It’s A Digital World
In my office there’s a soft hum emanating from under my desk and the cooling fans blow warm air on my shins. The dual Xeons are putting out now, and my photos glean colors I never thought possible without film and chemistry.
Holding a bulky black SLR from Nikon and balancing it just right, I’m shooting landscape and portraits and always worrying about f-stop and film type. I am fastidious with the film roll, removing it in a dark area and placing it in its little black plastic container. Later, sometimes days or even weeks later, I start the long drive to the photo shop, putting on a bit of speed in anticipation. The odd little man behind the counter, his thick glasses betraying something devilish I just can’t quite finger, smiles when I enter. The film goes into an envelope, painstakingly filled out. The envelope is swollen now as I drop it into the box double-checking its landing and my tabs. I send another look at the man in thick glasses but he ignores me now, acting busy. The pure lack of privacy is now settling in. Knowing that the developer is not only cracking open my film but also my life, seeing my most personal imagery and thoughts. The long drive home, I focus on hope and optimism that the photos of family and friends come out just right.
The envelope is bulging, heavy with my most important moments captured in time forever. I open it up, holding my breath, praying that the few of Grandma’s eightieth came out just right. Smile, oh, some good shots in here. Frown, no, the colors on some are all wrong. An argument ensues with the odd little man whose thick glasses now display his distaste in all its grandeur. I turn and walk out, pleased and yet sad. Some are perfect and others just terrible. Somewhat weakened, I open my car door and start the drive home, going over each shot in my mind; picking out the ones for the album and those for the bin.
Above was my ‘Photo’ past. Sure, there were some nostalgic moments. But generally, I’m glad to have it all behind me.
Today, I just pick up this small, thin sliver of a device and aim, and shoot. Instant satisfaction, the image is there before me on its large flat screen to be saved, deleted or even ignored. Later, on my computers giant flat screen, I see just how it will look in print, and if it’s not good enough the delete key is always nigh. I can shoot hundreds, more even, hell, thousands!
I have room for thousands of high quality photos now, all in one sweet little device in the palm of my hand.
It’s amazing how we’ve forgotten what digital photography has done for us. The ability to capture any moment with a mini-digital camera or mobile phone just seems so natural now. Every accident, every moment is just a click away from being captured for posterity. I have gotten so used to strapping my little camera to my belt it seems I have it everywhere I go.
I have scanned an archive, mostly old photos, including the old black and whites from Grandma’s drawer. I can pull out a DVD and have whole generations documented there on a shiny little disc forever. Of course, I did my upgrades from CD to DVD, and eventually HD-DVD; I stay with the times and it has all become so easy.
At the moment, most digital cameras can produce amazing quality photographs. One must still study and do your homework before a purchase. I use a Pentax Optio A30. I also have a Sony Cybershot and an older Panasonic. All are good for those who just wish to capture a moment and aren’t worried about colors, lighting and such. I’ve found that the lens quality and size is most important, because the functionality and intuitive menus seem with most modern cameras to be similar, and simple to use. Some, like the Pentax, offer real ‘hobby-photophile’ functionality where you can do some very smart photography.
Flash levels are important too. These mini cameras have very small lenses and need lots of light to get contrast and colors right. Things to look for are lens manufacture; many are OEM’d from the big names like Leica, Zeiss and Pentax. Sony tends to use Zeiss on their high-end models and some unknown Japanese lens for their low end. The difference is very obvious and you should spend the extra ten percent for the better lens and flash.
My Optio A30 from Pentax is a ten mega-pixel camera which produces wonderfully true whites and colors. It is teeny and I can take it with me everywhere. It has a fast shutter and I have captured twelve photos in thirteen seconds, incredible for a mini digital.
Sony has very intuitive menus and is slick and reliable. The Panasonic is robust and has been dropped and bounced around by my kids so often I am truly surprised it still functions at all.
I find I rarely shoot over seven mega-pixels, and can still have them blown up maintaining good quality.
I use a couple of different options for getting my shots to print. I have two online companies that do fast, inexpensive work and the quality is surprisingly good. I can recommend HP-Photo Fish (’Snapfish’) for super fast and super cheap service. Kodak does some very good quality; though they tend to be a bit slower and pricey. The amazing thing is they all offer calendars, photo albums and more, and all at a click of the mouse.
If you haven’t purchased a digital camera, now is the time to do it. The technology is sound and produces good quality for the price. Do keep an eye out for lens quality, size and flash levels. Most market leaders have products that will make you giddy and smile at how easy you can capture the moment.
A Writers Tool
by Christopher Silva
You’ll have to pry it from my cold dead fingers…
No, I’m not talking about my gun here. I’m talking about my Mobile device. Yes, that shiny white thing I drag around with me everywhere I go. I shudder at the memory of being without it just a one short year ago. But now I’m a chic mobile toting aficionado. The envy of all at Starbucks or any other hotspot on the planet. How, you ask, have I made this genesis into the world of multi-platform, multipurpose mobile stardom? Well, just sit back and read on.
In this segment I’ll let you in on a device that will make your writing easier, help your creative juices flow and at the same time give you the air of elegant civility (jealous looks abound). I’m talking about the traveling writer’s most important the tool here, the notebook. I could spend a lot of time going over many brands and my varied experiences with them, but that would be a waste of time. I’m just going to jump right in and discuss the crème de la crème of notebooks, Apple Macbooks. Why, do you ask would he skip Sony, Dell, HP and a myriad of other popular products? Because they suck in comparison, yep I said it, suck!
I understand that the above is a harsh statement and may cause some of you to dismiss this article as lacking in objectivity. But please understand; Dell, Sony, HP and many others offer some wonderful generic notebooks for a very competitive price. These notebooks do a good job at what there designed to do, so should certainly be considered a value. But when it comes to ergonomics, style and flexibility, I believe Apple stole the show and ran off with it quite some time ago.
Let’s start with the fact that Apple Macbooks run Windows XP and Windows Vista in native mode. Yes, that’s right; native mode! Oops, first little secret slipped out and I can hear over the murmur the questions just building to a crescendo. The fact is I run Windows XP in all its stable glory, Windows Vista in its not so stable flash and most of all, Mac OS X Leopard all on one notebook. Not only can you run all these operating system on one notebook but you can also run diverse versions of Linux too.
OK, OK, (hand-up requesting calm) why the hell would I want to run so many operating systems at the same time?
Because you can, yes, and it’s cool. Please remember I’m a tech guy with tech friends working in a highly technical environment. Even my wife and kids enjoy gadgets and technology. But really, this is not a good enough reason for you, right?
Come-on, you’re thinking, what the hell do I care about multiple operating systems on one notebook? I’m a writer or something else (boring); not an engineer or some balding computer geek (not to say I’m balding, a tear trickling slowly down my cheek).
Well, the fact is each operating system has its own appealing applications. Apple has always dominated the photo and music market and has wonderful applications designed and tuned for music and photo management. Apple also has simple one-stop tool-sets for making videos, animations and working in 3d environments that for very little money border on professional. We mustn’t forget that Apple realized long ago that they needed to aggressively pursue business users and have enjoyed apps like Microsoft Office, Oracle and other critical business applications for quite some time.
Sure, I know there is more (of everything) available for the Windows platform. XP has been around for what seems like ages and there’s tons of hardware and software toys out there that just make me drool. And that’s my point.
With the new Macbook we can cross platforms and enjoy the smooth stability of the Macintosh environment and the plethora of available apps, tools, and gadgets available for the Widows environment. Best of all, both systems run seamlessly on one thin fast little device that’s a pleasure to use.
Apple has been a leader in ergonomics and these notebooks have proven designs that are very comfortable to use. There is a wide selection of devices available and you should easily be able to find one to fit your budget.
So come on! Join the club, buy a Macbook.
-This article is a shameless blurb for Apple products and the author of mentioned article is in no way affiliated with Apple or any of its good looking female employees. (He wishes).-