macro my day
October 10, 2007
Tom got me a camera this past Christmas, a Canon Elph SD600. He did this not only because it’s a damn fine gift, but also in part, to curtail the barrage of complaints bestowed upon him about the camera I was currently using. I was, at the time, playing around with a Nikon Coolpix, one of Tom’s cast-offs after buying his latest and greatest, a Canon 5D. Now, I hate to look a gift horse or a hand-me-down horse in the mouth, but this thing was a study in frustration. Oh, it took great photos alright, no problem there. The problem was, however, that this camera had the reaction time of a snail on vallium. I often try to capture things like, for instance, Spooky snoozing on his back with his feet straight up in the air. I’ll point, focus, hit the button and then, after what seems like a full minute, the shutter will release and my once adorable subject is now in the other room taking a cat-box break. So, about that issue and the fact that this piece of sh…equipment, never quite fit in my already bloated-beyond-belief purse, I complained, nagged and whined.
Enter the Canon Elph. An elegant, palm sized specimen, with a huge screen for viewing thumbnails. The reaction time, while not lightening fast, was a great improvement. I popped it in my bag Christmas day and there it stayed, ready for action. You never know when a photo op may present itself.
There is, however, one drawback, and it has nothing to do with my new camera. Instead, it has everything to do with the current owner and operator. It has to do with lack of experience and sophistication in the the photography department. Sure, I took a photography class in college, way back when, but that information has been tucked so far back in my grey matter, it’s quite out of reach. This has not dulled my passion for photography though, and I tend to live vicariously through Tom, who is a fabulous photographer. My zeal for photography not being matched by my ability often causes me to grasp for shots way out of my range of expertise. This usually results in blurs, streaks, disembodied arms and legs, and the backs of folks walking away in disgust. When my attempts fail, and they do often enough, I poke my lip out a mile. This is Tom’s cue to step in and give pointers and some ego propping.
“Just keep shooting all the time.” He tells me. “You won’t get any good at it if you don’t keep trying.” So I do. I try.
Lately I have become enamored with a little thing called the macro mode. This mode allows you to get really, really close to the subject. It creates a very short depth of field. You focus in on a particular part of the subject, then the background and surrounding area gets knocked out of focus. This creates a kind of arty effect. It’s cool. I pull off some fairly interesting shots doing this. At least I think they are.
Using the macro mode, I’ll take extremely close-up photos of bugs, pencils, kitty noses, my breakfast, and the miniature toys that inhabit my desk.
As cool as I think this is, my feelings are not shared by everyone. Some of my friends and family members think I’m being a dweeb. I get a lot of eye rolls as I smoosh my camera up super close to my thumb or a piece of toast.
A couple of weeks ago, we attended my niece, Chelsea’s 18th birthday party at Buca di Beppo. After many failed attempts to capture candid shots of all the party goers, I found myself resorting to the macro mode once again. I held the Elph up very close to a lovely chianti bottle. You know the ones with straw bottom. Great curves, great texture, I thought. I rocked the camera back and forth, trying to find the just the right angle.
Just then, Cole, one of Chelsea’s friends, asked me with a voice laced with amused ridicule, “What are you doing? You can’t get up so close. Tsk.”
“I know what I’m doing.” I said with patient confidence. “I’m in macro mode, ya know.”
The look he gave me matched the tone of his voice. He was not convinced.
“Watch” I said, a little more smug this time. I was going to prove to someone around here, that I wasn’t completely lame. “Watch what this macro thingy can do.”
I put the camera close up against the curve of the bottle, took a few moments to find just the right angle, and refocused. I glanced over at Cole. He was still watching, chin in hand, half asleep.
“Watch.” I said.
I hit the shutter release. Click, FLASH!
The flash went off in my face, almost blinding me, and causing the image I had just taken to become completely washed out.
“Dammit.” I hissed. “I forgot to turn off the flash. You see, if you…..” I looked back over at Cole, who had, by this time, turned around to chat with Chelsea. I had lost my audience of one, and any chance at credibility that night.
I tucked the Elph safely in my purse for the night.