Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Photos on Holiday

I have a new camera. Well, it's a few months old now.

It is a Fuji Finepix S9600 - it's an almost-but-not-quite SLR. It's pretty darn heavy, weighing in at about 750gms without batteries inside, which is somewhat contrary to my plan to get a camera to take hiking with us. It's also pretty bulky, having a massive, don't-mess-with-me zoom. But it's the best on the market for what I want.

We took it with us to Sweden where we spent a mere weekend in Stockholm and then proceeded to hike through Swedish Lapland, inside the Arctic Circle, where there was 24-hour daylight.

Mountains, lake and bridge: Everything Swedish Lapland has to offer.

What does round the clock daylight mean for photography? The wrong light, always. Never that slopey-angle orange toned light of dawn or dusk, always that overbright, overhead light that makes playing with the exposure of a photograph complicated.

Also, because we were impatient fools, we forgot to set the camera to store photos on its highest quality setting. Many of our photos (and there are many) were a bit disappointing. Not because we are not brilliant photographers (ha!) but because we used the second highest quality setting. That edge of great images was just ever so slightly lost. Woe, woe, woe.

Just means we have to go back.

My partner is the landscape photographer. I do not seem to have an eye for landscapes. Rather, I am the details photographer. You can always tell who had the camera at what stage because there will be a series of landscapes, some with Oanh in, (my partner has the camera), then a series of close ups of flowers and a shot of my partner looking off in the distance or mucking about with the tent or otherwise keeping himself occupied while I contort myself for the perfect shot of a flower in situ (I have the camera, of course).

Another reason why I am not the landscape photographer is that I have an unerring ability to render my horizons ... slanted. There are any number of series of photos where the horizon or ground gets slowly, inchingly, straighter. Even with the camera set to display lines, I manage to take slant-angled horizon photos. Just a talent.

I am also the director of photography. While my partner holds the camera, I sometimes say, "Make a photo of that!" Or I am trying to take a photo of something but my height prevents me from making the shot that I want, so I hand the camera over to my partner and ask him to take some shots from his height. Occassionally, we have a bargy over who took which photo.

When I was travelling with my sisters in Viet Nam, we each had a digital camera and together, took rather a lot of photos. One photo in particular, The Accountant really liked and proclaimed that she took it. We were on a walk alongside the beach at Vung Tau. In the background numerous Viet flags fly. In the foreground walk my sisters, my mother, my aunts and uncle and cousins, all spaced out in a very aesthetically pleasing fashion. I argued with the Accountant, trying to tell her that I took the photo, but she refused to believe me. She insisted that she took it. Finally, I resort to stabbing at the figures in the photo - "Look! There's the Vegetarian! There's Um! There's Y*! And Vuong**! Where am I? There YOU are! You CAN'T have taken the photo!" She conceded that perhaps she was wrong.

* pronounced ee - means aunt on my mother's side
* pronounced yurng - means uncle who is husband of aunt on my mother's side

My partner and I cannot have such clear proof of who took what photo, although a negative version of this argument occurred over a photo of what I thought to be nothing in particular.

Me: What's this of? It's really weird framing.

My partner: It's of you!

Me: Me? Where? I'm not in this picture.

My partner: [pointing at a blackish shape on the left hand side of the picture, beside some bluish shapes] There you are. It was Alesjaure. You were chillin'.

Me: What? Oh yeah, Oanh like a rock. There I am indeed. So you took this photo? It's one of your crappier photos, man.

Of this photo, my partner and I have the following conversation:-

Me: Oanh has the camera! Nice buttercups. Lovely depth.

My partner: I took this photo.

Me: No!

My partner: Yes, I did.

Me: Oh. Okay, perhaps.

I have to concede that he could be right. He proclaims no proprietory interest in any of the other close-up-of-flower photos. His certainty in respect of this one causes self-doubt.

The following are definitely photos I took:-

My favourite of the myriad wildflowers (fjallblumen, lit. mountain flowers) we saw. I'm naming them 'Bog Cotton Flowers'.

Extreme close up of some very delicate wild mountain flowers.


Anonymous said...

Oanh, I loved reading this perspective of vacation photography! You are going to show more, aren't you? They are fantastic - both the long view and the beautiful closeups.

Cam said...

ha ha - bog cotton flowers! Did you actually try them?

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I like wide angle shots. I know I have a definite preference because even when I swap photos with friends, I still like mine better.

Prior to digicams, I once vacationed with a friend who got mad if I wanted to take a picture of the same thing she photographed. Her thinking is that we already decided we'd make copies for each other so since she already took the picture, I didn't need to also take the picture. So she'd argue and argue with me about it. Umm, it's my camera and I already said I'd give her copies, so why does she care except to enforce her way on me?

BTW, verification word is "hoyas." How appropriate!

Hedgehog said...

I actually quite like photos of 'nothingness', if that makes sense. I love the buttercups photo you took (or your partner took). Sure you have some more photos to show us :D

Oanh said...

Nikkipolani -
Thanks :-) I'll work my way through them slowly.

Cam -
Thanks for dropping by again! If you mean that bog cotton is slang for toilet paper; no, we did not - I would have to wade through actual, mosquito-ridden bog, to get to them. If you mean something else ... enlighten me!

On another note, have you found a recipe for pho ga? I'd just replace the beef in pho bo recipes and go with trial and error - but that's the kind of laissez faire cook I am...

Wandering Chopsticks -
I, too, am biased towards my own photos.

Does your friend have this same attitude now? Back in the film days, I was very careful with my photo taking; careful to frame, that the light was right, that I wanted this picture. Now, I'm still a little careful - but I come back from a one week holiday with 300 photos, whereas I used to come back from three week photos with less than 20 photos in the film days!

I love hoyas - they smell beautiful.

Hedgehog -
Nothingness photos are fine, when the composition is right. I find that photo lacks balance. It's only pleasing for its story - otherwise I would have deleted it!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Actually, despite that awful vacation, I still stayed in contact with her. It helps that we lived in different states and rarely saw each other. The last straw was when I met up with her and her brother for dinner. He asked for recommendations on Vietnamese history books, and when I proceeded to tell him what the book was about, and what current debates about its theories were, he argued with me. I said I was merely describing the book, wasn't looking for any type of debate or argument, they weren't my opinions, merely a summation of the book and current theories. He said we weren't arguing or debating, merely having a "discussion" and that if I didn't like it, I could leave. Then he proceeded to sweep his hands to shoo me away. I said let's not continue this "discussion" then since I came out to meet up with his sister. He continued to argue with me. I asked him to desist. He again did the whole "you can just leave then" and shooed me again. So I turned to my friend, apologized, and said I really don't feel like I have to sit through this. I got up and left. I never did get dinner. She walked me out and never apologized for her brother. Not that I necessarily expected her to, but her only response was that the two of us are "hot-headed." Umm, excuse me? I'm not the belligerent jerk. She was driving cross-country and would also be passing my house on her way. Since I didn't get dinner, I offered to meet up with her for breakfast the next day. She never called, never mentioned it again. Now, my siblings aren't the type to get into anyone's face, but if they were, the least I would have done was apologize on their behalf and try to make it up to my friend. She was argumentative during our entire vacation, so her brother's behavior that night was actually in line with her behavior at times, I just decided it was not a friendship I wanted to continue. At one point on our vacation, when she saw my tag sticking out of my shirt, she insisted I was wearing it inside out. When I told her the tag tends to do that, she walked over, looked, and insisted that I was "wrong." I wasn't, but so what if I wanted to wear my shirt inside out? Most people would just let it go, but nope. She kept arguing with me that I was "wrong." Sigh.

Anyway, I thought hoyas were common, but chalk that up to my American-centric self. Hoyas are mascot for Georgetown University, which is represented by the bulldog. Hence, when I mentioned her arguing with me about my right to take photos with my camera, I said it was apropos. :)

Gosh, that was an awfully long comment!

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