Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ridgebacks, Schnoodles and Photography


Many years ago when I first started hiking seriously I looked for a camera that would take any sort of photo I wanted but would still be light enough for a hike.  In aerospace, at least at the time, it seemed I could find an expert on almost anything and I found one who was purported to be an expert on photography and cameras.  He advised me to get an Olympus 35RC; which I did.  I still have it and it still takes gorgeous photos, but it uses film.

When I sought a good digital camera that had some of the same attributes as the 35RC I got an HP R717 – a fortuitous choice.  It didn’t have the flexibility of the 35RC but its “landscape” setting suited most hiking days.  The photo above was taken with the R717.  The format is too small to really examine the photo, but perhaps you can get an idea of it.  Ginger on the left is looking gorgeously wise and Sage on the right very intense.  One can see mountains reflected in the lake. 

I got a little case that fit on my belt and I could whip the R717 out in no time, or walk along with the strap around my wrist ready to catch my Ridgeback girls in dramatic poses, or the clouds through the trees.HPIM3682

Again, I am almost ashamed to present this in this small format, but if one could see it on my 22 inch Samsun computer screen one would I’m sure find it impressive.  HPIM4040

Here is one I especially like.  The girls are walking together, leaving tracks on the sandy river bottom with forever stretching out before them.

But then Susan got Duffy.  I won’t show any photos of him because he doesn’t photograph well, at least not with my R717.  He is a jet-black Schnoodle who is little larger than a dust mop – well he has grown since his dust-mop days.  Perhaps he is 14 pounds now.  He is Susan’s dog but he insists on going along when we go on a walk or hike.  Not only can I not let him loose so that I can take pictures of him with the girls, I fear to let him loose at all.  We have seen coyotes and feral dogs down there.  The girls chase them, but they might chase Duffy.

Furthermore, Duffy who was 6 months old yesterday occasionally lurches against his leash causing me to jiggle my camera if I happen to be trying to photograph something at the time.  My R717 still took excellent photos, but it was five years old and had no anti-shake capabilities.  So I bought what I thought was the modern equivalent, a Canon SD1400 IS.  But unfortunately none of the automatic settings would permit me to take photos that matched those of the R717. 

The SD1400 reminds me a bit of my old 35RC.  It had a built in light meter.  I could activate that to get that information and them use it to set the aperture and shutter speed manually.  While the SD1400 does have a light meter, it merely tells me what aperture and shutter speed it sees and it won’t let me set them automatically, at least not so far as I’ve seen.  I can set the ISO and I’ve been playing with that, and I could play with the white balance more than I have, but I have yet to produce a photo of the quality of my old 35RC or my newer R717. 

I suspect I shall eventually figure out how to take decent photos at the river with the SD1400, but having to guess at what Canon’s symbols mean makes me wonder whether I shouldn’t have gotten an SLR.  My old Olympus 35RC had most of the settings of an SLR but packaged them into a Rangefinder.  Perhaps the SD1400 will end up seeming like that to me, but it doesn’t yet. 

The reason I never considered an SLR before was because as a hiker I was concerned about weight and SLRs were heavier than rangefinders.  But SLRs have gotten lighter and my hikes have gotten shorter; so I’m starting to think about one.

Another thing, I had discussed in earlier notes my plans to get a smaller dog next time – not as small as Susan’s Schnoodle, but perhaps an Airedale or a Standard Schnauzer, but trying to get a good shot of Duffy is causing me to revise my thinking.  I get positive pleasure out of seeing Sage strike a dramatic pose at the river, e.g. HPIM4377

But I doubt that I could get such shots following a dust-mop, even a dust-mop as large as an Airedale.  An Airedale lover will be quick to tell me I can get him clipped before taking him to the river, but I wouldn’t do that.  I’d get him clipped every six weeks or so, and in between he’d look like a dust-mop.

My reason for considering a smaller dog was that I was 76 last month and it would seem that it might be wise to get a smaller dog.  Ridgebacks need to be boosted in to the back seat of my Jeep, and if we are out walking on leash and a cat runs in front of them, they will forget themselves and try to chase after it, even though I have the other end of their leashes.  However, I just met my new doctor.  He checked me over and said, “you do a lot of walking, lift weights, don’t have arthritis, have a strong heart and lungs, you could go back to work.”

I was startled and said, “I doubt that.  I’ve gotten in the habit of taking naps in the middle of the day.” 

He said, “but you could go back to work if you wanted to.”  Again, I was puzzled by why he would say that.  Did he have patients looking for reasons not to go to work?  Was that his standard for judging good health?  I don’t know, but his opinion suggested that perhaps I needn’t give up on the idea of getting another Ridgeback next time.  I shall probably be able to boost one into my Jeep for several years to come.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic photos!
Delia F.