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24 Apr

Going digital – Today’s entry is not going to be a typical journal entry. In fact, it has more to do with the Imagery section than the Journal section—instead of writing about writing and things like that, I’d like to write about photography. Not that I know the first thing about photography, mind you, but this past week I got a brand new digital camera for my birthday, and I’m very excited about it. I’m not going to write much, but I’ll make up for it with some nice photos from my new camera. For those of you who believe that a picture really is worth a thousand words (and for those of you who just want to see the pictures instead of read about them), here are seven thousand colorful words.

“I can run outside, shoot some photos, run back inside, slap the memory card in the reader and presto—there are my pictures.”

My new camera is a Canon PowerShot A80. It’s nice and compact, and it comes with more functions than I have been able to wrap my brain around so far. I tried messing around with some of the manual modes (it has shutter-priority, aperture-priority, full manual, the works), but as I don’t really know what I’m doing yet, these photos didn’t come out too well. Fortunately, the automatic modes work very well, and they allow amateurs like me to take some nice photographs.

I’m most excited about the close up mode (I think that’s probably what it’s called in English, but I’m not sure). It is fully automated, which means I just point the camera at something, zoom in a bit, press the shutter button halfway so the camera can focus, and then take the shot. It’s actually so easy it’s almost embarrassing—I kind of feel that I should have to work harder to get something that looks even halfway decent.

Another feature that I’m psyched about is stitch mode. I haven’t gotten a chance to try it out yet, but according to the manual it allows you to take up to 26 consecutive adjacent photos, and with each photo the LCD screen shows you how it overlaps with the previous photo, making it easier to line them up so you can stitch them together later on.

This is my first digital camera, and it’s the first camera I’ve ever used that isn’t just point and shoot (never mind the fact that all I have been doing so far is pointing and shooting). With our old camera, I could take a couple dozen shots and maybe get one that I really liked. Of course, photography is not just about the equipment. I can have a really nice camera (like the one I have now), and I can still take poor photographs. There is an artistry to photography that includes things like choosing the right angle and framing for a shot, and I won’t pretend to have any skill in that area. However, it sure helps to have good equipment—hopefully with this camera I’ll be inspired to improve myself in the artistry area, and maybe someday I’ll have some photographs I can really be proud of.

The digital aspect of the camera is also a big change. With my old analog camera, I would have to take the pictures, finish the roll, get the film developed, scan the photos, and then fix up the inevitable dust that got introduced during the scanning process. It was a very time-consuming and tedious process, and it would sometimes take me months to get Imagery galleries up (part of that, of course, was my laziness, but it doesn’t help when it’s that much of a pain in the neck to put a gallery together).

Now, however, I can run outside, shoot some photos, run back inside, slap the memory card in the reader and presto—there are my pictures. My wife and I tagged along with her parents today when they went tree shopping, and I took the opportunity to take a bunch of close up shots of flowers. When we got home, I plugged the hot pluggable USB reader into my computer, put the memory card into the reader, and was able to see my pictures right then and there. On the same day that I took them.

I was so excited that I ran outside, took a few more pictures, then ran back in and was able to see them on my computer screen not five minutes after I had taken them. I was so excited, in fact, that I did this several times—run outside, take pictures, run inside to look at them, lather, rinse, repeat. It didn’t hurt that the pictures looked about a hundred times nicer than anything I ever took with our old camera.

But the switch to digital means more than just a really fast turnaround time. I will confess that I have long wanted to abandon the point and shoot cameras in favor of something that would allow me to be a little more artistic—namely, a camera with manual functionality. One of my friends got a manual analog camera last year, and I secretly envied him as he walked around campus snapping pictures here and there. Everyone started referring to him as “the photographer.” I wanted to be a photographer too, but I was intimidated by the huge leap from automatic to manual.

Enter my new digital camera. Sure, I won’t tell you that it’s not still pretty intimidating, and I honestly have only a vague idea of what the manual modes are about, but that’s OK. I can take photo after photo after photo, and if I don’t like them I just erase them. No going to an expensive photo shop (because you know the cheap places are just going to massacre your artwork), getting the film developed, then looking at the negatives to see which ones you want to print. If I wanted, I could fill up the entire memory card with different versions of the same shot, just to test out different techniques, and it would cost me nothing.

My wife works near City Hall in Seoul, and she tells me that these days she sees a lot of people walking around with digital cameras and practicing their macro shots on the spring flowers. The digital camera has lowered the bar for photography, especially manual photography. I imagine that there are some photographers out there that groan at this thought (much like the reaction of many web designers to WYSIWYG web editors), but for me this is a good thing.

All these changes also mean changes for Liminality as well. Up until now, all of my Imagery galleries have been organized by event (mostly trips I have taken). I will still take trips, of course, and post galleries of pictures taken during these trips, but the digital camera has freed me from the rigid concept of a “gallery.” Before, it was very unlikely that I would go outside and snap a single shot, and then want to put that single shot up on my website. Photographs were more of a “special occasion.”

Now, though, I can take pictures whenever I want and “develop” them immediately. I can also take two dozen shots trying to get the perfect photo, and when I finally do get that shot I’m going to want to put it on display here. The idea of set galleries is not very conducive to this. To be honest, I’m not really sure what I’m going to do yet. I do know that the idea of a closed gallery is a thing of the past—I may start a gallery with just a few pictures, and then add to that gallery as I go along. I may even end up dividing my galleries into travel/event galleries and “artistic” galleries. I really don’t know yet. I guess that’s something I’m going to have to think about.

Well, I said I wasn’t going to write much, but you knew I was lying when you started reading, didn’t you? When I started writing this entry I had thought that I would just slap a few pictures on at the end, but I think I’m going to link to them in an “open” gallery. Because I’m experimenting, this gallery is going to be called “Experimental”. I’m not going to link to this from the Imagery page—not yet, at any rate—but you will still be able to get to it via the links on this page (or you can just remember the URL).

So, without further ado, I humbly offer you Experimental. Time to let the photos speak for themselves. (Don’t forget that you can click on the pictures for larger versions.)

Note: When I first posted this entry yesterday, the gallery was entitled “Experimental #1”, and the link pointed to a directory called “experimental1/”. I have since renamed the gallery to simply “Experimental” and also changed the directory name to reflect this. All links on Liminality have been changed (I think), but I just wanted to note the change here on the off chance that someone bookmarked the gallery sometime between then and now.

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