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Leveling Up

Posted by Dirck on 18 August, 2014

This entry has a foundation of sadness; bear with it.  The tone eventually lightens.

I started collecting Air Miles in 1992, with an eye to one day getting a cheap ride to Europe.  In 2011, Air Miles announced that they were putting a five year limit on the collected points, and that they were going to do away with the points that had been previously hoarded were going to be expunged on New Years Eve of 2016.

Sorry, I used the wrong word there.  Let’s replace “hoarded” with “carefully husbanded”.  Or, perhaps, “thriftily maintained”.  Since 1992, there have been several times when I’ve thought, “Gosh, I sure would like some consumer goods which I can’t currently afford.  Say, I could turn some of my many Air Miles into shiny toys….  No.  Vade retro, Satanis!  I’m hanging onto them so we can go on a nice European vacation when the time is ripe.”

Well, as of the start of this year, I had enough points to get me and my wife to Europe.  But not my son.  I had put in place an online saving account not long after the dire announcement to try and build up the money needed to get him over as well and see us in food while there.  Because, as low as the household income is, I comprehend thrift and saving (something I suspect is common, despite pronouncements of rightist politicians, to a lot of low-income households).  All well and good, right?

We now come to the real vexing matter.  I know I’ve complained previously here about the supposed “boom” economy my home province is enjoying.  People are making more money!  Prices go up, letting retailers in on the flood of money!  A golden age!  Unless, of course, one isn’t employed in one of the industries (which we may lump under the heading “Resource Extraction”) the boom actually touches.  Like me.  I have been getting raises, certainly, linked to the cost of living.  The national cost of living, and using that strange economists’ notion that since you have to pay for food, shelter, and fuel, those items shouldn’t be included in an accurate measurement of increases in the cost of living.  The result is that as of the start of this year, I had to stop putting money into that vacation account to pay for food, shelter and fuel, and about a month ago I had to throw the entire sum in that fund at the credit card which was starting to be pressed into service of those same non-countable items as cash reserves went away before payday.  Huzzay, the Boom!

We are nearly at the end of the tale of woe.  Having dumped the money that would make the vacation possible, and having no way of regaining that money (because I’m not quite willing to sell all my remaining pens and my car for what is, rich as it might be, a passing pleasure) prior to the deadline for most of my Air Miles short of a lottery win which would make the need for free airline tickets rather moot, I muttered “screw it” and gave into the long-suppressed temptation to make those points into consumer goods.

Last Monday, a delivery man appeared at my house, bent double under the weight of Air Miles given form.  Among the many carefully chosen and (hopefully) durable items was a rather good camera.

I’ve done it again, with the wrong use of words.  I meant to say, A Rather Good Camera.  Shall I name it?  A Nikon D3300, which is not top of the line by any means but is orders of magnitude more camera than the point & shoot items I’ve been using since even before the advent of digital.  While it may not provide the same satisfaction as watching my son frolic at Madurodam or keel over in a fit of glee during a visit to a British heritage rail line, there is a certain glow to knowing that if one is in a picture-taking mood, one has a damn good tool to grasp.

DSC_0057How good?  Well, have a click on the image to the right here, for a full size gander at it’s power of close-uppery.  That’s without a tripod, and obviously without any real attention to lighting.  It is the mere result of a passing whim, in which I sought instant answer to the question, “so, how’s this thing for close detail?”  I didn’t even do anything clever with the aperture setting, nor did I take manual control of the focus;  just threw the dial over to “macro” and snapped.  It is, I say without taking any possible praise onto myself, a pretty good picture for all the lack of effort applied.

I can, if I work at it a little, convert this power into a problem.  A few years back, the last time I came into a new camera… well, it was new to me… I mentioned with a tremor of concern that I was almost out of external hooks to hang blame for crummy pictures upon.  I think I may, with the acquisition of this (really and for true) new camera, have entirely dismantled the entire rack, and probably done some damage t the wall on which it was mounted.  Henceforth, if I take a duff picture, I will have to admit that the fault lies in the operator.

There was a connected concern that I looked into over the weekend.  Last Christmas, my father won a little camera of the same ilk as I had previously been using.  My brother had no use at all for it (he having already gotten a Rather Good Camera some time ago to pursue his graphic arts), it was a duplicate of one Dad already had, and so I took it on spec as a possible replacement.  Newer, in this digital realm, is better, right?

As it turned out, not so.  It lacked any sort of macro setting, rendering the pictures slightly fuzzy.  It also produced a different file size, which try though I might in my photo-processing software, I couldn’t make match the scale of everything else on my site.  That camera is now a family back-up, held in readiness in case anyone is going somewhere that might want pictures taken, but which might threaten the existence of the camera.  No, we can’t think of anywhere of that description we’d be willing to go, either.

Now, onto the new Nikon.  Could I get it to produce pictures that matched what I had on the site?  If so, good.  If not, I would have my comfortable external locus of blame for bad pictures back in hand.  Here’s the result:

The old Canon

The new Nikon

The new Nikon

As with the Waterman close-up, that’s an unsupported shot.  It might be clearer if I’d applied the tripod.  So long, excuses for bad pictures!  It was nice having you over!  And on that note– the cooler tone of the second picture is an artifact of me messing with saturation in the processing software.  This is something I may be able to stop doing with the new camera, which I suspect will be a little more consistent about such things.

I will not, though, be reshooting the whole site.  Apart from not having all the pens at hand, I can’t face the time it would take.  That brings up the last shadow attending the glory of the new toy.  When I was in my teens, I rather liked photography.  I am reminded of this by the Nikon.  I may, if I’m not careful, devote what little free time for creative pursuits I have to that rather than writing.

Heck, I’ve given over a whole lunch when I could have been writing elegant fictions to bragging about the new camera.  A slippery slope indeed!

Today’s pen: TWSBI Diamond 540
Today’s ink: Diamine Syrah


4 Responses to “Leveling Up”

  1. cenobyte said

    I love the close up! Congrats on your new camera! Boooooo for higher living costs. I could say more, but I shan’t.

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