Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Combat the rainy day blues with your digital camera


By David Gewirtz

Even though it's summer, there are still rainy days. Today, it's bright, sunny, and oh-so-hot. But yesterday was a rainy, rainy day. I went out in it for a little while on a necessary errand and by the time I got back home, I was drenched.

Rainy days are not good days for photo fun, are they?

It turns out, you can have fun with your camera whether you're outside photographing some wonderful nature scenic or inside, photographing something unexpected.

"This story is about being creative, trying new things, and looking for new perspectives."

Back when we all used film cameras, you might not have wanted to blast off 50 or 60 shots to just see what happens (after all, it took a while to get the developed film back and it was often rather costly). But with digital cameras, you can go wild. Take pictures even if you think they'll suck. After all, you can always delete them!

I did just this last night. We have a small toy called, creatively, "Magnetic Fun". Bought at the local dollar store, the product consists of two separate elements, a magnetic ball and a colorful, magnetized connector, as shown in Figure A.


You can have magnetic fun with just two parts. (click for larger image)

Each package of the Magnetic Fun comes with a bunch of these connectors (all the same shape, but different colors) and a bunch of little balls. We bought all the packages left at the dollar store (spending a whopping ten bucks or so!), so we wound up with a whole bunch of parts, as you can see in Figure B.


Even though they're different colors, they're all the same shape. (click for larger image)

What makes Magnetic Fun fun is that you can build all sorts of fun things. The parts also make an incredibly satisfying "snick" sound when they snap together. Last night, while watching Crossing Jordan with my wife Denise, I built the little structure shown in Figure C.


Magnetic Fun makes Crossing Jordan a whole lot more fun to watch. (click for larger image)

Were this story to be just about magnetic fun, it would be just about as interesting as another Crossing Jordan rerun. But this story is about being creative, trying new things, and looking for new perspectives.

What happens if you experiment? What happens if you look at the same ol' stuff from a new perspective? For example, I decided to subject Magnetic Fun to my camera's macro mode (letting me get in close). Using macro mode, I was able to get the picture shown in Figure D.


Let's get up close and personal with Magnetic Fun. (click for larger image)

I didn't do any retouching on this, and it's really interesting. Of course, I could start tinkering with the image in Photoshop and see where it takes me. For example, in Figure E, I used the previous picture, and just applied the Find Edges filter.