The Community Camera

A Handmaid News

Our retiring camera in need of a rest and a replacement.

Our retiring camera in need of a rest and a replacement.

Update: Someone has already donated the camera we placed on our wishlist and it is on it’s way! We are so grateful! However, in order to use this wonderful gift we also need the memory card and memory card reader. Should anyone wish to donate these two items, they can be found on our wishlist. Many, many thanks!

Our community camera, which we will refer to as “K” to avoid offending any manufacturers, now entering its tenth year of use, is finally showing signs of aging. Actually, it is on its last legs after outlasting two tripods, innumerable drops (mostly on carpets and fairly soft surfaces like grass), rains, snow, wind and New Mexico sun. After many thousands of photos as well as hours of video clips, it has indicated in no uncertain terms that it not only would like to retire but desires to transition to assisted living in the immediate future. It is probably still personally wounded that we tried to replace it with a HD point and shoot before we left New Mexico for Tennessee and would like to resentfully leave us in the lurch just as we set out on the next phase in the history of our move to New Market.

Rising, however briefly, to the challenge of documenting our arrival in Knoxville, K mustered all its reserves to outperform the newcomer in simple auto mode and we had to admit that K was better photo for photo. We were used to its familiar monastic slowness and comfortable grip, so we kept it in service recording all that we could of our first days in East Tennessee. It was really our fault. We confess that we had probably, as nuns are wont to do, lavished too much praise upon K in its early days as it was the first community camera that was digital. Undoubtedly, this only fed its pride and naturally made it prone to be a little defensive when the subject of replacements came up as its performance waned. We now only speak of the subject in its vicinity when the camera is safely in the off position. 

You see, if we could carry on a civil conversation with the apparatus, we might be able to explain nicely that a new camera would most surely capture colors as they really are. A few years ago, K began having some trouble with that. Any color that was a solid violet or purple, say Advent Wreaths, Advent and Lenten Vestments etc, would display on the computer as a deep but unmistakable blue. Liturgical fashions aside, we did not want to record events in our monastery looking as if we were pushing the liturgical decor envelope a little too far. So all the photos that looked blue either couldn’t be used (most all of them) or had to be manipulated on the computer manually to look a little bit like violet. As this is a sore point, we politely avoid discussing it rather than argue with the camera.

There is also the issue of sharpness. In its prime, the camera quickly focused on subjects properly and allowed us to photograph not only many of the beauties of monastic life within the monastery walls, but also the wonders of God’s creation about us in the Jemez Canyon walls and mesas of New Mexico where we were blessed to live. Eager to record the equally beautiful flora and fauna and hills of East Tennessee, we found the little camera now struggling to lock on a target to focus, eating up batteries very greedily, and generally responding sluggishly. Noise crept into the photos as well…something nuns are somewhat adverse to in the contemplative life.

To its credit, though we must avoid the topic of “the next camera” in its presence, when the camera is in the on position, K accepts its obvious period of diminishment and is ready for the next grace filled step that leads to the ultimate recycling bin. We could hardly ask for anything more after nearly 10,000 photos…

…except of course, for a replacement camera.

Seriously though, our vow of poverty has us very cautious in expenditures of any sort. High value items are researched thoroughly and considered and prayed about before spending what ultimately are funds from benefactors. Experience has demonstrated that automatically buying the cheapest for the sake of saving dollars usually is self-defeating. The poorer the quality, the more often it must be replaced costing more money in the long run. We apply the same logic to the Wish List. If we wish for an expensive item, we seek the best that can be purchased for the most affordable price desiring an item that will serve its purpose and last a long time. Our communications director, himself a photographer, reviewed and recommended this particular camera (found on the Amazon Wish List) as a good possibility for a replacement.

As always, with any gift to us, we borrow Saint Paul’s admonition that those who seek to be generous in assisting not impoverish themselves in the process. If God has blessed you with the means to help, we are grateful, but even if he hasn’t, we ask for your prayers which are more valuable to us than anything else.