Confessions of a middle-aged biped, without lycra
FOR men who hit 40, it is a predictable path. Lycra bike trips at dawn on Sunday. Springsteen concerts. iPad keyboard cases.
But there is now another option for the middle-aged man in search of a pastime. Full-size cameras are attracting growing numbers of Blokes Into Photography, Especially DSLRs (Bipeds). These forty-somethings increasingly find solace in apertures, focal lengths, shutter speeds and prime lenses. I should know: I have fallen head over heels into the Biped stereotype. Where once I owned punks in Grand Theft Auto, now I peer into nano-coated aspherical lenses with wonder.
I am not alone. All across the country, fellow Bipeds are rapidly springing up.
Happily, Bipeds enjoy many perks. Here are four clear examples.
1. Welcome to your digital potting shed
As an aspiring amateur photographer, you now get to spend time on your art. That means a custom desk with a great desktop machine (probably an iMac), loads of hard-drives and an Aladdin's Cave of software to tinker around with. Because, as every learner Biped is allowed to assert, taking the picture is just 50pc of the job. There is quality control: editing software must be opened and pictures cropped, lightened, darkened or filtered. And even when those basics are applied, it behoves any self-respecting Biped to start experimenting with new formats or post-production techniques. All of which solemnly requires an hour or two away from ordinary household duties and home-improvement projects.
2. There are gadgetastic accessories and doodahs aplenty
For those who enjoy the seduction of further hardware and accessory options, photography provides a deep well of kit to lust after. It's not just the choice of additional lenses, although this category alone will keep you wide-eyed for at least three years. It's all of the other stuff that can add something extra to a shot. From intervalometers that allow your camera to make beautiful time-lapse photo-movies to bags, lights and lens filters, you'll never be stuck for something to look to when your birthday or Christmas comes around. And that's before you start thinking about the (inevitable) upgrade to the €2,000 'full frame' shooter that is every Biped's aspirational destiny.
3. You become a family MVP
Birthdays. Christenings. Communions. Sure, everyone has an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. But while these are fine for snaps, they are rarely any better than fine: the Biped's shoulder-holstered weapon will almost always trump the casual snappers around you. As such, your shots quickly become both the definitive mementos of the occasion and framed prints on people's walls. This establishes an important role for you at such events ("Will Seán be there? Oh, could you tell him to bring his camera? He took a lovely shot of young Amy the last time."), which may or may not also negate other, less pleasant tasks you might have been drafted in to do.
4. It's genuinely rewarding
Leaving aside the logistical, lifestyle and strategic benefits to becoming a Biped, there are real moments of happiness, beauty and achievement. There is something special about capturing a close portrait of a friend or family member. (Parents of young kids are especially touched at a high-quality shot of their child.) There is also a genuine sense of community when a shot you take becomes someone's Facebook ID pic. Photographs are frequently beautiful. The end result of your pottering pixel indulgences is a thing to be admired.
The bottom line: I don't judge those who don the lycra.
So don't judge me for my addiction to pixels.