ART, Photography, TRAVEL

Neophyte Smartphone Operator

Worst Glasses Ever!

TRAVEL HERE: RESISTANCE TO CHANGE

OK, I admit it. When it comes to technology, I’m resistant to change.  My husband would tell you I am inflexible – period – but I tend to be more generous with myself.  I actually love new things and changes of scenery, but I want you to leave my technology alone.  Usually, the “improvements” and updates to my technology just deliver more woes than solutions.  You know what I’m talking about and you know I’m right!

I Can’t See This!

Vision has been one of my problems since 4th grade.  Before school began I was 20/20.  Before the school year was over, I’d been sent home with a note.  This child cannot see!  Get her some glasses. My life has never been the same!

My first glasses were the ugliest pair of cat-eye frames you’ve ever seen and my parents made me wear them until I was 16!  Finally, I got contacts.  They made it easier for me to see, but what a hassle.  If I thought that was bad, Mother Nature had another surprise for me as I aged.  My eyes got too dry to tolerate contacts, so I had to go back to glasses.  My pink cat-eye wire frames were a lot cuter than my original glasses, but I began a series of losing and breaking glasses that keeps me in hot water until today.  Lasix gave me a brief respite from glasses, but while my long range vision is still decent, I soon required glasses for reading.

When I gave up my flip-phone, the vision problem came into play.  I could read my flip phone fine without my glasses, which vanity demanded I go without as often as possible.  That darned smart phone keypad was my Waterloo.  To answer my flip phone, all I had to do was open it.  The smart phone wasn’t that smart.  I had to squint my eyes and find the right icon to answer.  In fact, I had to squint my eyes for everything.  While the rest of the world was loving all the smart things a smartphone could do, I mainly used it as a phone.  I couldn’t see anything else.

Besides, the picture quality, while better wasn’t all that great.  What’s more, it had that viewfinder screen and I’m still partial to the other kind.  I was in limbo.  I wasn’t in love with my smartphone – primarily because I couldn’t see.

My Fingers Won’t Do This!

I had another challenge when it came to smartphones.  I not only had a hard time seeing it, my fingers were too fat for it.  I abhorred texting with the darned thing, because typing was an exercise in frustration.  My fingers just could not hit the right letter.

To boot, I have arthritis in my thumbs.  All those Millennials who look so cute speed typing with their thumbs?  I’d like to see them thumb-type with mine.  They’d have a Go-Fund-Me page for the cure of arthritis in a New York minute.

Nothing Smart About a Smartphone To Me!

So big whoopee!  I had a smartphone, but all I used it for was calls and the only people I wanted to call were those for whom who I had programmed a speed dial button.  I didn’t use it to text.  I couldn’t see it well enough to figure out the other features and I sure as heck wasn’t going to use it for photos.  The pictures still weren’t all that good and I still hated the viewfinder display.  (Perhaps because I couldn’t see it?)

My first brush with smartphones did not loosen my grip on my DSLR camera one bit and you’re not going to find any pictures from it in my scrapbooks.  All that was about to change.  I just didn’t realize it yet.  Come back next week and see what turned me into a smartphone addict.

 

Photography, TRAVEL

Living the Instamatic Lifestyle

TRAVEL HERE: ACCUSTOMED TO MEDIOCRITY

My parents gave me my first camera, a Kodak Instamatic, for my 16th birthday.  Until then, I’d never been on the business end of a camera and I have the pictures to prove it.  None of them were selfies though, because if you’d have taken a picture at arm’s length, all you have gotten was your nose.

Flash!  You’re in the Picture

The Kodak Instamatic had a real innovation, the flash cube.  Up until then most amateurs made do with an old fashioned flash attachment, which used a single-use flash bulb.  So a flashcube which attached directly to the camera and was good for four photos was a great innovation.  Eventually, you could buy a flash bar with even more bulbs, but that was later.

The flash, cube, bar or bulb was quite irritating.  It made a loud pop and then a bright white light would blind everyone in your picture, leaving them with spots hampering their vision.  That’s the reason why so many people in old pictures have their eyes closed.  As soon as the flash went off the shutter opened, but not before most of us closed our eyes.

You might think with all that noise and brightness, the flashes would light up the pictures, but you’d be wrong.  In the finished photo, the items closest to the camera were too bright and behind that it was all darkness.   The results were pretty pitiful – usually a bunch of over-exposed faces with their eyes closed.  Combined with the expense of the film, it really didn’t make a lot of sense to take pictures when a flash was required, so most of us didn’t.

Accustomed to Mediocrity 

I’ll just say it.  My Instamatic photos weren’t all that great, but then again, neither were anyone else’s.  Oh, there were serious photographers using 35mm cameras, but they weren’t the norm.  A lot of folks were so dissatisfied with the whole snapshot thing they had their photos developed into slides.  Perhaps you have a grandfather or great-grandfather who turned off the lights and bored you to death with their slides.  The processing quality was better, but there were also a lot of bad slides, because your average guy was a pretty bad photographer.

My Instamatic was my only camera for years, but I really only pulled it out when I traveled alone and that was usually for church trips.  The rest of the time my dad was in charge of family photography.  For years he used a Brownie Hawkeye, which was actually a pretty good camera.  Then he moved into Polaroid, which was definitely a step in the wrong direction.

I guess I’m telling you all of this as a form of apology for all the bad pictures I took, but they didn’t bother me, because everyone else’s pictures were almost as bad as mine.  The mediocrity of the pictures actually added to the fun of photography.  Few of us really bothered with setting up a shot properly.  You just whipped your camera up to your face and snapped.  Sometimes you would get lucky.  Sometimes you wouldn’t.

Lucky or not, at the time the picture was taken, you took it and forgot it, because you wouldn’t see it until you developed the film.  There was no stopping the action to oooh and aaah or moan and groan.  You didn’t have to share it on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.  You didn’t have to text it to anyone.

What you did have to do was carry film with you and a few flashes, just in case.  This was perhaps the worst part of analog photography.  You could almost guarantee that should a really unique photo opportunity arise, you would usually miss it, because you just ran out of film.  Now all you have to do is be sure your phone is charged.

Well, I have run out of words for today, so we’ll move on to the introduction of 35mm to my life. Come back next week and we’ll chat some more about the good old days before digital photography.

 

ART, Libraries, TRAVEL

From Pressed Flowers to Photo Albums

TRAVEL HERE: PRESERVING MEMORIES, NOW AND THEN

open book on book
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve just finished up a season of scrapbooking.  I was way behind and am almost all caught up.  As my scrapbooking shelves fill up with my latest creations, I couldn’t help but think about the way things used to be.

Photo Albums Grow Up

Before there were photo albums, there were scrapbooks.  The earliest scrapbooks were actually just books that did second duty for memorabilia.  Someone would press a flower into a book or lodge a letter in between the pages and often that book was the Bible.  Or people would keep journals and insert various drawings or keepsakes among the pages.  The earliest official scrapbooks seem to date back to the late 1700’s and the hobby is still popular today.

antique camera classic lens
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Photography had a huge effect on scrapbooking.  When cameras first became available to the general public, photographs had great value.  Many people with a camera would do their own photo processing, turning a spot in their home into a photo lab.  Cameras were expensive, film was expensive and processing was expensive, so the results had gravitas.  People understood the fragile nature of photographs and they liked to share their work with others.  Those were the days of leather photo albums with black pages and little black photo corners that had to be stuck down with rubber cement.  If your family had any of those, hold on to them.  Great effort was made to use the proper materials for preserving the photographs.

Improvements were made to photography, which was both a good thing and a bad one.  Cameras, film and processing all got more affordable.  With more snapshots being made and shared, the photos didn’t seem quite so valuable.  People would just toss them in a drawer or a shoe box.  I recall wonderful times with my family, because of these drawers and shoe boxes.  The conversation would come around to some long dead relative and then someone would say, “I think I have a picture of them.”  I can’t tell you how happy that would make me.  Black and white photos would be spilled out on a table or the floor.  The next few minutes or hours are among my favorite childhood memories.

collection of gray scale photos
Photo by Fancycrave.com on Pexels.com

When I started high school, my mom invested in a large scrapbook for me and I dutifully documented the high points of my year.  The book was filled primarily with memorabilia.  Photography was in the Polaroid stage and photos, quite frankly, were awful.  It was great fun to take the pictures and show them around, but like the snapshots from your Instamatic camera they didn’t seem as valuable as those early photographs processed in someone’s dark room.

Then came the adhesive photo album.  Oh my!  How many dozens of those did you buy?  The adhesive albums were cheap, they were easy and they were a lot better than tossing the photos in a drawer.  At least, that’s the way it seemed in the beginning.  Most people used the sticky-paged albums exclusively for photos, but I was always a scrapbooker – even when I didn’t know exactly what that was.  I’d intermingle my memorabilia among my photos and often write out narratives to be included in the pages.

Scrapbooking Becomes a Thing

A company called Creative Memories set out to change the face of scrapbooking.  Plenty of people were still throwing photos in a drawer, but there were also people like me who had stacks of adhesive photo albums which were slowly ruining my photographs and memorabilia.  When I was introduced to Creative Memories I felt as if someone had come up with these wonderful products for me personally.  My next thought was that everyone in the world should be getting their valuable images and memorabilia into a photo-safe album.  It is no wonder that I became a consultant for Creative Memories.

That’s not the end of the story though, so come back next week and we’ll continue to talk about the evolution of photography and scrapbooking.

DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

My Old Brownie Hawkeye

 

TRAVEL THERE: ALL I WANT IS MY OLD KODAK BROWNIE HAWKEYE CAMERA

2008 was a pivotal year in my life.  Yes, that’s the year I finally earned my BA after a three decade educational hiatus, and that was important, but it was also the year digital won.  Our vacation that summer was a cruise to the Yucatan Peninsula.  There are two distinct types of photos in my scrapbook.  Some are those rich gorgeous shots you get with 35mm.  The rest are not – and therein lies the problem.

Digitally Challenged

See, I didn’t quite get the whole digital concept.  I hooked the camera up to my computer and told the computer that I wanted to print the photos.  I had a color printer and I’d invested in some expensive photo paper.  I saw the pictures coming out of the printer and unhooked my camera.  The problem was that I didn’t look closely at the pictures and they hadn’t printed right.  That just happened to be the day my printer decided to go on the fritz.  Each photo was overlaid with multicolored vertical lines and the printer liked the look so well that it would never print any other way.

Disgruntled, I moved on to more pressing matters.  I researched printing photos a little more and decided to try a different method.  But the pictures were gone.  They weren’t on the camera and they weren’t saved to my computer.  Thankfully I still had the rainbow striped prints.  I was almost able to convince myself I liked the effect.  Anyway, they were all the shots I had of most of our shore excursions, so they were going into the scrapbook.

I was pretty upset and made it my business to get more digital.  I let my husband explain the camera to me and I figured out the whole production process.  I was never going to create online albums, because I already spend too much time at the computer.  So I learned to download the images to the computer first, then upload them to a print site and then wait for the prints to come in the mail.  I have to do it that way, because my husband won’t let me have a color printer anymore.  I know you can take the memory card to the photo shop or download them to a cd, but if I’m doing all the downloading stuff anyway, why not go ahead and upload, too.

I Miss Pre-Digital

I learned to adapt, but I missed the old photo processing days.  I’d scurry to the store with my rolls of film, fill out the envelopes and come back in an hour or so to pictures.  It was great.  Some of the pictures were good, others were not so good, but my scrapbooks always looked wonderful when I was through.

But photo processing wasn’t the only thing I liked about film.  I liked the cameras better, also.  I’d rest the camera up against my face, squint a little bit, maybe step forward or backward and then snap the picture.  More often than not, I got just what I wanted and often enough I was brilliant.  Not so with digital.

First of all I have to hold the camera away from my face to see the display.  That means 97% of my pictures are just a little bit fuzzy.  Without the camera held firmly in place by my nose, the camera just floats around taking rotten pictures.But that’s not even the worst bit.

My real problem is that I can’t see the display.  Of course, part of that is age.  Maturity means you can’t see anything that you can hold in your hand.  When I looked through a real viewfinder, I could see what I was taking a picture of.  With the screen, I can only see a vague estimation of what might be in the picture – and that’s when I can see anything at all.

I take most of my pictures outside in bright sunshine.  I’ve invested in prescription sunglasses to overcome the far-sighted issue, but thanks to my friend the sun, I still can’t see the screen.  If the light is good enough to want a picture, then the light’s too bright for the screen.  I don’t even want to talk about when the light isn’t so good.  I can see better but not enough.

Time for a New Camera

So about a year ago I started lobbying for a new camera.  I confessed to my husband that I had stubbornly refused to embrace digital for too long and even though I was late to the party, I appreciated all of its benefits.  However, I wanted a new camera.  I knew that there were digital cameras with old fashioned viewfinders and I wanted something faster.  That lag between one click and the next drove me to distraction.

My husband’s first recommendation was to get an i-phone.  I’m not sure why he thought that was a good idea.  I’d still be waving the camera in thin air and wouldn’t be able to see the screen in bright sunlight.  Heck, he didn’t want to  pay for the phone to have internet capabilities, either.  I know about boys and toys, but this still didn’t make sense to me.  I pressed on for a month or two more.

Then one day in one of the big box stores he wandered over to the camera department.  YES!!  I was on my way to a new camera.  That’s when we discovered the gap.  You know that gap between all those cute little digital cameras priced on either side of $100 and the real cameras.  Bill recoiled from the display with a chronic case of sticker shock.  I had to wait another month.

Last Sunday we went to the camera store.  An hour later we knew more about digital cameras than we even knew that there was to know.  My love of the viewfinder?  I’d ignorantly stumbled upon the greatest shortcoming of the digital age.  And what’s more – the younger generation is having to be taught the superiority of viewfinders one youngster at a time!  I tell you, we were ready to invest in a digital camera with a real viewfinder just like I wanted.  There’s just this one teeny tiny little problem – that three hundred dollar gap between the hot pink pocket camera and the real camera.

Vacation is coming.  We know that we don’t want to risk rotten pictures of the Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood, Crater Lake, the Rogue River and the Oregon Coast with that little hot pink number.  We know the old digital camera we’ve had for the last few years isn’t going to cut it either.  I will have a real camera soon.  We just have to get over that sticker shock thing.