Travel Portrait #37
The Pilgrimage: Barter [listen]
Friday, February 15, 2013
Knowing that he could not repay his mother
with cash for what she sloughed off as, "your
second wedding gift," he decided and she agreed
the best form of reimbursement he could provide was
to document the events and the family's experience
together while in Rome.
"More like a first anniversary gift," he
corrected, continuing on about what she would get
from his project: a copy of prints, and a section
on his website for the photographs. "This solution
will enable you to maximize your ability to share
with your friends instead of being burdened by carrying
a large photo album around from person to person.
You can choose a small set of photos that you want
to share when you visit your friends, otherwise they
"...You mean I can talk on the phone while online,"
"Well, sort of--but most people have dial-up
internet connections in their home."
"You have a camera that can do all that? And
the computer programs?"
"I have the software. I will have to check out
what kind of cameras are available. I don't think
I want to handle a lot of film, and have to worry
about them getting erased when going through the x-ray
scanner at the airport."
His mother had reminded him about the news report
about vacation photographs being wiped out after going
through security machines at airports. "If you
are not careful, the photographs would be radiated
when you left film exposed inside the camera, not
rolled all the way back into the cartridge."
He confirmed her concern about using film, but failed
to admit the true reason. He was always disappointed
with the results from disposable cameras despite the
great service at the local drugstore chain. He could
drop the camera off, and in a day or two, he would
get back prints, negatives, and a 3.5 floppy disk(s)
(or a CD for an additional charge) with the images
computer-ready! When he looked at the prints, what
he received were photographs, seventy-percent of which
were blurry action shots, and/or under exposed images
because he could not (or forgot to) set the flash
in time. He had become quite skilled at explaining
what was going on if the picture had been clearly
taken. He also became quite skilled at wrist-flicking,
tossing from a distance, the unwanted photographs
into his wide-rimmed waste bucket. If what he produced
for his mother were seventy-percent 'tossables', he
would suffer a similar fate.
He decided to purchase a digital camera. He spent
a cool grand on a 3.3 megapixel (with 2.5 digital
zoom) semi-professional camera, as described in the
monthly catch-all computer magazine, which ranked
desktops, monitors and printers. In the July issue,
the magazine featured the latest laptops, hand-held
devices (PDAs), and a list of the top ten digital
cameras as well as the slickest accessories. He chose
the third-place camera. Following the recommendation
from the salesperson, he bought extra 16 MB memory
chips and rechargeable batteries when he was at the
store. Thinking smartly, he included a voltage converter
and a plug adapter with his purchase.
When he got back to his apartment, he opened the
box and took out the camera manual. While reading,
he was pleasantly surprised that the instructions
were only semi-difficult. He learned what the icons
meant. He found out that the lightning bolt was not
a high voltage warning, but was a indication that
the flash was active. He learned how to turn off the
beeps after he figured out how to set the date-time
twelve hour mode, how to change the distance measurement
from meters to feet, and learned the difference of
file types based on desired image resolution. He had
difficulty with the macro concept and the representative
With semi-understanding of his camera, he took a
couple of pictures of his wife and mother, and a few
of the apartment interior. Later he drove from West
Philly to Rittenhouse Square to take pictures out
in the field. He wanted to test his skills at
adjusting the camera settings in the dead of night.
He practiced with delayed flash and different shutter
speeds. He shot in black and white, in an attempt
to achieve a look reminiscent of early twentieth century
photography, pictures taken of buildings and parks
in New York and Paris.
When back at his computer, he practiced crop-editing
to improve image composition. He did not show his
'black and whites' to anyone. He continued practicing
in color, getting mixed reviews from his mother and
wife, gaining a sense of their temperament.
"... more of a photojournalist documentary quality,"
he was advised.
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