Historical Society of Cheshire County, Keene, NH

This is the facade of the Historical Society of Cheshire County on Main Street: another example of the Italianate style of architecture I’d mentioned last weekend. I’m posting this picture to give you a sense of the kind of brightly lit photos I can take with my new pencam. Although I still take most of my blog photos with my digital camera, I bought the pencam so I could take quick pictures in situations where I wanted to be more discreet or in places where I didn’t want to carry (and potentially damage) my more expensive camera.

In brightly lit settings, the pencam works remarkably well, as you can see by perusing all seven pictures in this post. And since I’ve already dropped the pencam several times with no apparent ill effect–and since it’s so easy to slip into a pocket, carry in a hand, and use unobtrusively–it really is a great alternative for times when I’m rushing around and don’t want to carry and coddle my full-size, delicate, full-price camera. The pencam beeps when you snap a photo, so it’s still difficult to be entirely surreptitious. But since most folks carry beepers, cell phones, and the like, a little beep here and there isn’t necessarily going to alarm the locals.

Flipping the bird, La Carreta, Nashua, NH

In low-light settings, though, the pencam doesn’t perform very well, as this picture from last night demonstrates. Chris, Kathleen, and I went out for Mexican food before going to see a late showing of Fahrenheit 9/11. (Thanks to Kathleen’s mom for ordering our movie tickets online after we arrived early at the theatre to find a huge line snaked outside.) In the process of showing Kathleen my new toy, I aimed it at Chris, who promptly flipped me off. So now all of cyberspace can revel in Chris’s spontaneous expression of One Finger Zen. In the interest of fairness, I should admit that Chris used to display in his corporate office cubicle a photo of me flipping off a photographer with both hands: when co-workers asked about this illustration of Two Finger Zen, Chris would remark, “That’s my wife; isn’t she lovely?” Alas, when provoked, I can act as low-life as anyone.

When I ordered the pencam, I knew that it tended to give low-light photos a blurry orangish tint: after all, I’d first considered getting a pencam after seeing Ron Cillizza post similarly surreptitious restaurant pictures. Sometimes you want photos that are crisp and clear; other times, though, you’re content to capture a blurry glimpse of a dimly lit moment. Ron’s photos from the 99 Restaurant captured a mood of smoky, beer-addled idleness: whether or not that’s what the scene actually looked like, the images nevertheless suggest a seamy mood. Last night’s mixed-company version of the usual beer and burritos ritual wasn’t nearly as trashy as Kathleen’s pre-game hype would have suggested, but the dark, grainy pictures make it seem so.

Aztec calendar mosaic, La Carreta, Nashua, NH

The folks at the next table had an expensive digital camera, and they insisted on taking a series of obnoxiously obtrusive pictures of one another and the waiter. Their full-flash photos probably came out bright and clear, but no one around our table knew that I too was armed, albeit with a much smaller device. And on the way home when Kathleen was pulled over for an entirely different kind of low-light–a burnt-out rear license-plate bulb–the baby-faced officer peered suspiciously into the car to see if we’d been drinking, but he didn’t search for cameras. Unlike the movie security guard who gave my shoulder bag a good strong stare as we entered the theatre, the traffic cop had no clue I was digitally armed and watching. Had I had that pencam at the ready, you see, I could have secretly snapped every moment of his spot-lit interrogation. As it was, our low-life transpired in low-light, so you’ll just have to believe these admittedly blurry and dim-lit details.