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10 Innovative Ways I have used my digital camera.
30 July 2009

I was recently reading about innovative ways to use a digital camera.  I immediately thought to myself "I own a digital camera and I'm innovative" but I couldn't think of any specific examples.  I asked my wife Valerie if she could think of any innovative pictures I had taken with the camera.  She laughed at me.  So, to prove her wrong, I made a list of 10 innovative ways I have used my camera.  I don't know how innovative the ideas are but they are all real-life examples and have proven to be useful.

Directions 1) Driving directions - Our rural Hawaii roads are very poorly marked.  For example, maps show our road as Bishop Road but the sign out front says Old Poi Factory Road.  There are lots of other turns with no signs at all.  It really helps to have photos and tips like "turn right at the chickens."  Farm tours go much smoother when the guests can find their way here.
Timing Gears 2) Tractor overhaul - I recently overhauled my cheap Chinese tractor.  The tractor is poorly engineered and the manual is in Engrish.  Luckily, when disassembling the timing gears, I was smart enough to take a picture first.  Without that reference it would have been nearly impossible to reassemble the tractor properly.
Squished 3) Product quality - We ship fresh 100% Kona coffee through the mail and occasionally we have some customers that are concerned about their coffee arriving damage free.  The post office likes to squish the coffee.  I could explain the problem but it was easier and more effective to simply take a picture.  When customers know exactly what to expect, it really helps prevent unnecessary returns of perfectly good coffee.
Digging 4) What to expect - We sometimes get volunteers interested in working on the farm.  Being in Hawaii, some people think it will be more of a vacation.  Thanks to my digital camera, I have a lot of pictures on what kind of work they can expect while here.  That has substantially cut down on the number of free loaders inquiring about "working" on the farm.
Wiring 5) Electrician Wanted - When trying to wire my new coffee pulper from Colombia, I spoke with every electrician on the island but none of them could help.  After posting a picture of the problem, a friend's father, who worked for mining companies as an electrician, responded with the answer I was looking for.  There's no way I could have solved the problem without the help of digital photos.
6) Barn Design - When designing my barn, digital photography helped me prototype how the barn would eventually look.  Virtual pictures were very helpful when describing things to building inspectors, work crews and friends.  For example, I could try out different door designs before actually building one.
Cattle 7) Trespassing Cattle - We had a problem with cattle from the neighboring ranch destroying our coffee.  Discussions with the rancher and the police went nowhere.  Luckily my accumulated photographic evidence provided enough proof that legal action was avoided.  In the end, a few photos saved me thousands of dollars.
Party 8) Party Invitations - For the kids, a fun party game is a photo treasure hunt.  For example, they'll start with a picture of the water tank.  At the water tank they'll find a picture of the top of the avocado tree.  Up in the tree is a picture of the chicken coop...  keeps the kids busy for hours.
Jump 9) Flying Farmer - Sometimes a little Photoshop work can provide lots of fun.  When the cable repairman was replacing our modem he saw this picture on my computer.  He was convinced that I actually jumped off the three story high barn roof.  I finally explained that the photo was faked because I didn't want him going home and jumping off his roof with nothing but an umbrella.
10) Time Lapse - I've always been fascinated by time-lapse photography.  I used to only see it on Sesame Street but now it's everywhere.  The idea is common but there's still plenty of room for creative work.  It's easiest if your camera has an "intervalometer" so you can take photos at set intervals.  I once made a movie of our daughter zooming around the yard in her magic sled with nobody pulling it but I seem to have lost the video.  So here are some of my favorites that I can find.
Coffee 11) Product Marketing - This last one doesn't really count because it is shamless self promotion rather than an innovative idea.  Still, it always amazes me how many people try to sell stuff online without good pictures of the product.  If you don't own a digital camera then don't sell stuff on EBay.  If you're a realtor or own an online business, either learn how to use your digital camera or hire a professional.  I try to take pictures of our coffee and the farm so people know what they're buying as well as where it came from.  When shopping online, I think being able to see a picture really helps.

Update:  This post was inspired by a similar article on digital camera uses.

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