PHOTO TECHNO CRISIS

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I was playing with a camera this morning, trying to capture flowers in the morning light. In the middle of this artistic endeavor, I had a minor, yet memorable techno-crisis. It is a classic example of the kind of problems that beset us because of the technology on which we depend.

I’ve been taking pictures for more than 40 years. I know my way around a camera.

My first cameras were mechanical. Film. I took a lot of rolls of black and white because I could develop black and white film. A lot cheaper than sending it out to a lab. I also did my own printing, mounting, and framing, though I’ve completely forgotten how.

Olympus PEN PL-5

The only electronic part of those film cameras might be the light meter. My first half-dozen cameras didn’t have built-in light meters, so I used a Weston Master V. It was a standard part of my equipment for years. If I forgot it, the piece of paper that came with Kodak film was a pretty good substitute. We affectionately called it “the paper light meter.”

A while back, I bought a handheld meter almost exactly like the one I used for so many years — and realized I had no idea what to do with it. It has been a long time.

Pentax Q7 plus lenses camera

Cameras might break and need repair, cleaning, or adjustment, but basically, there wasn’t much to go wrong. As long as you didn’t drop it, soak it in salt water, or spill coffee in it, it could last forever. To prove my point, there are a surprising number of these old film cameras still in use.

There weren’t many moving parts: shutter, film winding mechanism. You set film speed (ISO), shutter speed, f-stop. Aim, frame, focus, press the shutter. Voila. Photograph.

Today, my camera wakes me in the morning and starts the coffee. If I ask nicely, it will do the grocery shopping, though it draws the line at laundry. Not really. But close enough.

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If something goes wrong, it’s crazy time.

This morning, I removed the lens cap and turned the camera on. I unlocked the lens. The menu came on, but no picture appeared. Flashing on the screen was something I’d never seen before. Without a clue what it meant, I double-checked to make sure I really had removed the lens cap. I had.

So I did what I do with my computer. I rebooted. I turned it off, waited, then turned it back on.

More flashing. No picture.

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I removed the battery and the memory card, counted to twenty. Put them back. Still flashing. Still no picture.

By now, I was in full panic mode. My camera wasn’t working. Fear gripped me. Eventually, it occurred to me to check whether or not the lens was properly seated.

Click. The flashing stopped. A picture appeared. The lens had been loose. I must have accidentally pressed the lens release button, so it wasn’t quite locked. Ergo ipso, the camera wouldn’t work.

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With all the ridiculous, useless functions built into modern cameras, how come they don’t have anything that alerts you that the lens is loose? Or for that matter, that your battery is about to die? The next time someone is adding bells and whistles to the software, please consider adding something useful. If necessary, remove one of the many pointless menu options and add something we might use.

I felt like a moron. Then, I took some pictures.

A place to rest …

Messing around with the camera this morning, trying to capture the morning light and in the midst of my artistic endeavor, I had a camera crisis. This story is entirely apocryphal and has nothing to do with the pictures. It is, however, an example of the kind of problems that result from the technology we all use in our daily lives.

Olympus Pen EP-3

I’ve been taking pictures for a long time, more than 40 years. My first who-knows-how-many cameras were mechanical cameras and used film. I did a lot of work in black and white because I could develop my own film. I also did my own printing, mounting, and framing,  though I’ve totally forgotten all of that now.

The only electronic part of the camera was the light meter, and my first half-dozen cameras didn’t have built-in light meters. I used my handy-dandy Weston Master V for years and got wonderful pictures. I still have a handheld meter, though I don’t use it more than once in a very long while.

Cameras did break and might need repair, cleaning, or adjustment, but basically, there wasn’t that much to go wrong. As long as you didn’t drop it, get it soaked with salt water, or spill coffee on it, it might last forever. There weren’t many moving parts: the shutter, the film winding mechanism which was nothing more than a mechanical wheel. You set the film speed (ISO), shutter speed, f-stop. You aimed, framed, focused, then held your breath while you pressed the shutter. Voila. Photograph.

Today, my camera wakes me in the morning and starts the coffee. If I ask nicely, it will do the grocery shopping, though it draws the line at doing laundry.

When something goes wrong, it’s crazy time.

This morning, I removed the lens cap and turned the camera on. I unlocked the lens (my Olympus Pens have retractable lenses that have to be extended before you can take pictures).

The menu came on, but no picture appeared. Flashing on the screen was something I’d never seen before. Without a clue what it meant, I double-checked to make sure I really had removed the lens cap. Sure enough, I had.

So I did what I do with my computer. I rebooted. I turned it off, waited, then turned it back on.

More flashing. No picture.

I next moved to telephone mode. I removed the battery and the memory card, counted to twenty, put them back in. Still flashing. Still no picture.

By now, I was completely panicked. My nearly new expensive beloved camera wasn’t working. I cannot begin to express the fear that gripped my heart. Finally, I checked to make sure the lens was properly seated.

Click. The flashing stopped. A picture appeared. The lens had been a tiny bit loose. I must have accidentally pressed the button that releases the lens, so it was not fully locked in place and the camera would not work.

With all the hundreds of functions built into the camera, how come they can’t have something to tell you that the lens is loose? Like in a car when a door isn’t fully closed? I felt like a moron. Then, I took some pictures.

What dreams may come?

This is my favorite. I played around with a few different combinations of filters to get the effects I wanted. It’s our bedroom.

I love our bedroom. I love our bed. It is peaceful room and although it is cluttered, it is also incredibly comfortable. I keep the blinds nearly closed so the light doesn’t wake us in the morning and also to protect the dolls from sun.

Perchance to dream …

The dolls on the shelf are my movie stars, historical characters, plus some authors. You may spot James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart up there. There are two John Wayne figures: cowboy and cavalry. My husband has Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe on his dresser. Good choices.

Under the window is my modest collection of carved geese and ducks, with a strong emphasis on loons. Have I mentioned how much I love loons? The sound of loons calling across a lake in Maine is one of the most beautiful sounds in nature.

The next pictures I take, I’ll make sure the lens is seated. Gee whiz.