Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Products and aphorisms

click photo to enlarge
"You get what you pay for" is a common aphorism to which the majority of people would subscribe, and like most sayings of its kind, it embodies some truth. However, like many other pieces of homespun wisdom there are times when it is very wide of the mark.

Anyone buying a gas fire, a vacuum cleaner, or a set of wine glasses, might reasonably expect that paying more money would result in a purchase that is better designed, has greater reliability, lasts longer, and functions at a higher level than a cheaper product. In the fairly recent past I've bought all those items. The fire was expensive, stylish in a "hole in the wall sort of way", and gives good heat. But the high-tech method of ignition is ineffective, and there is no back-up system for when it refuses to work as designed. A cheaper fire would undoubtedly have been more reliable. My vacuum cleaner is a Dyson, and for all its its design awards has fundamental flaws. Not only is the styling "kiddy-lurid", the cord is low quality: it cracked, shorted, and melted the plastic! The extending tube is flimsy, has also broken, and is expensive to replace. Repairing the on/off switch that failed required me to crack part of the casing open because screws barely feature in its construction. This expensive machine will have a relatively short lifespan despite my surgery. Finally, the other day I bought two packs of 4 "cafe style" wine glasses for 89p a pack. They have an elegant, classic design, and are a pleasure to use. My cut-glass crystal wine glasses which must have cost ten or twenty times as much, look no better (I would say worse), are too tall, hence not sufficiently stable, and sit on a shelf gathering dust!

A dull day found me photographing my newly acquired glasses, trying to get a "different" composition out of them. My image shows part of two, one upside down, in what I hope is an asymmetrical but balanced composition. I used a 70mm (35mm equivalent) macro lens and a dedicated flash bounced off a piece of white fibreboard. The camera was set to Aperture Priority (f18 at 1/80 sec), ISO 100 and -0.3EV. I did extensive post processing, and turned the slight blue cast deeper by manipulation of Curves.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen