Sunday, September 21, 2008

About a Purchase

(I know the below post is monstrous and needs huge chunks of it edited out, but if you read the last paragraph, then you'll kind of know why the above pictures fit, sort of. My subjects weren't as cooperative as I'd hoped. )

While it's fresh, let me expound about a purchase that's consumed me--consumed my emotions, my wallet, my REM--you name it.

The idea of buying an SLR digital camera has been running circles in my brain. There's only so much spare cash laying around (at least at our house), and for months I've been putting away our extra funds to save for hardwood floors. But hardwood floors are expensive and it was taking forever to get there, which is a good thing because it gave me time to realize that I'd rather spend money on something that will give me lasting satisfaction, something that could develop and grow. Hardwood floors are still a want of mine, but they've been put on the back burner since our carpet is less than a year old, my husband doesn't care at all whether our floors are hardwood or not, and it is mostly a cosmetic desire. I figure my writing could be that much more if combined with some creative photography. That's my big idea, anyway.

So, I decided I'd rather have my SLR first. I was so excited about my decision that my heart immediately started racing and I jetted for the Internet to start researching what camera I wanted and could afford. My, oh, my was I in for a research project, and I hate researching a potential purchase! I just want to buy, buy, buy. (Scary, yes.)

First, I had to find out what in the heck SLR stood for (single lens reflex) and then I had to decide what on earth I wanted, and to do that I had to get schooled in vocabulary like aperture, ISO speed, telephoto lens, prime lens, zoom lens, dust reduction, exposure, autofocus points... you get the idea. Although I started as a photo major in college, much of the lingo left my brain long ago.

Then I had to decide if I wanted a Canon or a Nikon (this was after I decided that I wanted either a Canon or a Nikon rather than a Pentax or another brand of camera). I had to decide if I wanted to put my money more in the lens or more in the body (the lens). I could only really afford one lens; do I get a prime lens or a zoom lens? Thankfully, I took my husband's good advice and asked some photog people for help. I'm so glad I did that because their help was tremendous. I shy away from phone calls and asking advice sometimes, and I'm so glad I got up the courage to just ASK. And I'd recommend that to anyone wanting to buy an SLR because there are SO many options out there.

And then there was the urgency. I made this grand old decision a week before we left for Hawaii, and I was completely determined to have it in my hands before we took off. Didn't happen. Oh well. Our Alaska Airliner hit the Hawaiian runway with me SLR-less. After kicking the sand time after time and grumbling about how I wish I had my SLR (Look at this sunset! Ah! Look at those Lilly pads. Oh my gosh, Maggie would look so beautiful posed on that L-trunked palm tree! Sigh. Kick. Sand. Harder. Sigh louder.), I coveted every fancy shmancy camera I saw.

Not that I would have known how on earth to creatively photograph all the magnificently beautiful photo ops I was finding, but I could have at least used the dummy settings. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to vacation in Hawaii again sometime. With our collapsing on-the-brink-of-another-Great Depression economy, I somehow don't see that happening again as soon as I'd like...

But back to this purchase and how it's consumed me. I read and reread a photography book on our trip, totally enthralled. My anxious heart started pattering when we touched down in Seattle at the conclusion of our vacation. First thing the next morning I was off to the post office to pick up our mail that I'd put a hold on and to pick up my treasured package. I had to stand in line for nearly 45 minutes! First it was an old lady who was being picky about what stamps she was buying. She didn't like how any of them looked. They're just stamps, Lady! I felt like shouting. Of course, I didn't do that; instead, I started worrying about my package somehow being lost in the mail, and I began hearing my heart thud even louder in my ears. After some complications (the postwoman telling me my mail was nowhere to be found and that she just needed to make a few phone calls), I finally had my package in hand and dashed out into the rain and back into my car. I nearly, very nearly, opened it right then and there.

I didn't open it in the car, and although I was tempted to ignore the other errands I needed to run and just race home and tear open the package, I responsibly went to Wal-mart and the library (to pick up another photo book) and finally headed home. I opened up my package with Will close by (it's been so sweet and cute to see him so excited for me, and I'm beyond grateful for all the time he put in helping me research--such a lovable guy) and I looked at it and was almost scared to touch anything, but I did, and then I promptly put it away because for some reason I wanted to look at it privately and figure out how to get it going all on my own. And so I fed the kids lunch, put my baby down for a nap and then headed to my corner of the office. Bella sat right by me, but I didn't mind. And then I got things rolling and took some adorable shots of her, and she actually wanted to be my little model because the camera looked so cool to her. It was as satisfying as melted chocolate to tongue, my finger to the shutter button, listening to the musical click.

I spent a good portion of that night reading and re-reading my manual and getting a painful jab to my ego when I put the camera in manual mode and managed to take some pictures that were indecipherable on my LCD screen. Where was that Understanding Exposure book again? Apparently I don't understand exposure because I was taking pictures that looked like mud and a red light was flashing in the corner. Back to basic mode I went and had fun discovering what I could do there.

There you have it. Who would have thought 1000+ words could come so quickly from the writing prompt, "Write about a purchase." All I can say is I love learning and I love, love my camera and I can't wait to take my first creative photo: my little girl sitting in hundreds of crumpled newspapers with my fake black-rimmed glasses crooked on her little nose as she peers over the fold of newspaper she's pretending to read. It's in black and white, and it'll sum up me and my loves in this adventure I'm beginning: words both read and written, time captured, creativity unleashed.



  1. click! i totally did that same thing. in fact this camera was supposed to be my new couch!! as jessica told me when i first got my camera, welcome to the obsessive, expensive, all time consuming world of photography!

  2. That was the best thing to read....I can so relate, and it's exciting to have another thing with which I can relate to you!! Isn't it so ADDICTING?! I read my manual all the way through once on the way to SLC--nice three-and-a-half-hour trip to read everything in there. Sometimes I re-read it and every time I see something I forgot or somehow missed.




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