t understand or speak English. For all I know, they don’t understand or speak Spanish either. They aren’t trained, don’t know the products. And since manufacturers no longer include documentation, you don’t have the option of taking care of it yourself.
No company — not cameras, computers or software — includes documentation. I became obsolete years ago when the industry decided no one reads the manuals. So they fired the tech writers, put some generated information in an online PDF. They figured customer service techs would handle the fallout. But they don’t. Many of us would be happy to fix minor glitches but have no alternative to spending our time on the phone, frustrated and angry.
THE PLAN IN ACTION
It was so bad, it was immediately adopted by everyone. Globally.
It’s not a Microsoft problem, a Dell problem, or any company’s individual problem, though some are more awful than others and a few are notorious. It’s a cross-industry problem, affecting virtually every organization in this country.
Bad is the new good. Because good is remarkable.
WOULD IT KILL THEM TO INCLUDE A MANUAL?
Sometimes, you get lucky. The guy or gal you connect with actually knows the product and you think “Wow, that wasn’t bad! Maybe it’s improving.” The next time, it’s the same old, same old.
AMAZON – THE BRIGHT SPOT
There is a bright spot. Amazon and Audible (a subsidiary of Amazon) still have terrific customer service. That could change any time on the whim of a company exec, but for now, it’s great.
It’s no accident I shop through Amazon. They offer really good service. You have a problem, they go out of their way to make it right. You need to return something? They don’t question you, make you jump through hoops.
I wish I could buy everything from them.