Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I've had about sixteen ideas for blog posts in the past three or four days. I can't remember a single one of them. Obviously they weren't very interesting after all.

So I think I'll write about the reasons I don't have a digital camera.

First of all, I am occasionally a tightwad, and when I have 3 perfectly good (okay, 2 perfectly good and 1 that died, mysteriously ressurected itself, and cannot be trusted not to die again) cameras already, why would I buy another one? Yes, it might be cool to upload pictures onto my computer and send them to family and friends instantly. But I don't have kids yet, so I'd be sending them pictures of what? Cowboy and myself cooking supper? Woooo, that's exciting.

Second, I like not knowing instantly if a picture I took will turn out or not. There's that tinge of mystery, the suspense of wondering if I've gotten a brilliant shot of that old ramshackle barn. The anticipation when I drop the film off at my one-hour photo developer, and have to wait to pick them up. Or, back when I was actually the one working in the photo lab, the joy of feeding little cartridges of rolled-up secrets into the developer and having them come out as long curly strips of memories, then sliding them into the printer and watching them turn into tangible images.

Also, taking pictures with a digital camera takes away some of the magic, some of the art and spontenaity. How often haven't people I know taken a picture with their digital camera, looked at it, then said, "Uh-oh, we need to reshoot that, so-and-so blinked." And they end up taking nineteen more shots, by which point most non-camera-lovers want to strangle them. With real film, you take two shots, and pray one of them turns out.

Third, I love the noises my 35mm cameras make. It's like my attachment to my old computer keyboard. I have this ancient keyboard that came with my parents' first computer, a 386 or something. It makes lots of noise. When I type, it clicks, kind of like a typewriter actually (I remind myself of "that nut that's in love with his typewriter" from You've Got Mail sometimes). This keyboard doesn't make the swanky swooshy noises of modern clacks and clicks and taps. If I type fast enough, it almost sounds like percussive music. It's so old I had to get an adapter to hook it up to my newer computers, but I refuse to replace it until it dies. Anyway...back to cameras....

My Kodak PaS (Point and Shoot) makes a particular winding noise that is like an old friend clearing their throat when they just wake up in the morning. I've had that camera since I was about 11--it's just a cheap thing my parents got me for Christmas, to replace an earlier even-more-elcheapo camera that went kaput (sometime I'll tell you about the related Sault Ste. Marie Camera Tragedy). I've dropped it, sat on it, taken it to Ukraine where it got fogged upon...I don't even remember how it got the scar on its lens cover. But this little junky Kodak PaS takes lovely photos with really devine colors. And I can load it with my eyes closed. And it makes that winding noise.

Gabriel, my first SLR (Single Lens Reflex), is the one that died back when I first started this blog. Then when we moved here, he magically came back to life. He makes cool noises too, especially when he focuses for me--it's a zeeeeeet zeeeeeeeet sound, and then he chirps when he's satisfied with the focus. When the shutter closes, it makes a satisfying chuh-chuh-chkkkkk.

But the coolest-sounding camera I have is Marlowe, my Chinon SLR I picked up at a pawn shop when I thought Gabriel was no more. He's fully manual, which means I have to do all the focusing myself, and also that its easier to control his aperture and shutter speed, at least for me. He makes that fantastic loud chk-CHK noise that I always associate with "real" photographers. Also, he smells like old mechanical things.

Digital cameras are too sleek for me, too stylized. They're an accessory, not a tool. It's like stilletto heels versus sneakers. The mystery and enchantment of wondering what that shot you just took will really look like--that's gone. And it's too simple to manipulate digital photos. Sure, you can center things, crop out unwanted intruders, fix red demon eyes...and what else? Fix your hair? Shed a few photo pounds? Whiten your smile? The possibility to lose truth is just too great for me.

This is not meant as a slam on any of my friends or family members who own digital cameras. I love the pictures I get of my neice and nephew, of my friends's kids, etc. This is just an explanation of why I do not personally at this time own a digital camera. Who knows? I may get one in the future. I've been known to change my mind, after all...


  1. I have a digital camera but I can't find my cord that goes with it. Uh oh, hope I find it soon.


  2. You'd better find it! Now that you've moved home (and headingto England may be in the works, I hear?), you need to send ED and I lots of photos of your adventures!


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