Geek Girl

Mastery or tools?

I’ve been thinking about upgrading to a new camera body for a long, long time now. It’s not that my current Canon 400D is not working fine – on the contrary, it’s been a great road warrior for the past three years. Ever since I switched to my Tammy lens, I’ve seen a great improvement on the quality of the pictures.

And yet the one thing that is holding me back is my self-perceived lack of skills.

I don’t think I am a great photographer and I keep wondering if I deserve to splurge $2K a high-end camera like the 7D (husband is convinced that the 50D is not worth the money). It always boils down to the question of skills versus tools. Undoubtedly, a good tool can only be fully utilised if the hand holding it is skillful. Otherwise, it will never achieve its full potential. Do I have the necessary skills or knowledge to handle such a solid piece of equipment?

On the other hand, can a tool help to improve the owner’s skillset? Will I become a better photographer with a good camera in my hands? I had the same conversation with my photographer friend Alwyn and his take is that with a good camera, even if your pictures turn out to be crap, at least they are good looking crap. Well, that’s one way of looking at it, I guess.

I have never thought that my so-called good pictures were due to skills or technique; they were simply borne out of luck. One of my favourite pictures taken at Haji Lane, for instance, was taken when we were leaving the place. I turned around, stuck a camera up and snapped without thinking. I didn’t think about lighting or angle or composition. I just clicked the shutter. For every nice picture like that, there are probably 15 duds that I never bothered to process.

I’ve asked myself several times: did I become a better baker after we got the KitchenAid? I’m not sure – but I do know that I started to bake more and I became a more efficient baker.

I highly suspect I will continue to be stuck in this dilemma for a while longer. Come back here in another six months and I will probably be still hemming and hawing over it. Well, blame it on my Feeling preferences. It’s been proven that I decide with my heart, not my brains!


Happy meal #17: Lemonade

I know, lemonade is not really a meal in itself but I figured that given the amount of effort one needs to exert in order to get a jug of it, surely it can be ranked on par with food. Trust me, trying to wring a lemon dry is like trying to break Arnie’s hand while you are shaking it – IMPOSSIBLE.

This may look nice and dandy:

Delicious jug of Vitamin C

but it sure took a hell lot of strength to get there.


What you need:

  • 6 lemons (or enough juice to fill 1 cup)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of sugar (I used 3/4 cup instead because I didn’t want it to be too sweet)
  • Zest of 1 lemon


  • Combine sugar, zest, water and lemon juice in a sauce pan
  • Heat over a gentle flame for about 5 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved to form a syrup
  • Add cold water to syrup for lemonade, depending on your taste, and remember to add lots of ice!

As simple as that! Or so it sounds. I had to call for reinforcement in the form of a husband who was mopping the floor. Squeeze the lemon as hard as you can, I instructed. He did and, oh, two drops of juice dripped out into the bowl? (Don’t worry, he washed his hands before doing that. Or did he?)

I’ve read that sticking the lemons into a microwave oven for one minute can help to release the juice but we don’t have one at home so I had to settle for the old fashioned “roll the lemon on the countertop using your entire body weight” method. Then, there was also the hassle of getting all the seeds out of the juice. Messy, messy.

But the end result, I was told, was worth it. Just remember the ratio of one (cup of juice) : one (cup of sugar) : one (cup of water). Works everytime.

When life hands you lemons...
...chop them up and squeeze them dry!
The zesty bits