Tracy Hallett s Island journal

 Canon Mkll

Standing on the slime-covered rocks at the edge of the Menai Strait, I cursed my new camera. The view was postcard perfect: a statue of Lord Nelson loomed over the fast-flowing water, while Thomas Telfordglorious suspension bridge dominated the mid-ground. Despite the obvious picture potential, I was inconsolable. Checking the LCD monitor it appeared that my images were hopelessly overexposed. My expletives would have sent any passing kayaker into an impromptu Eskimo roll. I checked the buttons and dials hoping to find something obviously out of place, but five minutes later I was none the wiser. My husband Dan, meanwhile, was happily firing away with his new toy (a Fuji X10), rushing over sporadically to show me perfectly exposed pictures full of detail and colour. This annoyed me greatly. must be something wrong with the in-camera light meter’, I declared, trying to quell my anger.

will have to go back’.

Four days later, still seething, I left the Canon EOS 5D Mkll at home in favour of a wetsuit and snorkel. Heading for the village of Rhoscolyn we talked about what we might find there: perhaps the beach would be empty and we could explore the rocky ledges in private; maybe there would be a tearoom with homemade cakes and lattes prepared with a ’coffee machine (one with a magic milk-frothing nozzle). Expectations were high. Having reached the end of the tarmac road, hot and in need of refreshments, we stepped onto the sand and promptly assessed our surroundings. To our left, an assortment of limp windbreaks added colour to the sun-bleached scene; to our right, holidaymakers were busy inflating dinghies and slipping on their lifejackets. In the distance, the faint glint of a disposable barbecue couldnfail to grab our attention. The dream and the reality were, we discovered, poles apart.

Deflated, we trudged to the end of the beach in silence. The bay was beautiful, there was no denying it, but having seen hundreds of sandy beaches over the last few years we have become unreasonably fussy. Without meaning to, I knew we were both making mental comparisons: the sea was clearer off the Isles of Scilly; the dunes were emptier in the Outer Hebrides; the wildlife was more varied in Northumberland. Hoping for better luck at nearby Trearddur Bay, we turned our backs on Rhoscolyn and prepared to climb the hill above the village. We had barely begun our ascent when we spotted a small sandy cove. It was irresistible. The water was deliciously blue, the cottages lining the shore glowed in the sunlight and, better still, the beach was empty. Exchanging a smile, we struggled into our wetsuits and stepped into the ocean. Beneath us strands of seaweed swayed gently from side to side, while baby jellyfish drifted into view like air bubbles. Suddenly, Dan called over from a nearby ledge. you cold? Ifreezing.

 Canon Mkll

This wetsuit is rubbish.’

On the long walk home I considered the consequences of having unrealistic expectations. Having spent a significant sum of money on a new DSLR I wanted it to be perfect. After reading reviews of Rhoscolyn beach I expected it to be idyllic. Having become accustomed to skinny lattes I assumed there would be a cafe. After listening to me singing the praises of my wetsuit, Dan presumed his suit would be faultless. Wenot entirely to blame for our unrealistic expectations. Advertisers continually tell us that their latest products are perfect,

indispensable and flawless. Meanwhile, travel writers wax lyrical about the finest, cleanest and most unspoilt beaches. Itnot surprising, then, that when we chase after the dream we are often disappointed by the reality. On some occasions, however, the fault for hyping expectation levels most definitely lies at our door.

Back at the apartment I decided to give the Canon EOS 5D Mkll one more chance to redeem itself. Viewing the ’images on the LCD monitor I was surprised to see that, indoors, they all looked well exposed and suitably punchy. The results were confirmed when I checked the histograms. Mystified,

I turned to the instruction manual for answers. Could it be a simple case of user error? Sure enough, page 162 confirmed that, by default, the brightness of the LCD monitor adjusts automatically depending on the light conditions. While my brain told me to trust the histograms, my heart had been unable to accept that the on-screen image would be so ’. Technology, it would seem, is far more intelligent than I am! Having purchased the camera a week before the trip, I assumed I would be able to pick it up and find my way around the dials, switches and menus instinctively. Not so. On this occasion I had formed unrealistic expectations about my own abilities. Perhaps ittime to get real, and do some serious swatting.

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