This Shiny, Foreign Object

July 27, 2008 at 9:39 pm | Posted in Self | 2 Comments

I may very well be one of the last of my generation to get a digital camera.  At first, I took the moral high road.  I claimed I wasn’t going to give in to technology and that my 35mm worked just fine, thank you very much.  But then I realized that I had amassed only about 45 pictures since 2002.  I envied my friends, who had close ups of wild flowers on their blogs and kooky self portraits sprucing up their Facebook pages.  And I had been deeply remiss in documenting my dog’s antics and quiet moments on the couch.  There was only that one picture of him wearing a pink tank top that I had put on a disc and a couple from one of those disposable cardboard things back during his puppyhood. 

The turning point was when I silenced a group of about 20 co-workers and management folks at a conference table when I said, “I don’t know how to use a digital camera.”  The whole room went dead quiet, and every single head turned my way.  My boss, who was at the other end of the table started giggling nervously.  I said, “No, really.  I don’t.”  He briefly looked startled, then just looked down at his hands. 

But objects with lots of shiny buttons and multiple cords tend to intimidate me.  I finally said “fuck it” and dragged my husband to Best Buy and randomly picked ths sporty, slate blue number based on some vague details I remembered about pixels and modes. 

I didn’t touch it for about a week although Homeboy claimed to have mastered it after 15 minutes of fiddling around.  I always read instruction manuals, and this time was no different.  But this little document confused me.  It had simple instructions like “press menu” and “turn camera on” in three languages, stacked one on top of the other.  I’d read and understand the English instruction, then my eye would catch the Spanish.  Not realizing that I was reading two different languages (sometimes my brain doesn’t differentiate between the two), I did everything twice.  But only with the most basic mechanics of the camera.  Nowhere does it teach me about the million different flash options the camera provides nor does it tell me with any hint of specificity exactly what is so “easy” about the “easy mode.”

I could probably research these things on the Internet.  I feel confident that I too can master an object that even toddlers (well, perhaps only the most precocious) can use. 

But actually snapping the shutter and taking a photo that isn’t all blurry seems to be beyond me.  Just about 97% of my photos look like I’ve taken them while experiencing a rather fierce episode of the DTs.  What in God’s name am I doing wrong?

The other 3% of the photos that actually look like they were taken by a sober person are all of my dog.  Leo’s coat has never looked so glossy and his countenance has never looked so noble as they do in my close ups. 

I hope that one day the rest of my photos don’t look like I took them while hanging out the window of a car doing 35 mph.



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  1. I hear ya. I can´t even work the damn remote control to my television. SCIENCE SUCKS.

  2. I got my own digital camera last December, so I know what you mean. I think I am the last person on earth not to have a camera in her cell phone too, little Mayan grandmas in huipils have camera phones, not me! I also automatically read the Spanish and English on stuff, especially on menus. I find myself thinking, but this is almost the same dish, and then realizing what I am doing. I was really confused in a restaurant that had the left in Spanish and the right in English until I realized what was going on.

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