I was playing with a camera this morning, trying to capture flowers in the morning light. In the middle of this artistic endeavor, I had a minor, yet memorable techno-crisis. It is a classic example of the kind of problems that beset us because of the technology on which we depend.

I’ve been taking pictures for more than 40 years. I know my way around a camera.

My first cameras were mechanical. Film. I took a lot of rolls of black and white because I could develop black and white film. A lot cheaper than sending it out to a lab. I also did my own printing, mounting, and framing, though I’ve completely forgotten how.

Olympus PEN PL-5

The only electronic part of those film cameras might be the light meter. My first half-dozen cameras didn’t have built-in light meters, so I used a Weston Master V. It was a standard part of my equipment for years. If I forgot it, the piece of paper that came with Kodak film was a pretty good substitute. We affectionately called it “the paper light meter.”

A while back, I bought a handheld meter almost exactly like the one I used for so many years — and realized I had no idea what to do with it. It has been a long time.

Pentax Q7 plus lenses camera

Cameras might break and need repair, cleaning, or adjustment, but basically, there wasn’t much to go wrong. As long as you didn’t drop it, soak it in salt water, or spill coffee in it, it could last forever. To prove my point, there are a surprising number of these old film cameras still in use.

There weren’t many moving parts: shutter, film winding mechanism. You set film speed (ISO), shutter speed, f-stop. Aim, frame, focus, press the shutter. Voila. Photograph.

Today, my camera wakes me in the morning and starts the coffee. If I ask nicely, it will do the grocery shopping, though it draws the line at laundry. Not really. But close enough.


If something goes wrong, it’s crazy time.

This morning, I removed the lens cap and turned the camera on. I unlocked the lens. The menu came on, but no picture appeared. Flashing on the screen was something I’d never seen before. Without a clue what it meant, I double-checked to make sure I really had removed the lens cap. I had.

So I did what I do with my computer. I rebooted. I turned it off, waited, then turned it back on.

More flashing. No picture.


I removed the battery and the memory card, counted to twenty. Put them back. Still flashing. Still no picture.

By now, I was in full panic mode. My camera wasn’t working. Fear gripped me. Eventually, it occurred to me to check whether or not the lens was properly seated.

Click. The flashing stopped. A picture appeared. The lens had been loose. I must have accidentally pressed the lens release button, so it wasn’t quite locked. Ergo ipso, the camera wouldn’t work.


With all the ridiculous, useless functions built into modern cameras, how come they don’t have anything that alerts you that the lens is loose? Or for that matter, that your battery is about to die? The next time someone is adding bells and whistles to the software, please consider adding something useful. If necessary, remove one of the many pointless menu options and add something we might use.

I felt like a moron. Then, I took some pictures.


Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge – Week 27

Odd Ball Photos are those pictures we take which don’t to fit into a tidy category. This week, I went out to my deck to see what I could find. A few oddities emerged.

A grill thermometer

A grill thermometer

Stone frog sun dial

Stone frog sun-dial

The longer lens - Olympus PEN PL-5

The longer lens – Olympus PEN PL-5


I have wanted to get a long lens for my Olympus cameras for quite a while. I have had the Olympus f4 40-140mm lens for years. I got it as part of a kit, but never enjoyed it. I don’t know why I don’t like it, but I don’t. The pictures come out well enough, but it’s not fun to use.

fuchsia june 2015

Finally, I gave in and bought the Panasonic 45-150 mm. Like the Olympus lens, it is slow (f4) which makes it useful only outdoors. But it is smoother, focuses more crisply, and has — to my eyes — a more attractive bokeh.

Here is early summer from the deck. Through the long lens, on a bright June afternoon.


A couple of days ago, my new 60 mm Olympus macro lens arrived. I didn’t expect it so quickly. I’ve been lusting after this lens for years. Olympus finally dropped the price by $100. I bought it.

I unpacked it, attached it to the new Olympus PEN PL-6. I moved the 20 mm lens to a different camera and put the 40-150 zoom into a pouch because that’s the lens I never use.

I decided to put together a “grab and go” bag of Olympus equipment, but the bag was too small.

Camera bags

After a lot of pulling things out and repacking, I knew a full equipment reorganization was the answer. The big bag I’d been using for “spare parts” moved up to lead camera bag. Previous number one became the grab and go bag.

By the time I finished reorganizing the equipment, I was too tired to take pictures. But I took some yesterday morning — the camera bags and the fuchsia were taken with the new lens.

Today, Garry and I are on a photo shoot in Boston. 
Just to let you know, I'm off-line all day.

The good news? I found a place for everything, sort of. I’m careful with equipment. Every camera, lens, widget, and gadget has a clean, padded place to live. But it’s an incoherent solution. Too much stuff in too many containers. I need one large box with a lid to put cables, cords, wires, connectors, lens backs, flash attachments, filters in a place where I might find them should I actually need something.

empty equipment boxes

The empty box situation is out of control. In recognition that I need to deal with it, I piled the empty boxes on my desk chair. Each time I go in there, it will remind me to reconsider the box situation.

Alternatively, I could avoid the room. Just close the door. It would bother me only when I have to put something away or retrieve something. Which would probably be every day.

Or I could deal with the boxes.

I have the original box from every camera, lens, cell phone, and accessory I’ve bought since 2000, when we moved into this house. The theory is that original boxes make equipment more valuable on resale. Except, I’m not going to sell anything. I already know that. So what’s the point? Why am I keeping the boxes? For that matter, why do I have software and manuals from the 1990s?

Maybe I can re-purpose one of my sweater boxes for spare stuff. Even though I don’t need and won’t use any of it. Anyway, if I re-purpose a sweater box, what will I do with the sweaters?

I’ll think about that later.

My first macro shot. Not too bad.

My first macro shot. Not too bad.

Among the many things I don’t want to think about are trunks filled with doll parts and clothing for antique and collectible dolls. For that matter, one of the closets in my office holds a couple of dozen (small) Madame Alexander dolls from the 1950s and 1960s. In original boxes with tags. Properly stored, face down, so their eyes won’t stick or fall back into their heads. But the poor girls have no place to go.

Another macros hot of fuchsia buds

Another macro shot of fuchsia buds

I would happily give them away, but kids don’t want dolls like that these days. These are relatively common dolls, as old plastic dolls go. They aren’t worth huge money. Antiques and collectibles are the ultimate goodfer. I don’t suppose anyone out there collects dolls and would like a lot of dolls and related stuff? You pay the shipping and it’s yours. Free.

Then, there’s the crate containing books I wrote, the evidence I worked for a living. The books have no value — other than sentimental — because I’m never going on another job interview. Ever. I’m retired.

My office has become a closet. Not disorderly or dirty. Just full.

It comes round to the same point at which I started. I do NOT need another bag. I need to get rid of stuff. I can’t seem to do it. It’s a disease, a disability.

Is there a 12-step program?


Share Your World – 2015 Week #8

Your favorite blog post that you have written? (add link)

My personal favorite is not my most popular, but I think it’s the funniest. It makes me laugh each time I read it. “Oy Vay! Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” was written in response to one of the Daily Prompts.

For those who don’t remember, back in the good old days, WordPress issued writing prompts every day. They were fresh, sometimes clever or funny. A bunch of us enjoyed writing them, then seeing what others had done using the same prompt.

sepia monochrome coffee kitchen

What do you feel is the most enjoyable way to spend $500? Why?

I’m absolutely, completely, totally, and redundantly torn between a weekend somewhere with Garry or a piece of camera gear. Maybe a lens. Or, if I shop carefully, a whole camera. Making this choice would be delightful. I would be happy with either outcome. Rarely in my life has my problem been how to dispose of money. It has always had a way of disposing itself, quickly and effectively.

If you could know the answer to any question, besides “What is the meaning of life?”, what would it be?

Um … can I take “the meaning of life,” for 500, Alex? I think I already have the answer. In the immortal words of Bill Belichick, “It is what it is.”

Where do you eat breakfast?

soft focus art effect kitchen vertical

Like so many of us, I plead guilty to drinking my coffee and munching a few cookies while checking my email and comments. In my defense, I only use cups with screw-on lids and have a sealed keyboard so crumbs don’t become permanent residents.


Marilyn Armstrong:

An excellent review of a camera I hope to buy. Superb technology at a fair price. Olympus. My favorite cameras.

Originally posted on atmtx photo blog:

Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ lens

Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ lens

Do you want a more detailed review? Please continue reading.

I like to start by thanking Charles from Olympus for letting me use the camera for an extended period. I shot this camera on many occasions and have even blogged about it couple of times (here and here), several months ago. If you read those early posts, you know that I often shot the E-M10 alongside my Fujifilm X100S that I purchased around the same time.

By almost every measure, the Olympus E-M10 is superior to the Fuji X100S. It focuses faster, the EVF works better, it’s more flexible and it has interchangeable lenses. I’ll give the Fuji the edge for high ISO quality and it’s probably a bit sharper. However, I’m splitting hairs here. For most people, you won’t notice a difference. Color wise, they both have their advantages…

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