A picture is better than no picture

It’s so easy to say you don’t like someone’s picture.

When you don’t like a picture, can you honestly say why you don’t like it?

If it were something very obvious, something technical like focus, exposure or camera shake, it’s easy.

Contrasting reactions—I had to sneak my Point-and-shoot Powershot G3 inside church during a First Communion ceremony. It was well worth it. The contrast in reactions between father and mother when their daughter dressed all in white walked down the aisle says it all for me. Obviously I shot without the flash in available light. ISO 400 1/30 sec @ f2.8

What if there’s nothing technically wrong with the picture?

What if it’s just the choice of subject?

That’s when I often grapple with what to say.

In that instance I have to step back a moment and ask so what if I don’t care for the choice of the subject in that picture.

Spontaneous & ever ready—Moments like these happen when they happen. By the time you find your digital SLR, mount the right lens, it may be gone. My kids play very nicely together and I’m so blessed they are that way towards each other. This is one of my favorite pictures of them.

“It may be meaningless to me, but very significant to the person in the picture or the person who took the picture?”

My buddy Ted Kulesa told me his pictures from his childhood were mostly poor quality and were on polaroids.

Ted’s a dear friend and I love the guy like a brother.  I do think a bad picture in those instances is better than none.

I happen to have just a picture in mind to help make my point.

Take a look at the  picture below.

Yes, it’s a picture of yours truly. But you wouldn’t know it by the composition, huh?

I barely made it into the picture, didn’t I?

The picture was taken on March 18, 1980.

“I have no recollection of who took the picture…” Actually I had to look up the date on my pilot’s log book.

And “I don’t talk like that.”  That’s my impression of how politicians talk when they’re caught lying.

Terrible picture, isn’t it?– You can’t always impose the same aesthetic standards to every picture you see. A masterpiece to you may not be something someone would even take for free, that’s why.

Actually as bad as the picture is, I’m thankful I at least have it.

The occasion was my very first solo flight on a two-sitter trainer Piper Tomahawk whose callsign was RPC-1070 at an airstrip south of Manila in a small town called Canlubang in the Philippines.

What can I say about the photographer other than “Thank You?”

Those of you wondering what I’m doing half naked standing in an oil drum, here’s the lowdown.

Tradition called for pilot trainees who had just completed their first solo flight, a milestone for any pilot, to be carried from the cockpit and dumped into an oil drum which is filled with you-don’t-what-to-know-what.

And part of the ritual was that I had to completely immerse myself, head and all, into that liquid. Calling it “water” would be incorrect. When it was all said and done, I was handed a bottle of Coke, presumably out of pity.

It was a milestone because until I had successfully solo-ed, my flight instructor treated me as sub-human, all part of the “training.”

My favorites

My favorite pictures are always very personal.

They are mostly family-oriented pictures.

They mean something to just me and quite possibly, no one else.

So far, they’ve been pictures of my kids taken during vacations.

And I’m not even using a fancy camera, just my point-and-shoot camera.

If I’m proud  of them , it’s only because technically I was able to capture the image exactly as I saw it, without the hassle of toting a big digital SLR.

Come to think of it, if I had my digital SLR, I might have missed the shot.

Running like the wind–My kids tear up the cyclone exhibit at San Francisco’s Science Museum. Captured with my good old Canon Sureshot G3.

We’ve all been there. Walking around a theme park like Disneyland, Sea World or Legoland bogged down with a heavy camera body, 2 or  3 lenses and a flash.

Silhouettes-by-the-sea—I had my digital SLR in the car but I reached for my Point-and-shoot when I saw this scene unfold. I would have missed it if I had to grab my digital SLR. There’s something to be said about ease-of-use versus quality sometimes.

You might be enthusiastic on your 1st hour, but by lunch time, you might not even want to hold the camera up to your face.

All the images were taken with my trusty Point-and-shoot camera. I’m  itching to get the latest version the G11, can you tell?

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2 thoughts on “A picture is better than no picture”

  1. Jo,
    There is absolutely nothing wrong using an old camera. After all, the best camera is the one you have with you.

    Actually I think you might be very surprised how well you do when you get your prints back.

    That reflex to “chimp” is difficult to resist. If you’ve been taking pictures a while as you have, I’m certain you will be fine. Not having the ability to see instantly isn’t that scary if you think about it.

    If you’ve ever tried night photography where you have to use a tripod, you’ll realize it takes longer to take pictures because the process of setting up forces you to carefully scan all the corners of your viewfinder instead of just firing off frames indiscriminately.

    I loved the calendar, Jo! Thank you so much.

  2. This is so true. The perfect is the enemy of the good. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

    A few days ago, my camera fell to the floor (a very hard stone floor) with a terrible crash. I have to send it to Delhi to be repaired (fingers crossed).

    In the meantime, our children are all home for the holidays – the first time all are together in two years. NO PICTURES???? Not possible.

    I actually do not own a point and shoot, so I have resurrected my old non-digital SLR and am trying to remember how it works. Film! What a reflex action it is to check the screen after taking each shot!

    But I have re-discovered the joy of anticipation – that exciting moment when you drop the roll of film off for developing and then count the days till the photos are ready. And while I know they won’t be as good as they would have been with my fancy Canon, I agree with you Peter: a picture is better than no picture.

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