When my son moved up a notch in camera equipment, I eagerly scooped up his digital camera. I promised myself I would learn to manipulate all its bells and whistles with the skill and perfection of Annie Leibovitz. Even though Kodak has a workable, interactive manual for my camera that I worked through, I still had questions. What happens when set the dial to “A”? What happens when I set it to the little guy who looks like he is running? What is with all those numbers around the screen? So I decided to buy a book so I could learn how to take pictures that capture a moment, that stir an emotion in the viewer, that make me smile when I remember the time I pressed the button.
I went to three booksellers in the Nashua, New Hampshire area. I spent time sitting on the floor with several choices spread around me while I compared and contrasted the features of the books. Maybe I even spent more time choosing the book than I had spent playing with the buttons on the camera. Eventually I settled on Digital Photography: The Missing Manual by one David Pogue.
The next time my son came by, I showed him the book, mentioning that this Pogue guy seems pretty good at writing about this stuff. My son’s kind and measured reply was, “Well, he is a New York Times technology columnist.” Ah, I thought, I did not discover this guy. No, I didn’t. I guess he has an Emmy for his work with CBS, and that whole “Missing Manual” credit, blogs, speaking engagements, and his website to show for himself.
Yet I am really glad I didn’t know that when I picked the book, because that might have been like buying brand name peas or brand name soap only for the brand without regard for what the peas taste like or how the soap washes. I picked the book because I am the great-unlearned when it comes to cameras. This guy made me feel that he can explain my new toy to me and that when he is done, I will have some pretty good pictures. The next time I go to buy something, I hope I don’t know anything about the authors so they have to convince me by what they have to say that they deserve $20 of my hard earned money.