A Tale of Two Roses

Okay, it’s really a tale of two technologies, but that doesn’t sound nearly so cool, does it? I’ve been discussing on my podcast* from time to time that I’ve become very aware of the difference between taking photos with my phone vs. my “real” camera. Since we’re talking technology, I’ll get specific. For my phone I have an LG V30. It’s supposed to have a great camera and for the most part I like it. The most annoying aspect of it is that it tends to focus on the background on close-up shots, for example, of my Blue Girl rose. Even if I put it in manual mode and focus on the rose, it likes to focus on the background.

This is about the best I got after several tries. It’s pretty enough for Instagram and so forth. But the photograph is far from optimal.

Now, my camera is a very nice Olympus digital camera, E-620, that I’ve had for a dozen years. I even have a telephoto lens to go with it and a tripod. I used to use it all the time. But you all know how it goes – the phone camera is so much more convenient, I have it with me all the time, it’s easier (fewer steps) to post to the internet. For quite a few years there, I let the Olympus languish with very little use.

But, check this out. This is the same Blue Girl rose, taken at the same time and at close to the same angle. See the difference in crispness? And it’s not just the focus, which is hella better. See the difference in the richness of the color, the detail on the petals? You can even see the droplets of rain on the petals.

I thought this side-by-side test was super compelling, so I’m resolving to use my Olympus more, to the point of dragging it along on vacations and so forth.

Some things are worth it.


*By the way, I so appreciate all of you sending support for the podcast and paying writers. Buying my books and sending a bit of money my way, as so many of you have been doing, has made my heart grow three sizes. Seriously.

Why I’m Tired of the Bitching about Smart Phones

11_5_2015I got this photo the other day, as the winter storm approached in the early morning. So dramatic.

Taking photographs is fun for me, and I think I’m getting better at it. Most of the time, however, I don’t work at it very diligently. These days it’s mostly an “Oh look at that – I should get a picture!” What I’d really love to learn is videography. (I keep thinking about getting a video card for my camera. I really should.) I have a couple ideas in mind for videos I want to make.

Right now, the one I really want to make would be in response to the one floating around Facebook with the clickbait title “If this doesn’t make you put down your phone, nothing will.” I don’t want to link to it because it annoyed me. Yes, yes – the bait worked and I clicked. It was one of those video poems with a guy rapping about how focusing on your phone means you’ll lose your friends. It shows a person looking at their phone while sitting with three others, then the other three disappear and the person is alone.

So sad, right?

There are lots of memes and rants on this subject. There’s another floating around of a group of teens all looking at their phones while walking down the street with the caption “the real zombie apocalypse.” Or people snap pics of a group in a bar, all looking at their phones and bitch about how social interaction is disappearing.

The thing is, this is a self centered view.

It’s all people outside looking in. Of course those teenagers look like they’re zombies from the outside – because their focus is elsewhere. That doesn’t mean they’re not interacting socially. In fact, I’d argue that their social circles are wider, more complex and varied than ever before.

This is what my video would show.

A group of people is sitting in the bar. They pick up their phones and send out messages. One tweets a photo of the group. Another texts that photo to an absent friend. Two others post to Facebook a funny bit of the conversation. As people reply, they appear at the table. People from The Netherlands, from Malaysia, from Antarctica. The friend too sick to leave home appears, joining the group. As people comment and reply, they manifest. The table becomes crowded with everyone, tens, hundreds, even thousands of times bigger than it appeared to the observer.

That group of teens walking down the street looking at their phones? They’re a mob of talking, laughing, highly engaged people from around the globe.

That family looking at their phones? One is texting her mother that grandma just mentioned an old quilt she used to love and maybe something like that would be a good birthday present, while another is sending a photo of grandma to their cousin in Germany.

People looking from the outside in have no idea what’s going on. Less judging, please.

Kind of a good credo, all around.