Monday, May 07, 2007

Lesson of the Day: Don't Curse the Camera...

This morning I was pissed off at my camera. While studying the tadpoles, we noticed that, just like the illustrations of tadpoles we've seen, their tails are a dark line surrounded by a feathery transparent structure. We also noticed that, unlike the illustrations, a transparent jelly-like skin covers their whole bodies. I tried to take pictures of this, but closeups were blurry and zooming out again didn't show the really cool transparency around them. Cheap damn camera. I had much the same problem trying to take pictures of the ants on my peonies. Too close, blurry. Too far, can't see the tiny little ants. I cursed my camera. I called it some very bad names. The camera took my abuse quietly.

Then, my substitute dad called wanting to take me and the kids out to the lake to observe the flooding and "maybe fish a bit." Yay! I grabbed the crappy camera to document our trip.

This is the rarely-flooded area next to the lake. Normally, the lake sits beyond the furthest treeline in this picture. It might interest you to know that this 1000 acres or so of land, owned by the State of Iowa, is available for lease to farmers every year at a lowered price. Due to rising gas prices, and corresponding rising corn prices, the farmers paid about four times more than prior years per acre this year for this land. Leases were signed two weeks ago, before all this flooding. I'm betting some farmers are losing their ass on this one. While the day was overcast, the view was much brighter than this picture would indicate. Damn camera.

Cadence promptly caught a toad. This particular toad was an amputee, having lost one of his front legs, probably to a turtle. It was healed though, and while he wasn't very good at landing, his disability didn't affect his hopping skills.

Notice the crisp detail of the rocks and plants. Notice the shiny nail polish over dirt-crusted fingernails. Notice that Cadence has as many warts as her new handicapped friend. Now notice the blurry blob that's supposed to be a toad. That fuzzy stump is what's left of his front leg, but after taking four shots, this was the best picture I got of him. Grrr. Piece of shit camera.

After fishing for 45 minutes and catching only one teeny fish, we moved on. A long drive around the lake and down about a hundred gravel roads brought us to a nature preserve. (I forget the name now and it's driving me crazy!) This place had a large grassland with grazing bison and elk, and a Learning Center that offers classes, tours and information on Iowan wildlife. Very cool! We didn't have time to visit the Learning Center or the gift shop (it will make for a cool field trip at a later date), but we drove through the grazing area. I busted out my camera to take pictures. This is what I got:

The bison, buffalo if you like, were wildly and unpredictably lounging in the grass in the far edge of the pasture. I could have gotten some pictures of them, if my camera was good enough. Alas, they were too far away and I didn't even try. Heck, I couldn't even see them well. Grumble grumble.

We got home only minutes before Vic and I pulled out the camera to show off the (crappy) pictures I took today. As he handed it back to me, his fingers caught the wrist strap and the whole thing fell out of my hand onto the slate porch. Batteries went flying. The memory card skidded across into the mud. We got it assembled again and found a small dent in the lens casing and that some small piece of something under the glass viewscreen cover had peeled away at the corner. Bummer. When I turned it on, the lens wouldn't retract and the screen kept telling me "Lens error! Restart camera!" with lots of loud beeping. Fucking great. No matter how shitty, I did spend around 300 bucks for that camera and can't afford to replace it.

A few minutes of screwing with it got the lens working again and it seems that all is well after all. I'll have to deal with the little dent as my punishment for swearing at the camera all day. Cursing at your camera is very bad juju.

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