Thursday, March 26, 2009

Milk, choice and cars

click photo to enlarge
"Any customer can have a car painted any colour he wants, so long as it's black"
said of the Model T by Henry Ford (1863-1947), U.S. industrialist

A supermarket that I shop at sells various kinds of milk. Nothing wrong with that you might think; some prefer full cream and others skimmed. However, it's not that choice that puzzles me, rather it's the choice between two different kinds of semi-skimmed milk in cartons holding the same quantity. What's the difference between them? Well, one is quite a bit cheaper than the other. Now I'm used to being presented with choice in foodstuffs where the quality (and hence, price) is measurably different, but how does that work with milk? The sell-by dates are no different, the colour is the same, and both (presumably) conform to the quantity of fat that should be in this kind of milk. I've puzzled over this one for a while. Are the cows that produce the more expensive milk "a cut above", refined, aloof even, the sort that wouldn't say moo to a goose? Do they feed on only the sweetest grass and hand-picked fodder? Or is it just a crazy extension of the idea of choice into an area where it's plainly ridiculous? Is it a way of getting a few pence more from the pretentious who like to think that their cuppa is laced with milk that's a touch superior to that of the proles?

I think I'm one of many people who has got fed up with being offered too much choice. Do I really want to waste my life agonising over 30 different DSLRs that all take perfectly good photographs? Or compare the merits of one lemonade with the eight other offerings on the shelf? And don't get me started on potato crisps (chips): why do we need a complete aisle devoted to the many incarnations of this fat-laden snack? There are times when I think Henry Ford had it right - one colour for cars would suit me. In fact I've only ever owned red, blue and silver cars. These happen to be the commonest colors in the past few decades, and I read that silver outsells all others by a big margin at the moment. Just how much would we be missing if you could have any colour you wanted so long as it was silver? All your transport needs would still be met. But, I suppose the posing needs of some wouldn't be!

Today's photograph shows the residue of a rain shower on the metallic silver of my car - a colour that I alighted on quite incidentally because it was the only model the dealer had in stock. It looks like a particularly grainy image in need of noise suppression, but the dots are just the flecks in the paint that produce the metallic look.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm macro (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f11
Shutter Speed: 1/125 seconds
ISO: 200
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On