Jan 232012
 

We got our first digital camera when our son was born.

My father (Poppy) had always been an accomplished photographer and as Audio Visual Supervisor of Arlington County Schools had access to a great deal of professional photographic equipment. Growing up in the 70s when other families might have had dinner sitting around the TV we would sit at the dinner table with a 16mm projector watching various films, National Geographic, Jacques Cousteau, and Mr. Hemo. I got to load and run the projector, starting my long career as an A/V club geek – a role I continue to fill in our family to this day.

I also had the opportunity to experiment with a lot of different kinds of photographic equipment. I got to experience the madness of Francis Ford Coppola making Apocalypse Now in the Indonesian Jungle. Except instead of a jungle it was the woods behind our suburban neighborhood and instead of the Philippine army flying a fleet of helicopters to the Ride of the Valkyries it was me with a Super8 camera swinging from a tree by a rope. In the end it was the same thing, really.

While I had never quite achieved my father’s knowledge or experience with photography I felt that I had a decent exposure – so to speak.  Even so, we were behind the curve when it came to adopting a digital camera. These days when I take it out I laugh at our three (3!) megapixel behemoth but it provided a unique opportunity for a photographer used to the expense of buying and developing film. Now I could snap away as much as I wanted and it didn’t cost a thing!

Our son was a well-documented child. Usually photography of the second child is notably lacking but the Wife was going through our library of photos the other day for our daughter’s Student of the Week presentation and she was impressed with how much I had managed to take of her. Of course, I remember how at the time I was thinking that I needed to take a lot of her so she wouldn’t suffer the photographic destiny of the second child.

Mission accomplished but now we find ourselves with A LOT of photos – I believe the scientific measure is a buttload (bl). They still fit on the hard drive of the family computer but I picked up a terabyte drive (available at any fine Costco Warehouse) and try to studiously back them up. A brief aside, I have a friend whose apartment building burned down years ago and of all the stuff he lost the things he regretted losing more than any other were his personal photos. Backup, backup, backup – and, if possible, keep those backups in a fire safe or a location separate from your computer.

Obviously we’re still not using Ol’ Blue the three (3!) megapixel behemoth. Over the years I’ve toyed with a number of different styles of camera. After Ol’ Blue I thought it would be good to have an ultra compact point and shoot. Sony had recently come out with a credit card-size camera that fit the bill. The logic was that it would be so easy to carry I would just slip it in a pocket and always have it ready to take pictures of the munchkins. As with any such well-laid plans there was excellent concept and lame execution. I never had it with me.

What I did have was my phone. The image quality wasn’t great but the convenience could not be denied. Although a shortcoming of both the Sony and the phone was the inability to control focus and exposure. I didn’t want all the bells and whistles but I did want to be able to control the focus and the lighting. I like to frame my pictures with objects in the foreground and try to get some feeling of depth. Really hard with a point and shoot and especially hard when the primary subjects are racing around like freaky little monkeys.

Poppy came to the rescue when he decided to retire his big Canon digital SLR and gave it to me for a trial run. Now I think I’ve got a pretty good solution. If we’re travelling or going to an event that I want to bring a good camera to I’ll lug the SLR (complete with external flash) and if there’s a spontaneous moment I have the good quality point and shoot on my iPhone.

As for storing and organizing the downloaded photos I find that iPhoto works pretty well. I haven’t bothered to import all the old pre-iPhoto images but for those I use Microsoft Expression Media. Adobe has some good media management tools as well and I’m sure Windows 7 must have something but since I left Microsoft I haven’t really dipped my toes back into that whole Windows business.

One thing I can tell you I will never do is post photos of our family on Facebook. From privacy policy standpoint Facebook is a disaster and while it may be tempting (and easy) to use it to send photos of your little darlings to all and sundry I would strongly advise against it.

Caveat emptor.

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