All The Dumb Things

A cautionary tale in development

Happiness is a nice camera. Acinipo, Spain. 2009

Posted by razzbuffnik on March 20th, 2010

For my wife, Engogirl, an interest in photography started as an act of retaliation to my photography. Let’s face it, photography is a crap spectator sport. My wife is as close to perfect as one could hope for and she indulges me in just about any way one could wish for, but watching me photograph things was beginning to pall.

I sensed Engogirl’s frustration in having to wait around for me to take my shots, so when I bought my SLR, I gave her the little compact camera that I’d been using to keep her amused.

Engogirl isn’t afraid of technology, as a matter of fact she actually likes reading instruction books (what’s that all about?!), so it wasn’t long before she was off and taking her owns shots. At first, I think doing something with a machine was what Engogirl found more engaging than the resulting images. I don’t think the images were as important as having something to do. After a while Engogirl discovered the pleasure of sharing her pictures with me. Luckily for me, my wife has a good eye and it was a joy to see her images improve over time.

By the time we went on our trip to Europe last year, Engogirl was really enjoying taking her photos, but then a fly settled in her ointment. Engogirl discovered the short comings of her camera. How come her clouds were all blown out and mine weren’t? How come, my shots had better colours than hers? Why was I able to get shots she couldn’t?

As technically minded as Engogirl is, being an engineer and all, she wasn’t all that interested in educating herself in yet another discipline. The idea of humping a big heavy SLR with a few lenses around with her all the time didn’t appeal either.

About one and half months into our trip, my wife’s camera started to play up. Many shots were coming out with thick magenta stripes through them. By this point, Engogirl wouldn’t dream of going out for the day without her camera, even though she was becoming disenchanted with it’s lack of capabilities. I though this situation was a good opportunity to lure my wife further into sharing my love of photography. I mentioned that I thought it was a good time for her to upgrade to a better camera.

Engogirl said, “but I don’t want to be lugging around a heap of gear like you”

Me: “We’ll get you something that is smaller”.

Her: “But it’ll be crap like what I’ve already got”.

Engogirl had a point. Most smaller cameras are aimed at “happy snappers” who would have a brain aneurism if they had to think more that a nanosecond before they took a shot. I then remembered my friend Paul raving about his Canon G9.

Paul is a card carrying, grade “A”, gear freak.

You name it, if Paul is interested in it, he’ll research the hell out of it and buy the best thing he can afford. I respect Paul’s opinions about equipment, be it photographic, camping, cycling or woodworking. So I suggested we get the G9 for Engogirl. We were in Nimes in France at the time and we went into a camera store to get the G9 but it was out of stock because it was discontinued ( I found out later that the G10 which followed the G9 wasn’t a very successful design) and the new model G11 was coming out soon.

“How soon?” We asked.

“A few days, would you like us to order you one?”

Nice try, sales guy, but unfortunately we couldn’t hang around and wait. So every town we went to, we’d check to see if the G11 had come in. Every time I took photos when Engogirl didn’t have a camera, I felt guilty. I even went so far as to hand her my camera to take photos with (no greater love), so she felt like she was getting shots of things she found interesting.

It wasn’t until about two and half weeks later that we were able to find a shop in Lisbon, Portugal that had the new G11.

What can I say? Other than my wife is totally thrilled with her G11 and now is actually interested in printing out some of her shots. 

As for me, I’m constantly amazed how my wife’s photos are so different from mine. We often take photos in the same places but they couldn’t be more different.  I often take very wide angle shots because I’m interested in context, narrative and interaction, whereas Engogirl is into recording detail and objects. Often when I see my wife’s shots, I find myself thinking to myself, “why didn’t I take that?”

So together, we’ve got a very broad record of our trip together.

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15 Responses to “Happiness is a nice camera. Acinipo, Spain. 2009”

  1. Pat Coakley Says:

    Oh, I love love this portrait of Engogirl! She even appears to have her G11 in her hand as she turns playfully, but steady on her feet at the edge of this vastness. Her sweater and pants are even the same landscape colors so that sky has no competition. And, those sun glasses are just that bit of the cherry on top! To think…this lovely portrait by the bastardo who answers my camera question of someone 10 years your senior with a lecture on lifestyle!!?? Oh, I might just get on a plane to down under so we can have a portrait smackdown. I do yours along the line of Charlton Heston in “The Ten Commandments” just before he parted the Red Sea, he chastized his flock with a his arms wide open, “Who shall doubt the power of God!!”. Earlier he’d said, “Ten times you have seen the miracles of the faith and STILL you have not faith!”

    Yup, you’d have to drag out your robes from under your bed where you keep your machete!!

    http://www.strimoo.com/video/15204332/Moses-Parting-The-Red-Sea-par-Alejandro-MySpaceVideos.html

  2. razzbuffnik Says:

    Pat

    It is a nice shot of Engogirl, even if I do say so myself. It really captures her joyful spirit and she does have the G11 in her hand. As for the machete under the bed, I keep telling you, it’s a one and half handed bastard sword kept in the corner of the room.

    Sheesh! Time for you to get on with learning new things like photographic terminology to exercise that muscle in you head. Use it or loose it!

    Great clip by the way. They don’t make them like that anymore….. thank goodness. What a bunch of hams!

  3. Sandra Says:

    Wow!!! Nice pic…..I liked it.

  4. Robert Says:

    Hey, thanks for this, I have been having my eye on the G11 and it is good to get this confirmation. I am still not happy with the small zoom (I love to take shots of faces from a distance, you know, when people are unaware, lost in their thoughts…, and the 12X zoom I have now suits this well), but it may still very well happen that I will go for it.

  5. Donald Diddams Says:

    Great photo, razzbuffnik. I’m always a sucker for a well executed wide-angle shot, and the charming woman pictured is frosting on the cake! Love my G11, by the way…

  6. razzbuffnik Says:

    Sandra

    Thanks for dropping by and the kind words.

    Robert

    No, worries! One of the really nice things about the G11 is that the LCD screen can be flipped out and you can hold the camera in unusual positions (like above your head) to get shots. It’s a great little camera in low light conditions (good inbuilt image stabilisation system) and for taking photos unobtrusively as well.

    Donald

    Thanks. That’s no “charming woman”, that’s my wife! Of course you love your G11, it’s a top little camera.

  7. planetross Says:

    I would never consider myself a photographer, but I’ve come to like taking photos. … probably definitely to feed the blog.
    I’ve had a Canon IXY 2000IS for a year or so now. It’s fine: I don’t like to think too much.
    I can deal with limitations: I’ve been doing it all my life. hee hee!

  8. razzbuffnik Says:

    Ross

    I think that far too many of us get caught up in the “gear” thing. The main thing is that your camera does what you want.

  9. Tony Says:

    It’s all a bit techo for me. I’ve got a little Pentax Optio E60 which has more controls in the menu than I can understand. I am a point & shoot without a brain type person. I generally only use my camera or my phone/cam when I want a photo to put into a blog post. Glad Engogirl is happy with her new piece of technology

  10. Joost Says:

    @Razz: RTFM is the well-known initialism “Read the fucking manual”, but for Engogirl the initialism RTNM (Read the nice manual) much better applies

  11. razzbuffnik Says:

    Tony

    If I ever go down to Tassie again, I’ll drop in on you and give you some lessons in Photoshop.

    Joost

    Engogirl loves manuals, and she’s the one who’s always hassling me to RTFM.

  12. Joost Says:

    Razz, here’s another citizen who loves manuals :) And for me, most manuals are not written in my mothertongue but luckily in English, ’cause Dutch translatings are sometimes poorly translated. But if you want to take better pictures, and do more with your camera, please follow Engogirl and read those fucking manuals of your camera, maybe you will loves manuals too :) I say it with a laugh, with a manual a world will open for you.

    Joost

  13. Turkish Prawn Says:

    Great post and one I can identify with.

    Growing up, photography was a really big deal amongst the men in my family. My Father, Grandfather and uncles (why just the men, I have no idea, but there you have it) all had big SLR rigs which were toted all over the place. Traveling as a family, we must have looked like a dispossessed band of LIFE Magazine photographers. As you can imagine, I was elated when I finally graduated from my little 110 point and click to my first 35mm. It’s a steel body Minolta from the fifties and I loved it with a passion. Eventually, I got up the the full 35mm SLR with twelve pounds of lenses just about the time film died out and digital took over.

    Action Girl has never been pig on photography… until last summer when she discovered my dusty and mostly forgotten Cannon Rebel. Since then, she’s been asking me questions that I have long forgotten the answers to and getting me thinking once again about getting that DSLR that sounds so tempting. Maybe I can get her to split up the lenses with me when we travel, so I don’t have to lug them around all by my self? Yah… right.. ;-)

    Turkish Prawn
    (Sorry to have been gone for so long. I’m back…. again.)

  14. Turkish Prawn Says:

    Gah! I mean “BIG” on photography. Not “pig.”

    Must… proof…. read!

    -TP

  15. razzbuffnik Says:

    Turkish

    It was my grandmother who was the first shutter-bug in my family.

    The first SLR I bought was a Minolta SRT 303 (it was called the SRT 102 in the US).

    My mother caught the photo bug back in 1988 during the world Expo in Brisbane and over the years her love of photography has reignited my step-father’s love of photography. He hadn’t been interested in photography since the 1960s. Nowadays, my parents spend their free time snapping in botanical gardens and wildlife sanctuaries.

    So, unlike your family, it was the women in my family that were into photography.

    I think you should tell your wife that load bearing exercise is good for women to fend off osteoporosis and she should carry all the camera gear instead of you…… because it’s for her own good…..

    really.

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