I Love Weddings

I went to my high school friend’s wedding today. It was held at a country club, a serene retreat protected from the surrounding busy streets. The bride’s gown was absolutely beautiful (I really wanted her tiara too), and even the bridesmaids’ dresses were lovely. I love weddings. They’re so romantic, and the whole day is full of life, love, and laughter. I’m honored and glad that I got to be part of my friend’s first day of his new life.

The reception was really nice, though I’ve never been to a wedding reception that wasn’t nice. However, I always dread the dancing portion of wedding receptions. I’m really self conscious and stiff when I dance (and I’ve never slow danced before). I tried to sit and watch most of the time, but I was dragged onto the dance floor a couple times. No one made fun of my lack of skills, so it turned out okay.

The one thing that bothered me today was that many of the pictures I took with my camera didn’t come out as well as I would have hoped. I expect good pictures from a 12.1 mexapixel camera (from Sony, of course), but rarely do my pictures come out with crystal clear clarity. Maybe it was the lighting, or maybe it was my using the automatic settings.

Perhaps a camera is only as good as the photographer using it. After all, a bad workman always blames his tools, right? Oh well. I got some good pictures of the ceremony (it was outside and sunny), but some of the later pictures at the reception (indoors, after dark, sometimes fast action) were subpar. I wonder if I should have gotten a Canon (gasp!).

Seeing my high school friends today felt like another reunion (like yesterday). One of my friends who I hadn’t seen in eight years has already been married for a year and is finishing medical school in two weeks! There are days when I compare my (bad) luck with love (and life in general) with others’, but today I was genuinely happy to see my friends and catch up with them.

Thanksgiving Graduation

Graduation was fun. The ceremony was pretty short; it only took about an hour. The pictures my friends took of the ceremony are not very good, but it’s completely the fault of the distance from the stage and the lighting of the auditorium. I guess my camera takes some blame as well, since I chose a smaller, cuter camera over a more powerful camera that could take professional pictures by having much more zoom and stronger flash. I did get some good pictures of me with my friends after the ceremony, so it’s not a big deal. I also had the obligatory professional graduation photos taken so that my parents can buy them and feel less guilty for not coming to my graduation.

Today is also (American) Thanksgiving. It’s just another day in Canada (I’m pretty sure schools in the US don’t hold graduation ceremonies on Thanksgiving), so it’s hard to find a good turkey dinner. Instead, my friends and I went to Swiss Chalet for dinner. For the last three years (this year makes four), I have gone to Swiss Chalet on American Thanksgiving. During the holidays, they offer a “Festive Special,” which upgrades the usual “Quarter Chicken Dinner” with stuffing, cranberry sauce, and a small box of chocolate truffles. Even though I didn’t get turkey, chicken is almost the same, and the stuffing is my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal anyway.

Megapixels Aren’t Enough

I walked around more of the city today (different parts from where I walked a couple days ago) to take pictures, but I didn’t like the majority of pictures that I took. I’m not sure if it’s me or my new camera, but many of the pictures just don’t seem sharp enough. The pictures usually look fine on the LCD screen on the camera, but viewing the full size on my computer is sometimes blurry, or at least not as crisp as it “should” look.

Not that I really know what the pictures “should” look like up close. I’ve never had a camera will so many megapixels before, so I don’t really know what I should be expecting. But at 12.1 megapixels, I should be able to make a very large print and not see much blurriness. Even if the picture looks good as a 4×6 or even 8×10 print, I still feel like my picture quality should be high enough to give me the option of printing larger.

I did like the pictures I took a couple days ago though. On that day, I mostly took pictures of buildings and other still objects. The difference today was that I was taking pictures of animals (which move a lot, often very quickly). I guess I’m just not good at taking pictures of objects that move.

So maybe it’s not my camera that is causing my pictures to be blurry. Maybe it’s my poor picture taking skills. All those megapixels aren’t enough to make up for my lack of skill.

My graduation is tomorrow, so I hope my friends can take better pictures with my camera than I can. I’m sure my family would be pretty upset if I didn’t have really nice pictures to show them.

A Bad Photographer

There’s something I missed in yesterday’s post. In addition to everything I said yesterday, I also want to practice taking pictures. I did get a new camera for a reason.

When my parents and I visited my grandfather and my second cousins once removed (thanks Amy), I got to take some pictures of my relatives. I thought some of my pictures turned out a little bright, while my parents thought some other pictures turned out too dark (even though I thought those pictures turned out just right).

My dad tried explaining how taking the picture at an angle will prevent flash from reflecting back toward my camera. I was a little upset by that and I gave a short “I already know that” response. Maybe it was because I was already in a frustrated mood, but I really didn’t want to hear about how my pictures aren’t good. I already think I’m a bad photographer; it’s even worse when someone else thinks I’m a bad photographer.

When I take pictures of people, I tend to focus on the people rather than the background. My relatives wanted a particular painting to be in the background of one of the pictures, but they didn’t tell me that until after I took the picture. How am I supposed to know to put the whole painting in the picture if no one tells me?

It’s my fault anyway. I should think more about angles and flash and background when I take pictures. The only way I’ll become a better photographer is by learning and properly practicing. Part of learning is taking criticism with a positive attitude, which is hard for me when I’m moody.

I wish I was less moody. I hate myself when I’m in a bad mood. Sometimes I let my emotions take over, and I end up with a short fuse for no good reason. I really need to work on that, but how?

Anyway. My original point was that I need more opportunities to practice taking pictures with my shiny new camera, and I’m not getting very many opportunities because of all of the time I spend studying. I’m going on a short trip in ten days though (to attend my graduation ceremony for my masters), so I should have plenty of chances there!

A New (Cam)Era Begins

My new camera arrived today!! It was supposed to be another two weeks until it shipped!

For those of you in suspense, which is maybe one person, I bought the Sony W200. I decided that if I am going to have this camera for at least five years (like my last one), I should get a really good one. Not only that, but I also got a great deal on it by buying through Dell. First rule of shopping: never pay full price. As for the Canon SD850, I didn’t really like it when I saw it at Best Buy. It’s not as small or as shiny as the Sony W200 (I like shiny things – I’m like a cat). It’s also not as Sony (brand loyalty strikes again).

Unfortunately, the battery that the camera comes with wasn’t charged, so I have to wait FIVE AND A HALF HOURS for it to fully charge. That’s just crazy. I’m all excited to play with my new toy (though I’m still riding the high from my last new toy – my mini coffee maker), and I have to wait for the battery to charge! Oh well, c’est la vie. It’s not like I have anything in particular of which I want to take a picture. Yet.

My old camera only had a 256MB Memory Stick, but my new Memory Stick PRO Duo for my Sony W200 is going to be 4GB! I was going to go with a 2GB one, but there was a really good deal on Amazon, so I upgraded. It should be arriving any day now!

Since I (finally) have a new camera, it seems fitting to celebrate the life and times of my previous camera, the trusty Sony P7. With just a 256MB Memory Stick, I have taken over 9000 pictures with it since receiving it as a surprise Christmas gift from my parents in 2002. I really wanted a camera that year (I had never had a digital camera before then). After all the festivities of Christmas were over, my parents took me aside and gave it to me. I don’t think it was wrapped, but I was completely shocked and overjoyed. There’s a picture of me holding the box with one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever made.

My Sony P7 has been to six states in the US (I’ve only ever been to nine or so), one province in Canada, and even to Taiwan. It has been with me through my last two years of college and all three years of graduate school. It’s been reliable until the very end. It will be very hard for my new digital camera to live up to such a legacy.

Camera Shopping

I’m in the market for a new digital camera. I’m in the market for a lot of things, which is funny because I don’t currently have a job. Anyway, my current digital camera is five years old (I got it for Christmas from my parents in 2002), and while it’s fine most of the time, it can be a bit glitchy sometimes. For example, it might take a movie instead of taking a picture, and the flash takes longer to load than it once did. So, I’m trying to find a new (better) camera.

I enjoy photography, but I’m not a very good photographer. I like artsy photos, but my pictures never turn out artsy. My photos are just photos, rather than “good” photos, if that makes any sense. I have some friends who take fantastic photos, even with point and shoot cameras, but I have no idea how they do it. Even though I’m not good, I still like taking pictures, so I like having a decent camera with which to practice.

When looking up reviews of cameras online, I found the same sorts of differences that I found in reviews of the coffee maker. Some sites would say a camera is mediocre or god awful, and other sites would say the same camera is the best camera around. I’m pickier about cameras than I am about coffee makers, so I have to pay close attention to all the reviews. It’s pretty difficult.

Besides being picky, I’m also immensely loyal to brand names. I get it from my dad. Almost everything that my family has that could be Sony is Sony. My current laptop is a Sony, and my previous three computers were all Sony. All the TVs in my family are Sony, including a TV that is older than me (and still works!). My current digital camera is also a Sony. Because of this brand loyalty, I’m again looking into Sony digital cameras. My brother’s current digital camera, however, is a Canon (gasp!). He seems to like it, so I am willing to consider Canon as an option.

At first, I was looking into the Sony T200 for its ultra-compactness and 5x optical zoom, but the touch screen controls are a little confusing. That’s definitely not good for when I ask other people to take a picture with my camera. Now I’m looking at the Sony W200. It looks like really high quality in a small package. While I like higher optical zoom, I don’t want a big camera that I would find cumbersome to carry everywhere. The comparable model I’m looking at is the Canon SD850, but it still seems like the W200 is still a little better (I might be biased).

Another direction I could take is a slightly less powerful model, like the Sony W35. I could buy two W35s for the price of one W200. I’m sure the W35 is already significantly better than my current five year old camera. I can’t decide!