Tuesday, January 17, 2006

My Newest Hobby

(Photo was taken on New Year's Eve (2005) at Sweetest Heart of Mary Church Rectory. From the collection of Fr. Mark Borkowski.)

The very last thing I needed was another hobby. But I've got one. Or should I say I have a renewed passion for one I had many years ago. I got a new camera for Christmas and that was what set off my renewed interest in photography. I've been using digital cameras exclusively for just about 10 years now. But they've all been the point-and-shoot variety. I loved not having to pay for film processing and was glad not to have to scan the printed photos into my computer to get digital images. So even though I had a nice SLR camera (Pentax ME Super) with all the bells and whistles (power drive, several lenses and filters), I quickly converted to a digital camera and never looked back. But I must admit there were times when I missed being able to take natural-light photos and capturing multiple-image action pictures. But hey, digital is so cool I quickly became addicted.

I was excited to see digital SLR cameras come on the scene a few years ago but couldn't imagine paying those premium prices for hobby equipment. After all, I'm no professional. I enjoy taking photographs but I doubt if I'll ever win a competition with any of my shots. I'm too quick on the shutter button. I always think I'll miss the opportunity and jump to press the shutter instead of waiting for the winning shot. Patience. I never had much of it where photography was concerned. Digital point-and-shoot cameras were good for me because I didn't need to screw around with focusing and settings. I could give in to my impatience and just click away. You get a lot of shots that way, but not many good ones.

As is usually the case with technology, prices drop over time. Such has been the case with digital SLR cameras. They're still not cheap mind you, but they have become affordable for the serious enthusiast at least. It also helps when you know someone who works for the company and can get discounts . Last fall, when watching a Michigan football game on TV, a commercial came on for the Canon Digital Rebel XT... "The official camera of the NFL". I was fascinated and made some comment about how cool it would be to have a camera like that. Well, my dear husband (who happens to work for Canon) decided to surprise me with one for Christmas. And both my creative writing and genealogy hobbies have had serious competition for my free time ever since.

I love my camera. Even if I don't know how to use most of the whistles and bells yet. I have read the user manual from cover to cover and have gone through the online tutorials on the Canon web site. It's a very complicated piece of equipment and it will take me a while to master it. Focal length, white balance, shutter speeds, aperture... these terms are all coming back to me but not as quickly as I would like (I don't like that aspect of getting old!). But I'm having a ball learning! It's so cool to be able to take a shot at a number of different settings without thought to cost. And this time around I have the latest and greatest version of Photoshop to edit my photos with too (something I didn't have 10 years ago). It's glorious! Of course it can be a real time drain too.

So, "what's happening with the novel?" you ask. Well, not much actually. Not much happening on the genealogy front either. I've been taking lots of photos though! Like I said, the very last thing I needed right now was another hobby. I have started to read the completed draft of my novel for the first time though. It reads much faster than it was written. I don't know what I expected but I'm not finding it nearly as exciting to read as it was to write. My husband who is the first "other person" to read my manuscript is about half way through and he says he's "curious to see what happens next". I guess it's not exactly an edge-of-your-seat page turner but still that's pretty high praise from someone who is an avid (and I mean avid) reader of fiction.

I will end by mentioning that I have decided on a name for my novel. It will be called Conquering Foxman. Hopefully, people will wonder what it means and pick up the book to satisfy their curiousity. No, I'm not going to spill the beans here and tell you what it means. If you're curious, you'll have to read the book to find out!