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Thursday, March 27, 2008

My New Glass Eye

Whether he is an artist or not, the photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts. -- Walker Evans

I have never owned a proper camera. I've had the occasional disposable camera and have taken photos with various cell phones once in a while. I hate having my picture taken because it always turns out horrible, and I've always felt that having a camera would keep me from paying attention to where I was and what I was doing because I'd be spending all of my time looking for things to take pictures of intead of actually being present where I was instead.

I always chose to enjoy other people's photos and to appreciate the artistry of their eye and observation. And to pride myself on my memory so I wouldn't need a bunch of photos to remember things (the memory part which is now very obviously going by the wayside).

I thought all of these things before I moved to San Francisco. And then all of a sudden I wanted a camera.

Even though day-to-day life in San Francisco can be dirty and grubby (but what city isn't?), this city is a magical place to live. From day one, my eye would catch a something that screamed out to me to take its picture. A doorway or detail in a beautifully painted Victorian home (they're all over the place). A flowering garden. The usual tourist sights. A person who attracted my interest (San Francisco is full of them, too). I kept feeling like I was missing out on capturing something interesting or beautiful, that I was missing a wonderful opportunity to play show-and-tell with myself and others.

It was like my eyes woke up finally, in a different way.

This added perception has been simmering inside me all the while, but when it came time to shell out several hundred dollars for a camera, the money always seemed to find other things to spend itself on.

And then last year I went to Venice. The Boy very kindly let me borrow his steadfast little Olympus, a point-and-shoot that took some decent photos but could not come near to capturing the overwhelmingly beautiful decadent, decaying glory of that city. So I did the best I could and took some snapshots, and when I came home and sorted through them all, felt the frustration of seeing that a lot of the photos I thought I had taken existed only in my mind and that I hadn't actually taken those photos at all.

So my New Year's goal was to get what I called a Big Girl camera. And bless those friends and bloggers who I pumped for information about what to kind of camera to buy. But in the end, the money I kept trying to save for my camera was getting eaten up by bills.


The Boy has come to the rescue again. Last week he bought a beautiful camera on a whim while walking down Chestnut Street (apparently guys indulge in/fall victim to Retail Therapy, too). For some reason he did not know about my camera yearnings and has generously given me this perfect Canon PowerShot S5 IS, which is even better than the Nikon I was considering. It's mostly mine to use as I wish, except for baseball days when he will take it to the Giants' stadium and use the super-duper zoom function to take photos of the pitchers on the mound.

Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

So I've been taking my camera with me everywhere. I cradle it to my chest on the train to and from work like it is a baby. I haven't taken as many photos yet as I thought I would because I am learning that serendipity doesn't just arise when you want it to. But those moments and places will come, and when they do, hopefully I will have the lens cap off in time to catch a little magic.

I know I have a lot to learn about this new desire, but I'm looking forward to the process and seeing what happens.

Buying a Nikon doesn't make you a photographer. It makes you a Nikon owner. -- Author Unknown

The first Big Girl photos are here on my flickr account. See what you think.


Alex March 26, 2008 at 10:46 PM  


Christie March 27, 2008 at 7:34 AM  

I love the little pig chef! So cute.

I'm totally addicted to my camera, so I know what you mean...

NYC Tango Pilgrim March 27, 2008 at 7:46 AM  

I, myself, is a proud Nikon owner: F3, F4, 8008, coolpix 995. And buying all these Nikons did make me a better photographer, or maybe I was a better photographer that I wanted to buy Nikons. Anyway, it was long time ago.

A post that reminds me one of my fade away passion.

koolricky March 27, 2008 at 8:21 AM  

Nice photos!
I have a friend who lives in Haight Street not far away from Love n' Haight! I went there a few times...


FogBay March 27, 2008 at 2:24 PM  

Nice photos at Flickr.

You've got a great eye for the things that can't be taught, finding the essence of a scene and framing a shot (Outside Molotov's and Enjoying the Day).

The good news is that as bad as the Giants are going to be this year I think you'll have a lot of time to spend with the camera and becoming the next Henri Cartier-Bresson.

tangobaby March 28, 2008 at 9:00 AM  

Hi Alex,

I knew you would approve.

Hi Christie,

You know I love your photos but they also have the bad habit of making me hungry. I know you will have some tips to share with me in future.

Hola TP,

Of course I am not surprised. Martial arts expert, tango devotee and talented photographer. Perhaps I will have some photography questions for you too. I would love to see some of your photos.

Hi Koolricky!

I'm sorry I didn't know you then when you were here. So you know exactly where I was...I hope you made it into Rosamunde's. I am sure your friend goes there.

Be sure to come back someday!

Hello FogBay,

You know that you are one of my photoblog idols so this praise is very special indeed.

I look forward to having you as my technical expert and guru. You are very talented.

Thanks everyone for the support and comments!

paris parfait March 28, 2008 at 4:51 PM  

Hooray! Now go take that Obama sign photo for me, please! :) xo

paris parfait March 28, 2008 at 4:54 PM  

Oh and forgot to say the photo of your eyes is fabulous!

tangobaby March 28, 2008 at 4:54 PM  

You read my mind...I was going to take a photo the other day but it was trash day in front of the fence and NOT very scenic at all.

But I will go over there soon!

koolricky April 1, 2008 at 2:47 PM  

Hi TB, I was there 3 years ago! I spoke to my friend and he swears that we didn't go there, that we went to Big Sherm's, which I remember very well, 'cause I love avocado.
Anyway, I went there (maybe without him, after all, he had to work during the day!). Rosamunde's... Doesn't ring any bell, but then again, I went to so many places in San Fran that it kind of got a bit muddled up in my brain...

tangobaby April 1, 2008 at 4:25 PM  

Hey Koolricky,

Just so you know, it's not Big Sherm's anymore. Now it's called Estella's.

I think it's high time you came back here. I'll take you out for sausages at Rosamunde's, cupcakes at Kara's, whatever you want.

Plus, your Euro would go very far here these days.

robin bird July 25, 2008 at 9:24 PM  

i like that! a big girl camera! i am very much as enthralled as you and on the same road of learning. it should be fun :)