I've discovered a new way to get people to think I'm just the person to take pictures for them. Last year when I had visits from spaceroo and from skylerbunny I had a pretty effective method, in that the two of us wandering around with cameras around our necks encouraged people to come up and, more often, ask me to take pictures of them at some scenic location. I suspect this is because I had the bigger camera. But since then I haven't had any visitors over, and I'd been asked only one or two times to take pictures.
But now I think I've got the knack. When Skyler was over he talked me into buying the wide-angle lens to attach to my camera, which allows me to take pictures that sweep out a slightly wider cone of view at the cost of moderate distortion of all angles when I have the zoom far enough back to see anything new. I like having the wide angle, you understand; I'm just amused by the fact it has any practical limits. The wide-angle lens isn't enough by itself, though, despite the bulk it adds to my camera. The secret is to also carry around the tripod I bought just before my camera broke early this year. It's not too heavy a tripod, although it is just big enough that I can't fit it in my bookbag, so that I can either have things slung over both shoulders or hook the tripod onto my backpack and have it hit the back of my shin every other step. Both approaches have their drawbacks. However, oversized camera plus tripod hanging around clearly makes people think I actually know what I'm doing with this camera thing. (In fact, just two weeks ago I learned how to take a time-delayed picture, and set it to take only one, not five in a row.)
Last weekend, particularly, I got a half-dozen requests each day to take a picture, which I was happy to do as long as the people asking understood that I didn't really know how to work their camera. Unfortunately, particularly, I couldn't always guess how to work the zoom, so the pictures weren't composed as well as I'd have liked. But on top of that I got spontaneous compliments from three groups of people on my professional camera (I pointed out it's at best semi-pro, and I bought it at Funan the IT mall anyway) and questions about whether I was a professional (no, I just teach) ... oh, you teach photography (no, mathematics) ... and so on. It may have been that I simply had the good luck last week to be out on a particularly photogenic day, but I'm pretty confident the simple bulk of my camera intimidated people.
I wonder what would happen if I got the telephoto lens on top of that, but it'll have to wait for Skyler to visit before I actually buy one, I think.
Trivia: The Franco-Prussian war indemnity of the 1870s was paid one-tenth in gold. Source: Manias, Panics, and Crashes, Charles P Kindleberger.
Currently Reading: Forgotten Armies: The Fall of British Asia 1941-1945, Christopher Bayly, Tim Harper.