The camera is dead. Long live the camera!

On Thanksgiving morning I was kneeling in the freshly-fallen snow, taking a photograph of a half-frozen, leaf-filled puddle, when I heard a soft fluttering sound and a little plunk. I looked down to see the bits and pieces of my two-year-old digital camera that had fallen into the slush at the edge of the puddle.

The face plate of the zoom lens completely fell off, as did the black plate underneath that, along with the little shutter thingies that close over the lens when the camera is off. The zoom lens wouldn't retract and the camera shut down -- possibly for the last time ever.

I am bereft. Devestated. Seriously bummed. And, naturally, the rest of the weekend was a non-stop parade of one breathtakingly beautiful scene after another.

I bought my Pentax Optio 450 just about two years ago. I took almost 6,500 photographs with it. And, while it was a pretty expensive camera when I bought it, an equivalent camera today would cost about one-third of what I paid for it then. But I sure as hell expected it to last more than 2 years!

I will send it to Pentax to get a repair estimate, but from what I've heard about digital camera repairs, it will probably be cheaper to buy a new one. Of course part of me very much wants that to be true because I would *love* a new camera.

So far the Nikon Coolpix 8400 is at the top of my short list. It's got a lovely wide angle lens that is the equivalent of a 24-85 mm lens on a 35 mm camera. It has 8 megapixels, which is probably way more than I need, and a 3.5x zoom, which is probably not quite enough. But the fact is this is way more camera than the Pentax for less money than I paid for the Pentax two years ago: it has a high-quality Nikon lens; a flippy view-finder thingy that allows you to see what you're shooting from any angle; a fill flash (one thing I really missed on the Pentax); the ability to take accessories such as filters and converter lenses; the ability to work with RAW data; more white balance modes; a wider ISO range (50-400); more long exposure options ... And I could go on (and on, and on).

It's not practical.

But, then again, neither am I.


Things I love at the MFA

It's the little things I love
Detail of a Fernando Botero sculpture on display at the MFA. It's part of the "Things I Love: The Many Collections of William I. Koch" exhibit. (Click the picture for the larger image and some funny comments on Flickr.)

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I went to the museum on Friday with my mum as part of my birthday weekend extravaganza (if you count going out to eat, going to the museum, several photo field trips, and a really nice long nap an "extravaganza").

We were technically there to see the Ansel Adams exhibit (more on that later) but we also popped in on the Koch exhibit. It's an interesting and diverse collection of objects, some of which really made me question Koch's taste, others of which were interesting mostly because it was the kind of thing you wouldn't normally get to see in person. Some examples, though I won't say which falls into what category: Robert Indiana’s famous "Love" sculpture (you know, the one from the stamp); two of Koch's yachts, one of which won the America's Cup; Dali’s Rhinocerontic Gooseflesh (1956); some Native American art and artifacts; the guns and such used to kill the Native Americans; and lots of nudes with the predominant focus on the female boob.

There's an interesting take on the exhibit and whether or not all of the things Koch loves deserve to be featured on the MFA grounds and exhibit halls, in the online art mag Big, Red, and Shiny. The author wonders: If she ever becomes famous, will her fuzzy blue baby blanket be immortalized, too? Read this article in the same publication to get an overview of the collection and the criticisms against it, as well as for an example of the best use of subheads *ever*.

Here's the Boston Globe's take on it.

There's also a great article in the Barnstable Patriot about Koch's embarrassment of riches: "Egocentric excess has never been better lit or displayed, and you have only until November 13 to go and gawk." (The exhibit has actually been extended through November 27.) The article also notes that "Koch is an honorary trustee, Great Benefactor, has a gallery named after him and ... we are reminded several times, gave 'generous support for this exhibition' and the hardcover $50 accompanying catalogue..."

Well, duh.

OK, so Koch gets to park his yachts on the front lawn of the MFA and satiate his ego, right? But, in exchange, I get to take pictures of a Botero penis.

It all comes out in the wash, you know?


Portrait-taking at the MFA

Saturday was my birthday and I spent the weekend taking lots and lots of photographs. Went to the MFA with mum on Friday (the company I work for gives you a day off for your birthday -- isn't that nice?). We saw the Ansel Adams exhibit and the "Things I Love" William Koch collection. More on that later.

One of my current photographic goals is to learn to take better portraits. It is progressing very slowly.

I took a bunch of portraits of my mum sitting by the window in the African Art room and while it looked like they came out in the preview pane of my camera, in fact they were almost all way too dark. I was able to salvage exactly one of them. It's this one:

At the museum

Naturally, it's the one with the person in the background, though to be honest I don't really mind that he's there. At least he's wearing black, so he kind of blends into the scene. The light box atop her head and the pin on the neck of the sweater are the bigger problems, I think.

I also tried some "environmental" portraits, but they didn't come out, either. I edited the shit out of this one:


And I just noticed there is something funky going on in the dark areas of this photo. I think my monitor at home is much darker than the one at work.

Things look better in the dark

Slow Night

I haven't posted a lot lately, been in more in a photo-y mood than a write-y mood, I guess. (I didn't do NaNoWriMo this year after all.) I have been experimenting with long exposures and other kinds of night or low-light photography. Most of these have been pretty unsuccessful, but I feel like I'm learning and getting a little better at it. I'm pleased with how the one above came out. But this one, below, came out a little dark (ha, ha):

Mistakes were made

Some other more and less pathetic attempts, taken over the past couple of years since I first got my digital camera:

Christie's Neon on Neon Red February Sky Night lights America is NOT too dark (but it is feeling a little blue)
Fisherman's View Lobster traps power of three Yellow skies Yellow skies again Night Sky with Boats 2
signs2 signs 400 family Untitled Bread at Sunset Sailor's Delight 3

Also, my friend kimberkit edited one of my earlier night shots for me. I like her version, on the right, much better than my original, on the left.

Tree at Night Tree at Night (edited)

I would love to get Photoshop (although I'd certainly settle for the less expensive elements version in a heartbeat).

dog tricks

The dog just seems to keep getting smarter and smarter. Her latest trick: Eating the cat food without making any noise that would give her location and activity away.

Wasn't there a Steven King book about this?

So not only am I having computer problems, but now my home phone is out of service as well, and won't be fixed until Saturday morning. How am I supposed to communicate now? How am I supposed to screen my calls? Make excuses to get out of going to the gym with Katie?

And what are the bill collectors going to think?