When the announcer got to the fourth column of names on the graduation list, Greg got up. Camera in hand, my brother worked his way out of the bleachers. He joined other parents slowly edging their way up to the front, near the stage.
And when my niece, Jennifer, walked across, Greg started snapping shots as his daughter crossed another threshold into adulthood.
Like other parents around him, Greg also had crossed a technology threshold -- he'd graduated to digital photography.
"I got a ViviCam something or other," my brother told me later about his digital camera (ViviCam 3550, 1.3 megapixels). "I've had it for about eight months. It's mainly just for taking pictures around the house and saving them on a disk," he said.
He took about 40 photos during the graduation -- putting them on a 128 megabyte memory card.
If you're considering a digital camera, get one with at least a 1 megapixel (1 million pixels) CCD sensor (charge-couple device), if you want to make prints. The higher the resolution, the better quality of print you can make.
For 8-by-10 prints, you'll want 2 megapixels or better, says, Tanner Wycoff, of Image Works, 711 W. 23rd.
Wycoff told me you can get a good 2- to 3-megapixel camera for between $250 and $350.
You'll also want a memory card to go with your camera, which come in sizes of 32, 64 and 128 MB. You can also get a card reader to save on your camera's battery life.
Also, pay more attention to a camera's optical zoom rather than its digital zoom, which is more of a gimmick, Wycoff said.
Slim and trim
If you take half a standard deck of playing cards, that's about the dimensions of Casio's Exilim models.
The Exilim EX-S2, which is a 2.0 megapixel camera, comes with a 4X digitial zoom lens and a built-in flash.
It also will record short video and sound clips, which adds to its versatility. The cost: $279.
For about $100 more, you can get the EX-Z2, which has a Pentax lens with a 3X optical zoom and a 3.2-megapixel resolution.
If you're willing to spend a little more and get a higher resolution camera that allows you to be more creative, you might consider the brand new Olympus C-750 Ultra Zoom. The cost is about $600.
It's a 4.0-megapixel CCD camera with an aspherical extra-dispersion glass lens designed to create an even exposure and higher quality images.
The camera's big selling point is that it has a 40X combined optical and digital zoom.
It also puts out QuickTime movies with sound and it gives you manual controls. And it has a hot shoe to let you add your own flash.
If you're interested in getting a professional-quality digital camera, you might check out the Canon EOS 1-D. It provides 11.10 megapixel resolution, but you REALLY pay for the quality. The price tag is $8,000.
Another high-end camera coming out is Kodak's DCS-14n, which has a 14 megapixel resolution using a CMOS full-framed sensor chip. It's priced at $5,000.
There's a detailed comparative review of the two cameras at www.dpreview.com if you're serious about your photography.
Foibles of film
"Stand over by the tree," Greg told Jennifer. She patiently held her smile as she was posed in her cap and gown with her three brothers, her parents, her grandmother and other relatives.
"OK, now the godparents," Greg told me as my wife and I took our turn by the tree.
"Let's see how it looks," Greg said as we finished cheesing it up. "Uh-oh, it's off center. But that's OK because we can crop it on the computer."
"That's the good thing about digital -- you can tell what you got," Greg said, checking the LCD screen. "You can't do that with film."
That reminds me. I shot a lot of rolls of film last year at my daughter Katy's high school graduation. I still need to get it developed -- hopefully before she graduates from college.