Sunday, November 16, 2008

Loose with a Camera …

I haven’t used a camera for a long time – not since I had a Minolta SRT-101 many years ago. I hated wasting film and you really have to take a lot of shots to get the good ones. As a result, I didn’t get out to do much photography. Digital photography has changed all that. I row row regularly on the Marburg Creek Reservoir at Fort Yargo State Park in Winder, Georgia. It wasn’t until I started rowing on the lake in early 2001 that I really appreciated how fascinating the lake was. The scenery changes throughout the year and there are always something of interesting to see - from scenic features to seasonal changes in flowering plants, animals, turtles, etc. It was the drought of 2007 that brought the camera issue to a head. The lowering lake level revealed features that are normally not visible; it was a unique opportunity to record the changes. I hinted that W should let me take his camera out on the lake. Not. A. Chance! (Can't say I blame him though).

So I lobbied for a digital camera for my birthday. Based on my experience with the Minolta, I knew I wanted a telephoto lens and macro capability; I only use wide-angle when absolutely necessary. Since I would be photographing from a rowing shell, I really didn’t want to have to change lenses; it needed to be an ‘all-in-one’ solution. Although I’m a pretty competent rower, there are too many opportunities to drop a camera in the water. I hated the idea of a case since it would make the camera more cumbersome to handle but it would be a necessary evil. In a rowing shell, I wouldn’t have the luxury of letting go of the oars; I would have to hook my arms over the handles or shafts to keep the boat balanced. I would be able to dangle my legs over each side of the boat to increase the stability but it would only help a little and wouldn’t be practical in winter.

I got an Olympus SP-56OUZ; it has a fixed ED
lens with 27 mm wide angle and an 18x optical zoom (27-486mm equivalent), 8 megapixels, and Dual Image Stabilization.

When I go out to the lake, I put the bag in the stern of the cockpit, take the lens cover off the waterproof case, and lay the case on top of a carrying bag with the wrist strap where I can reach it with a little bit of effort. This system works well because I inevitably get water in the cockpit when I get in the boat. With the bag on the cockpit deck, the waterproof camera case stays dry. Although the waterproof case is cumbersome, it has worked out really well. I have gotten used to lining the boat up with what I want to photograph and levering the oar handles between my body and arms to stabilize the boat. I don’t have to worry about ruining the camera if I drop it in the water or flip my boat. It can be a challenge to photograph something up in a tree, but the challenge is as more about stabilizing the boat than actually capturing the image. There’s a real upside to the waterproof case as well. The camera is so relatively small that it would be really easy to drop it in the water; I actually feel safer having it in something the waterproof case.

It’s great to be able to capture images on the water without having to worry about wasting film, photograph in all weather conditions and, finally, be able to capture memories that I’ll be able to enjoy for years and share with friends.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Stolen Generations: The Apology

February 12, 2008

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's apology motion has been tabled in Parliament:

Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and fathers, the brothers and sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australian.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have changed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country.