Musings on Photography


Posted in equipment, whimsy by Paul Butzi on September 21, 2007


Jody: We don’t know people.
Carl: It’s a mystery, Jody. Like people who knowingly buy jackets with fringe on them. It’s an absolute mystery.

-from Lonely Planet, by Stephen Dietz

Some things are mysteries. Here are the ones that currently came to my attention:
The day before yesterday, my friend Bryan loaned me some SDHC flash memory cards – the same form factor as regular SD cards, but a new interface. I observed to Bryan that these cards were quite small, and Bryan warned that he had already lost one SD card on his desk, and I might want to be careful.

So yesterday, the Canon G9 arrived, and I got out the cards, and put one in the camera, and did a bunch of tests. The tests, of course, involved taking the card out of the camera and putting it in a USB SD card reader. In one case, I foolishly took the card out of the camera, but couldn’t reach the card reader, and I set the card down on my desk. Naturally, it vanished instantly. I had to clear all the items off my desk to find it. It was hiding under the HP 48G calculator, about two feet from where I put it down. Don’t ask, it’s a mystery.

These SD cards really are tiny. And, for reasons I cannot fathom, they’re black. I’m trying to imagine the thought process of the feckless idiot who made that decision. “Hmm. Today my job is to pick the color for this expensive, lightweight device which will hold images that might well be irreplaceable. Let me ponder my choices. I could choose a color which will contrast with all the colors which occur out in the world. International Distress Orange, for instance – a color specifically chosen for visibility, contrast with likely surroundings, and tuned to the strengths of the human visual system. Or, I might choose that jarring fluorescent bilious yellow-green that they paint fire engines these days. Or, I could choose BLACK. Black will mean that this small, expensive, very valuable but easily fumbled item will be maximally hard to find when dropped on the ground, or on the carpet in a hotel room with lights that are bolted down and cannot be made to shine on the floor. Black will mean that this small, expensive, highly valuable item will be hard to spot in any kind of visual clutter, such as that found on most desks everywhere in the civilized world. I know – I’ll choose BLACK.”

And it’s not just SD cards. Camera cases – equally a mystery. Is there really someone so foolish that they are considering the options for exterior color, and they think “I know – I’ll choose BLACK. That way, when the bag is sitting in the sun, the expensive, valuable, and sensitive equipment in this bag will get maximally HOT. And just for yuks, I’ll make the inside of the bag a dark gray, because that way, no one will be able to see the dirt! Sure, they won’t be able to find things in the bag, but that’s not important, because everything inside will have been destroyed by the heat and by the dirt that they can’t see!”

Black SD cards. Black camera bags with dark grey interiors. Sigh. There’s just so much world out there, and so much of it is just a mystery.

[side note: I understand that fringe serves a practical purpose on a jacket. I didn’t pick that metaphor, Stephen Dietz did. Despite this fault, Lonely Planet remains one of the best plays ever.]

7 Responses

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  1. Jon Fitch said, on September 22, 2007 at 6:21 am

    Put a line of orange paint on the black side of the card. Make it thin, but it should work.

  2. Dave Beckerman said, on September 22, 2007 at 6:48 am

    Once you have to decide about a color, such as red, green, or blue – you get into a marketing problem of huge dimensions. If you choose red, and all other manufacturers are making them in black – then you may lose the consumers who favor green or blue.

    Also – I think that black denotes a serious technological device. As I look around at all the gadgets attached to my computer, they’re all black, or gray. What if the monolith in 2001 had been pink? The entire movie would have been a disaster.

    If a company decided to make an SD card yellow, they’d be messing with the fundamental commercial rules of the universe.

  3. Paul Butzi said, on September 22, 2007 at 3:11 pm


    Ah. Marketing.

    So you’re saying that this marketing guy got the first sample of a black SD card, and he showed it to his friends, and said “It’s like, how much more black could it be? And the answer is none. None more black.”

    (from “This is Spinal Tap”)

  4. Ann said, on September 22, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    I wrapped my CF (black) wallet with fluorescent orange tape exactly because I couldn’t find it in the dark, amongst the (black) lenses, hoods, flashes, and just plain stuff in that (black) bag. Not to mention on (or under) the car seat when things start happening too fast.

    My (black) headlamp sports a yellow reflector on the battery pack. If it’s black, I’ve “improved” it somehow. I keep a silver sharpie in my arsenal for exactly this purpose.

    Any snowboarder will tell you, pink is the new black. I’d pay extra for a metal-flake violet camera body. AT

  5. Dave Beckerman said, on September 23, 2007 at 8:27 am

    Yes all. If apple begins making SD cards they will be available in fashionable colors, and will become a visible part of the camera (clear plastic to show the SD card at all times.) Once that catches on they will expand their SD line to include SD multi-colored necklaces and arm patches. Then as the final coup de grace they will make the SD cards beepable – so that if you lose it, you can use your iPhone to find it.

  6. Charlie Heuer said, on November 7, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    Ok I am stumped, what purpose does fringe serve on a jacket?

  7. Paul Butzi said, on November 7, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    Fringe keeps water from streaming down the surfaces of the jacket. That is, rain falls on the shoulders, runs down the sleeve to the fringe tips, and then drips off, instead of running the length of the arm and dripping onto your hands. Likewise, fringe on the front and back of the jacket flings water off and prevents it running down to your waist and onto your pants.

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