My Worst Photograph in Five Years


Last Sunday, August 3, 2014 I proudly drove over to the Cinta Costera or Coastal Strip in you want it in proper English to inaugurate my flashing new Manfrotto tripod.  Our trip started at 5:00 p.m. with ample time to safely park our car and select the best place to set up the new photography accessory.

After strolling along the aesthetic venue bordering the Panama Bay, I chose the best place to set up the tripod with a wonderful view of Punta Paintilla with its towering buildings.  The city’s skyline was sublime, it was only a matter of a few hours for the sun to hit the sack.  That happened about at 6:30 p.m.

Slowly, the darkness crept in and the lights of the skyscrapers began to pop up.  Exactly as I had imagined, the Christmas tree was beginning to light up and I was ready like a good Boy Scout.  I even dressed up as a photographer for the historical occasion.   Shorts, red T-shirt, jacket, loafers, golf cap and a creative look on my face; like the ones worn by professional photographers.  I looked so much like a real photographer, that people waved and said “Hello Mr. photographer”, in Spanish of course.  Spanish is our native language in Panama, so they greeted me by saying, “Hola Señor fotógrafo”.  I smiled and waved back, like the real thing.  Inside I felt like a million bucks.  My historic moment had finally come to take the best photograph in my picture gallery after a prolonged wait of five years.  My wife covered my back holding the tripod’s bag and signaling interesting spots to cover with my impressive zoom lens.

Written on a piece of paper I had the camera’s setting suggested by photography authorities on the Internet.  This is what I had written on a small piece of paper inside my slacks’ pocket:

  • Manual Mode 1:  Aperture f/11 or f/16, Shutter Speed 8-10 seconds and ISO 100 or 200.
  • Manual Mode 2:  Aperture f/35, Shutter Speed 25 seconds, ISO 1,600
  • Aperture Mode:  Aperture f/4 or f/5.6, ISO Auto

Then Murphy’s law started to works its way into the scene.  (FYI, Murphy’s law is an adage or epigram that is typically stated as: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.) The AmazonBasic wireless remote control for my Canon T2i would not work no matter how hard I tried to make it work.  No problem, I had the alternative of  pressing the Shutter button manually, even if that meant the possibility of shaking the camera with its obvious consequences.

I framed the picture, carefully moved the knobs of the tripod and had everything perfectly arranged for my masterpiece photographs.  Notice that this time I’m intentionally using the word “photograph” and not “snapshot“.  (Omar smiles mischievously).

I shot about twenty pictures, hurriedly packed my gear and headed home with butterflies in my stomach.  I couldn’t wait to get home and view my works of art.  We got home at about 7:30 p.m. and immediately rushed to our home office to download the pictures.  My wife was closely walking behind me, as curious as I was.  My heart was pounding like a wrecked old grandfather’s clock as the wireless transfer took place.  Then the first picture popped on the screen in stellar Technicolor.  Drums rolling…

This is what I saw, to my dismay and horror:

Photograph of the blurry skyscrapers of Panama City shot from the Coastal Strip. This is the worst picture I’ve ever shot in my whole life including the time when I owned a primitive Kodak Brownie camera. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

What happened?  What was this horrible picture in front of me?  Where did the buildings go?  All these questions were exiting from my head at lightning speed.  I sat down and thought for a long while.  Murphy law had emerged its ugly head once more.  Then I got it!  In my excitement, I forgot to click the AF button (Automatic Focus).  This meant that all the pictures were shot out-of-focus; and the one above, was caused by excessively shaking the camera.  I told ya, Mr. Murphy was there—uninvited.

The picture is so spoiled, that it resembles a mediocre imitation of a Post-Impressionist French painting.  It’s so horrible, that sometimes I noticed dim flashes of beauty hidden behind the blurred shapes and hazy shades of light.  Maybe it wasn’t so, maybe it was just my wishful thinking.

Oh, before I forget.  There are two shots with the AF button On which don’t look so bad.  The rest of the Frankenstein pictures will be posted tomorrow if you dare to return.  One horrible picture for a single day wholly covers the quota.  Good Day.

5 thoughts on “My Worst Photograph in Five Years”

  1. I’m right there with you, Omar (and Aura). Take heart that the buildings will be there tomorrow, the sun will set, and with digital photography, you have only inconvenienced a few electrons. In the “old days”, I wasted money on photos like this on film photography. You will get the hang of this, like everything, practice is required.

    I practiced shooting in a darkened room with different setting until I could get passable fotos, with digital, I just shoot lots of different settings until something works.
    jim

  2. Morning Jim and Nena:

    Thank you for the encouragement. This was quite a disappointing experience, but you are right. “Practice makes perfection.” There is one thing sure, I’ll keep on shooting until I learn the ropes. It’s the nature of the beast.

    Regards,

    Omar.-

  3. Of course you were disappointed, Omar. But these things happen — and remember how you encouraged me when I made my fuzzy photos without realizing that cold lenses and high humidity don’t make for the best photos? You said something like, “Well, that’s a lesson that’s learned now, and you won’t have to learn it in the future.” You just learned a lesson, and as Jim and Nena said, the good news is that we don’t have the expense of film to cope with!

    Besides, look at this double negative. You know who took that? Ansel Adams. 😉

  4. I guess I was too pumped up when I went to the Coastal Strip. Viewing that surreal picture was a blow to my ego. But it is what it is. No use crying over spilled milk, right? 🙂

    If the Photography Guru, Ansel Adams, made that mistake, I think it’s all right if I stumble now and then. Thanks for the lift up.

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