Archive for February, 2011


Shooting Manual

I don’t get what the big deal is with people insisting that once you get a camera that has manual settings for everything, you’re committing a deadly sin by straying towards automatic. I’m sure there are actual professionals around who actually know how to handle a camera, but I am constantly irked by those who mouth off at others about using manual, then photoshop the hell out of the single decent frame they got out of the sea of pictures that look black as the inside of an exhaust pipe or bright as the interrogation light I’m going to use to torture these people one day. One day.

People, aperture priority and shutter priority are great tools. Use them. Hell, go all the way and use full auto. God knows you can trick it into getting surprisingly good results if your cam lacks the option for manual. Do not pay heed to all the harpies going on about how you will achieve nirvana by drinking from the holy grail of manual settings.

If you’re so hell-bent on being purists, why not discard your entire heads-up-display? Banish the exposure meters to the fires of hell and bring eternal damnation upon the likes of the heathen depth-of-field preview. Who needs a viewfinder? Most people buy large-sensor cameras for image quality. They don’t buy it to show off how good they’ve studied the intricacies of its light gathering mechanism, and they sure don’t buy the things to take terrible pictures. Sure, you could learn a thing or two shooting manual but can you not do the same thing on the automatic or semi-automatic modes?

Take for example a lowly point-and-shoot. There he sits with his 12 megapixels of graininess just waiting for you to pick him up and get jiggy with his shutter. Depress the shutter release half-way and there you have it, aperture and shutter speed info! Holy mitts of a hobo, it tells you what sort of settings it’s using for this shot! Take another in different light, and the settings change. See a pattern? If you’re smart enough you’ll figure out what the numbers mean and with the help of el goog, you’ll be figuring out your own settings in no time.

See how much easier that is than wasting a few billion opportunities trying to figure out what settings to use? By all means, go on to manual settings when you’re actually confident enough for it, you’ll get much better results most of the time. You might just find that on your way to reaching this seemingly great plateau of human achievement, your camera can help you out. As always, the key is moderation. Use auto! Learn a thing or two. Switch to partly manual to see what turns up. Enjoy it. Play around! Once you get a feel for your camera, move onto the flexibility of manual. And use auto for the occasional quickie.

A lot of people buy cameras to have fun. They enjoy taking pictures. If that means allowing a computer to help you out here and there, then so be it. After all, it’s all just for the fun of it.


Status Report

Dear reader,

How have you been? I am stupendous, as usual. Currently I am taking a break from the chaos of a motherless house to gobble up some ice cream and corn flakes. This house is a home no more, for it has morphed into a stark containment cell of concrete and brick, destined to merely shelter the occupants from the elements. We shuffle by each other, nary a word exchanged. Food is scarce, alliances even more so.

This is all made possible by my dearest mother not being in the country at the moment. She will only return in about two weeks, so acquiring food is a constant concern. But look, at least I got a pair of 3D glasses off a cereal box.

The past two weeks have been quite exciting. The constant feeling of danger has turned my normally serene sub-urban neighbourhood into a place that reminds me of the Serengeti. Hungry mammals wander the plains looking for the next lunch packet to chase down and pounce upon. Thankfully, I am yet to fall into such desperation that I have to cook for myself. Except for one hungry night, when I whipped up some pancakes for myself to stave away the cold and loneliness. Excuse me my weaknesses, dear reader, for I am but human.

I shall keep you updated on developments.



I’d like to take a break from the usual broadcasting schedule to share with you something I’ve loved ever since I was a little kid, still figuring out how best to undermine women’s lib.

This post shall contain no chauvinism, no sexism and a few other things ending in -ism. All I ask is that you read through.

Remember Calvin & Hobbes?

Clavin & Hobbes’ last few panels were inked back in 1995, my first year at school. A few years later I would see my first strip and be fascinated by it. Fast forward another few years and there I am cutting comic strips out of the papers and pasting them in an old school exercise book. I used to like Bill Watterson’s handiwork from all those years ago, but as I got older I started realizing there was so much more to these stories than just a quick gag.

Calvin managed to convey the joys of childhood, the folly of our ways, the infinite capacity for entertainment that an active imagination can get you and even the feeling of being utterly lonely in the world in a handful of boxes drawn into a newspaper. Do I think it was the greatest thing to happen to comic strips in the history of everything there has been, ever will be and ever happened in all the other parallel universes as well? In a word, good God yes it is. Eventually I got my hands on every single strip from 1985 to 1995 in digital form and went through each one many times over.

Trying to pick a favourite is a futile exercise as I always feel like I’m a kid sitting under a giant Christmas tree, trying to pick out a present from the thousands littered under it. This comic has cheered me up, given me inspiration, moulded my character and given me more embarrassing moments than I can count, when I caught myself chuckling in public while reminiscing about one of Calvin & Hobbes’ many adventures, among other things. More than belly laughs, the little guy and his tiger had me smiling to myself and just pausing to think about something far more than anything or anyone I’ve ever come across.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I love this comic. If you haven’t ever seen it, you should. I can’t find the words to explain how much of an impact a precocious little boy and his imaginary friend can have on you.



I’m Going Undercover, Folks

Feminism is strange. The whole point of feminism, I think, is to eventually make a world where feminists aren’t required, and hence don’t exist. So they’ll know a  job’s been completed when their ranks start thinning. Right now, they’re working to get women a better quality of life, to not be harassed each time they go out in public wearing anything short of a Big Bird outfit.

Bus harassment is very real. It’s a terrible problem plaguing our people. A scourge amongst the populace. Take for instance, what happened to me just last week.

I was in Boralle, about to get into a bus on my way to work. A woman got onto the footboard ahead of me. I followed behind and, as the bus started moving, quickly grabbed onto the handle-bar on the side of the doorway. The handle felt weird. I didn’t have to look at it. My finely honed instincts told me what it was. I had grabbed the woman’s hand in my haste to get on the bus.

If only my instincts were even remotely reliable. I had, upon further inspection, grabbed the handle in such haste that I had managed to capture a number of hair strands from the woman in front of me with my hand, on its curving path. As a result I was now holding on to this woman’s hair, firmly pinned to the handle-bar on the doorway. She continued upwards, was pulled back by her hair being held by my arm and very nearly fell back on me, knocking us both off the bus.

She being a woman and thus, finding basic reasoning to be as alien as cooking is to me, saw it fit to eyeball me viciously the whole time I was in the bus, as if I’d slapped her on the rump and gone “Beam me up, scotty!” or something. She even scowled at me as I got off the bus.

I’m currently involved in something called ReachOut, which is a loose organization kind of thing that does stuff to uphold women’s rights. Or something. BeyondBorders is teaming up with them, so I went along to see what I could sniff out about the feminist agenda. We’re doing a series of disruptive theatre performances, and a few workshops and things at schools based on the findings. We would appreciate it if some of you louts came along and lent a hand. Yes, the women are asking for help. Again. What else is new?



A lot of people posted again. Is this some kind of return to the hey-days of blogging where we all linked to each others’ posts and met up awkwardly over a few beers?

The last bit, at least, will hopefully come to pass again. Valentine’s day is coming up again, and we want to do the same thing we did, what was it, two years ago? Come to Lani’s in the evening. It should be fun.


The State of The Union

Hello and welcome to my first post of the year. Following in my usual tradition of being fashionably late, I decided to write something down to sate the minds of all the people visiting daily to check if I’d posted anything. All you people who kept checking, thank you. Even the two of you who got here by searching for “white man posh shower”.

To start with, the mother is leaving for India again in approximately six hours from now. This is dire news as I now have even less faith in my cooking skills than I did the last time around. Unless I survive off roadkill or something, I am seriously concerned about my chances of survival. Add to these woes the fact that I plan to buy a camera in a couple of weeks, meaning I’m stingy like a micro-managing pimp these days.

In more positive news, we recently went to Galle during the lit fest. Attended the free event, Readings at Sunset. Or something. It was at a hotel a bit towards Unawatuna. We had the misfortune of attending last year too, when we cycled to galle. This year would be different, we hoped. Alas, it was not to be so as we were yet again assaulted with wave after wave of what we were assured was “Great literature” and authors who were supposedly “The greatest writers in the country”.

I’ve read a lot of Sri Lankan “writing” on these here inter-tubes. I don’t think most of you would fancy yourselves professional writers and erstwhile gay fashion statements, but honestly, you lot write content that is far superior to what I was assaulted by at Galle. You are the USS Kennedy to their Titanic. The Great Wall of China to their parapet wall behind my house. The Murali to their …me. I don’t know, I’m the worst bowler I know.

It felt like the written form of Mahagedara being read out. I was literally falling asleep listening to some lady yap on about some freaky love triangle like it was the third world war. It was full of people in the audience chattering about this great person and that other scandalous man. Rumours and gossip was thrown liberally around like pasta at a 4 year old’s birthday party. Except 4 year olds usually have more decorum.

So yes, the lit fest events weren’t that great to us. On the bright side, Himal being the bundle of fun he usually is, entertained us early on in the trip by managing to tumble down the side of the fort ramparts, all optimus-prime-dying like. It was the funniest thing I’d seen all year.

It’s taken me nearly half an hour to write that child of a post. I have many tales to tell but so little time/inclination to do so. I also hope that I’ll have the energy to do so next time I decide to post, seeing as how I have no nutritional plan for the coming month.

Wish me luck! And lunch.