Sony sent me a free camera. There were no strings attached, "Just use it and tell us what you think!" they said cheerfully. It was cheaper for them to send me a $200 camera than to send me to blogger camera camp in La Jolla. My main association with La Jolla is the Edward Dorn book Hello, La Jolla. Have you read it? No? Don't worry, late twentieth-century American poetry isn't on the syllabus and it won't be on the final. Anyway, the camera arrived, I charged it up, I snugged it into its cute little red carrying case, and together we drove up to Santa Barbara for the normally incredibly colorful and phototastic Solstice Parade. Miraculously, I found a parking space two blocks from the park where the parade ended and the party began. I dodged my way down Micheltorena Street with a paranoid bird razing my head for half a block. Jesus, I hate when birds do that. "I AM NOT GOING TO DESTROY YOUR STUPID NEST!" I yelled at the bird. In my head.

This is the first picture I took:

This used to be my neighborhood market. The nice Yemeni (Yemenite?) man behind the counter used to smile and give Jackson lollipops. Pause for reminiscence. Okay, done.

Look, solstice people!

Nice strap things, missy. I can't wear shirts like that, on account of having boobs, but I'm happy for you.


Next, I ran into my friends, Scott and Jennifer, and their daughters, Sophie and Katie. They all looked exhausted. It was pretty hot. I showed them the camera. Everyone was mildly interested except Katie, who was sitting in her stroller weeping for a popsicle. Here's Scott:

Whoops! Let's check out that flash fill setting:

What a handsome guy! Thank you, Scott, and good luck strapping your kids into a baking hot car, I hope they don't get permanent screaming seatbelt-buckle brands on their thighs.

I walked on into the park and tried to take a picture of a guy wearing a huge sombrero who was standing in front of a line of twenty portable toilets, but my camera said, "I'm so sorry, my internal memory is full." Uh, what? I actually had the owner's manual with me, but it took several days for me to figure out that I needed to go buy a "memory stick" so that I could take more than four pictures. So I did that -- $35 for the capacity to take something like 800 pictures. The camera was free so I figured I might as well use the Mother's Day money Jack's mom had sent me to pay for the memory, it was just sitting in my wallet waiting to be accidentally used for groceries or one-tenth of a tank of gas.

I sat around the rest of the week waiting for my next big photo opportunity, which came the following Friday when we took Jackson down to Golf 'n' Stuff for his birthday. It was so glaringly bright that I didn't see much point in trying to utilize the subtler camera settings. Also, I was busy losing my ball in the bushes. Here you see Jackson whacking his ball into a comedy-sized version of one of the many cruel and oppressive missions that still dot the California landscape.

If I have to acknowledge the accomplishments of our Christian forefathers, I guess I'd rather do it while playing miniature golf than suffering through another childhood's worth of white gloves and compulsory mass attendance.

Fortunately, miniature golf landscape architects romanticize the mystic Orient as well:

Yes, Jackson did dress himself that morning, why do you ask? Those are his "Friday" socks, I'll have you know.

Close-up setting?

Pretty good. (Jack and Jackson tied for first place. So technically I came in second!)

Portrait setting?

Not bad. Indoor, low-light, semi-sort-of-weak-flash setting that doesn't work so well for action shots?

but that works better for things that stand still, like this Simpson's arcade machine?

There you go.

Later, when we got home, I tested the automatic smile detector setting:

The camera takes movies as well, and they don't suck up massive amounts of memory. I "filmed" 10 minutes of the dogs fighting on the living room floor and still had like 600 pictures left. Do you want to watch my dogs fight for ten minutes? No? How about for 40 seconds, and silently, because the Sony uploading cord has separate sound plugs that aren't long enough to stretch to the sound jacks on my laptop. So that's a problem. Silent Dogfight from Eden M. Kennedy on Vimeo.

You know what else is a problem? The fact that Peewee pulled up that long fiber strand of carpet you see there, and after Jack had glued it down Peewee pulled it up again.

So in conclusion I would like to say, for a completely free point-and-shoot, I am happy with this camera. The settings are easy to change; the viewfinder screen is big, though it picks up an enormous amount of glare and becomes virtually useless on sunny days; the movie setting is great, except that I can't download any sound; but everything downloads into iPhoto easily. It's tiny. It's cute. And did I mention it was free? Thanks, Sony!