Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Life's Too Short to Not Take Pictures

You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. James 4:14

Film and cameras – Watching What Developed
I have truly loved capturing the moment—especially my kids’ moments. You can always tell when a child is photographed often by the poise and charm they turn on the minute a camera comes out. Beginning with the box camera and the rolled film that had to be loaded into it—that’s how far back my own experience stretches. We’ve all seen the movies where the photographer got underneath a black cape attached to the camera and then a flash like an atom bomb goes off blinding the subject for days. Thankfully I wasn’t around for that. But my own knowledge of the progression of photography is nothing short of miraculous in terms of how far the automation of this art form has come.

Entering photos at the county fair using the box camera was a long process. Taking pictures until the roll was gone could sometimes take up to a month or more. Once the film was dropped off at the drugstore, I waited another week. Going back to the drugstore to retrieve the developed pictures was like waiting for Christmas to come. Hopefully there was at least one picture out of the roll of 12 or 24 that actually captured what I was hoping I saw. The negative of choice was taken back to the drugstore to be sent in for the enlargement, and then another week or more of waiting commenced. Matting the enlargement was the final touch before the achievement show in June and by then, I had at least two to three months invested in this one 4-H photo project. Procrastination was not an option back in those days.

My camera equipment thankfully improved over the years from the box camera, to the instamatic, to the 35mm; however, the film developing timeline didn’t change much. As a photographer for the high school yearbook, I had access to the school’s darkroom. I’m sure that room is a broom or storage closet today, but it was a magical room for me back then. Being able to develop my own film and watch the images come to life on the paper under the enlarger was like being a kid in the proverbial candy store. It was like taking the eggs, flour, and sugar and making them into a cookie—only I knew I had to be more patient with the developing chemicals then I was when I baked cookies.

The skills I learned in the darkroom at the high school enabled me to continue to make images appear before my eyes in the lab at the community college for the newspaper there. When overnight turnaround for film developing came on the scene, I was blown away. So you can imagine how one-hour film developing was absolutely the ultimate high in my photographic endeavors.

Enter digital photography. WOW!!! It was not only like taking the bread and slicing it, but packaging sliced, buttered bread and feeding it to me with grapes, wine and cheese while I lounged on a chaise. I could see my images immediately without waiting for developing time; I could delete unwanted pictures with a push of a button, fix the dreaded red-eye, and I could manipulate images on the computer screen and even print images out with my own printer. With all the advances in this field and the decreasing costs of digital cameras, there is no reason why everyone shouldn’t be pictorially recording their own histories.

Over the years, I have also come to appreciate that understanding the effects of lighting is almost as essential as keeping up with the advancing technology. The same subject can be radically changed by a different light source or lighting angle. Likewise, the same outlook on life can be radically changed by whether or not we’re letting our own light shine. If we’re a light unto the world, our subjects will be more likely to be receptive to us.

Life is short. Preserve it--record it with pictures.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Life's Too Short to Miss Out on the Joys of Cooking

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go.” Psalm 32:8

Microwaves – Cooking with Radiation
Are microwaves actually curses disguised as blessings? I didn’t take that package of meat out of the freezer again. No problem. I’ll just nuke it up on the defrost setting, and supper can still be served before midnight.

Before microwaves, I had a hot dog cooker that revolutionized the wait of boiling up those wieners. Six hot dogs could be prepared at one time. Each end of the hot dog was impaled onto the pyramid-shaped spikes on either side of the appliance and the whole apparatus then slid inside the outer plastic case. A few arcs and sparks later, and the dogs were heated through in less than a minute with only a slight electrical taste.

Enter the microwave. The first ones weighed the same as a washing machine and were almost as large. They’ve evolved over the years—and heating, defrosting, and cooking times are cut in half at the very least. But at what cost? The consistency of some foods can take on a rubbery quality like that of overshoes and the hot spots are mysteriously troubling—not to mention harmful. Not only that, but what do we really know about the effects of the microwave’s radiation? There sure seem to be a lot more brain tumors reported since the invention of the microwave—or were there always that many, but now we hear about them with more frequency?

Nevertheless, the microwave is a time saver, and until proven guilty of causing brain tumors will probably be used unceasingly. Unfortunately the lost art of cooking on a stove with burners (as our ancestors did) may be part of the reason for the downfall of society—the crumbling of the family foundation to be more specific. Daughters and sons cooking side by side in the kitchen with their mothers (and fathers), in my opinion, is a necessary bonding and teaching time for developing healthy family relationships.

I’ve really digressed here, but suffice it to say that microwaves are a part of our lives that can be helpful in saving time, but must be used wisely and sparingly.

Life's too short NOT to use the microwave; but be sure to teach your children about the other appliances in your kitchen as well!