Sunday, January 11, 2015


I grew up before the digital age. It was just coming in as I reached college. I was a child of the transistor age when computers were vast room-sized machines with punch cards that needed other, vaster, room-sized cooling units to dampen the temperatures of all of those freaking vacuum tubes.

When the digital age finally did come down on us I went along for the ride, mainly. There are aspects of digital technology that I truly do not like. Some things I'm still fence-sitting and haven't made up my mind about. Computers are okay and I have a desktop and a laptop and a phone that is actually a small tablet computer. And I have an ereader that is a tablet and which I look upon with distaste because of my adamant hatred of the world of self-published ebooks.

But one thing that I do love about digital technology are cameras. I adore the things. Because I travel about a fair amount and I like to take photographs and videos of the places I visit and the things that I see. Back in the day of film photography I had a decent camera, but film photography was expensive and I had to be very careful of the subjects I chose to photograph. Those trips to the drug store to develop the photos could be prohibitively expensive!

Enter the digital camera. I bought my first digital camera in 2004. It was not an SLR...I'm not even sure if they offered digital cameras in SLR format then. But it was built like a tank--an earlier Canon model. I must have dropped it on the rocks and boulders half a dozen times and it never stopped working. Finally, I just wore it down and bought another Canon camera. I've been through a number of digital cameras since that time and still have most of them. Mainly I stick with Canons (they don't pay me for promoting them, but I've always been happy with the performance of their machines).

But my newest gizmo is a digital camera mainly meant for making video footage. It can also perform as a still camera, but I don't suspect that I'll use it in that capacity very much. (But, you never know.) It's one of those GoPro Hero cameras. Mine is the Hero 3+ Black Edition. So far, I've only used it to shoot some experimental images, but I'm happy with it. I'm looking forward to getting it out on the trail to see what kind of video I can shoot. Before this I have always been stingy with shooting video on my hikes and backpacks, because my SLR and point-and-shoot cameras were mainly for still photography and I was generally worried about running out of room on my memory cards.

At any rate, it's my latest digital contraption. Computers aren't all bad, I figure.

My GoPro video camera. I have several ways to mount this thing. Tripod. Dashboard. Chest harness. Helmet harness. It's amazing. This is the camera in its waterproof housing. I also bought several extra batteries for it and a high capacity memory card. We'll see how it works in the months ahead.


Lawrence Roy Aiken said...

When it comes to the GoPros, I wonder why it took so long to come up with them. The tech isn't all that difficult. I imagine there are some serious SteadiCam algorithms built in, but digital photography has been around since at least the late 1990s. How hard could it be?

Maybe it's just me, but it seems technological advancement has slowed to a crawl in the last couple of decades. I mean, we're just now working on self-driving cars?

Anyway, I don't mean to shit all over your good news. I could see you running a YouTube series with the helmet cam, pointing out details in the landscape as you look directly at them. Of course, it would also be nice just to have it for yourself. As you say, this is all going away. A document of what it was like to walk in the woods will be nice to have when there are no more woods.

James Robert Smith said...
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James Robert Smith said...

The place where I suspect I will put it to best use will be Glacier National Park. Best case scenario now is that all of the glaciers will be gone from the Park in just five more years. So I have no time to waste. Just a few years ago they were saying the glaciers would last until 2030 or thereafter. But they're melting so fast that they will be history by then. I hear the rangers don't even take you out on Grinell Glacier anymore because it has become too thin.