Monday, September 27, 2010

The Surprise Camera (Daily Photo 9.27.10)

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Had a minor incident today. The digital camera I've been using all year, and have been enjoying for years now -- a simple but fun and not-bad-quality point-and-shoot -- died. Specifically, the LCD viewscreen died. For no reason whatsoever, as I was viewing pictures the screen went stark white and has not displayed any picture or menus since. I thought maybe plugging it into the Mac would help jog its memory, or pressing some buttons, or removing the battery, but no attempts to revive it have succeeded so far.

The strange thing is, it still takes pictures just fine. I just can't see them. The camera doesn't have a viewfinder (most point-and-shoots don't these days), so I can't see through the lens as I shoot, either. And I can only guess at the zoom level or the other photographic settings because I can't see the menu. So I can snap pictures but I won't know what they look like until I plug the camera into the laptop. Nik called it the Surprise Camera.  It's almost like taking film pictures again.  There used to be a time, kids, when you took pictures and had no idea what you had until you developed the film.


I took both of today's pictures by setting it blind, aiming the camera in some direction, and firing.  It's sort of an interesting experiment, shooting by guesswork and seeing what comes out later.  I love the convenience of digital cameras, but I also can't stand it. Digital cameras make it so fucking easy to take a picture. Anybody can take a shot that belongs in a museum, because cameras today seem too perfect.  If you use them properly, they'll figure everything out for you, but that means you'll never get any happy accidents. My camera, when it was fully functional, had settings for every lighting situation imaginable, and most of them did a decent job with almost no input from me.  No thinking involved.  If I was taking a sports shot, I could set it to take sports pictures.  If I was taking a portrait of someone, I could set the camera to "portrait" and let the computer figure out how to make the picture look nice. Landscape at night? Set it to "night landscape." I spent most of my time purposely turning it to totally wrong settings and taking shots to see what kind of pictures I ended up with, hoping for surprises. Now I'm forced to do that.

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