Fame With Obscurity: A Peculiar Achievement

I am occasionally stunned by how many hits I got on a single day. It happens intermittently, usually when this season’s premier episode of Criminal Minds is being shown as a rerun here or in some other English-speaking country. This little post about a bunch of FBI profilers shows up at the top of a specifically worded Google search. Whenever that episode plays somewhere and people go looking for combination of words, bingo. There’s my site, at the top of the search and I get a little flood of hits.

The_12-Foot_Teepee_Cover_for_Kindle

I used to wonder what caused that sudden burst of interest in my site. Now I know  immediately that somewhere, that episode is playing and once again I’ve been discovered … but only for about an hour. These one-time visitors don’t become (usually) followers. They come, they read. Then they leave and forget me.

When I look at my statistics, those individual bars of hits loom far above the other bars representing numbers of hits for a day.

This could have been my 15 minutes of fame, except that no one knows who I am unless they already know me, in which case, they probably are not looking for me via a Google search. I thus succeeded in being secretly famous.

I pondered this conundrum for a while, mulling over how I ended up an anonymous writer. I never wanted anonymity. I post my picture and I sign my name to emails from readers when they write to me. It just sort of happened.

The search that did it.

Some years ago, I began using “Teepee12” as my Internet “handle” because it reminds me that I wrote and published a booked entitled “The 12-Foot Teepee.” Virtually no one is buying the book these days — not that it was ever a best-seller — so using this is a way of keeping in touch with an important piece of my personal history. My book is obscure. Really obscure. No one who isn’t a close friend or one of the few hundred other souls who read the book would associate Teepee12 with me. It never crossed my mind that this would ever make a difference in my life. No one gives you advice on this when you are choosing your online or website name.

So I figured I should add my name to my website. I don’t want to change the site name: I like it. Serendipity is so appropriate. I write with extreme serendipity. Not only can you not predict what I’ll write about, but I have no idea what I’m going to write about. I may not know what I’m going to say until it falls out of my fingers into the keyboard.

I’ve been “Teepee12” for years. I felt odd naming the blog after myself. It’s wasn’t humility, more like bashfulness. Or just ignorance. It was an accident. I tried to fix the problem by putting my real name on my blog. It’s on the masthead, or whatever we call the top of our first page in the blogosphere. It doesn’t matter. I remain Teepee12 and expect always will be.

I guess I blew it. I missed my fifteen minutes. If you know me, you are laughing. I’m laughing too. It’s just how my life goes. I should have guessed it would be this way.

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Buying the camera instead of the lens — Updated!

This is the story of how and why I didn’t buy a Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 prime lens for my Olympus PENs and instead bought the Canon PowerShot S100. I got the camera in basic black because I’m a traditionalist. Black goes with everything and it cost $50 less than the identical camera in silver (why?). Not only is this the story of how and why I bought it, but how well it has worked out and how glad I am I bought it. I really don’t know how I did without it. I think if I had to pick just one camera, this would be the one I would choose … and that is saying a lot. Okay, maybe it would be the new Olympus PM2. But maybe not.

Powershot100

It took me a year to work this out. Many people, including myself, have pointed out I have a plenty of cameras and accessories, so why in the world do I need or want another? It’s a valid question. I’ve given it a lot of thought.

Secretly or not-so-secretly, we all want the new camera

To the last man and woman, we are gadget freaks. We love’em, can’t get enough of ’em.

Too  many? No way. There is no “too many.” No photographer can have too many cameras, even if we have dozens of cameras including ones we never use or haven’t touched in years. It may appear to the non-initiate as if we have excess equipment, but each piece plays a unique role. Like children in a large family, no two are the same. Each has a special destiny, a niche, a purpose. Although a small degree of overlap may exist, it is surprisingly little.

Someday they will make a camera that will do it all … and I will not be able to afford it. Life can be cruel.

The Collection

The foundation of my equipment is a trio of Olympus PEN cameras. The PL-1 was my original camera. It’s a few years old and plays backup for the newer E-P3 and the even newer PM2. I got the Olympus 40-150 zoom when I got the PL-1 as well as one of my two 14-42 Olympus lenses. More recently, I bought the 45mm F/1.8 Oly portrait lens. I love it so much it makes my  heart flutter thinking about it.

OlyPEN EPM-2

Last, but far from least, I added the Panasonic LUMIX 14mm f/2.5. It’s pretty fast, decently wide, an all around excellent landscape lens. Since that’s mostly what  I shoot, this is an extremely useful lens.

Also notice my amazing camera bag. It’s the Opteka Canvas Weatherproof bag that holds every piece of camera equipment I own and can actually also carry the tripod I never use. It has its own raincoat that lives in a hidden pocket at the bottom of the bag. I have the medium and small version of the bag too. I love it in all three sizes and finally feel I have what I need. It sure took long enough.

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Next up, meet the Canon Powershot SX260 HS with its 20X zoom, f/3.5-6.8. Until the s100, it was the go everywhere camera. Light and small, it has a lens that zooms from moderately wide  to very long (about 300 feet). I do more grabbing and going than planning and organizing, so it has gotten a lot of use. It’s also a great camera when you don’t know what you’ll need. That super zoom comes in very useful. As do all the Powershot cameras, it focuses fast, is easy on batteries and small enough to slip into a pocket. It’s a fine  little camera until the sun goes down. Then, its maximum aperture of f/3.5 becomes a problem.

Enter the Canon PowerShot S100 . It can shoot JPG and RAW (as do the PENs, but not the 260). This isn’t always important, but it can be.  The lens is not as long as the 260, but it’s much faster — maximum aperture f/2.0 versus f/3.5. In low light, it’s the difference between getting the shot and not. I carry it everywhere I go and as a result, it is the camera I use the most. It may not be the best camera — that honor goes to the PM2 — but it is the camera that is always at hand. There’s a saying that the best camera is the one you have with you. This is that camera.

In the end, after sifting through all the possible permutations and arguing with myself about “need” versus “want very much,” the decision was between getting the Panasonic LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 lens ($348) for the PENs, or the Canon PowerShot S100 ($279 minus some coupons I had from Amazon).

The Panny 20 is a fast 40mm lens (in practical terms) that many photographers who work with micro 4/3 cameras use as a normal. It’s ultra compact, ultra light  and renowned for high quality optics. I eventually dissected my reluctance to buy it and came up with a simple answer. I don’t like its 40mm length.

It is a bit on the wide-angle side of normal. This means if I use it to photograph people, they will look a little wider than they really are. No big deal you say? Are you kidding? Whatever other truths exist about photography, there is one global truth: No one wants to look fat in a photograph.

A little bit extra width would go over among the women in my life like the proverbial lead balloon. It’s an unflattering length for any kind of portrait. If I shot a lot night scenes or cityscapes, it might be worth more to me, but we don’t live in a city. It’s rural here. We have a moon, trees, fields, rivers and waterfalls. Cows and horses, too. Our towns go to sleep early and don’t leave the lights on. Our roads are mostly unlit. If if you are from an urban area, driving after dark in this neighborhood can be unsettling. It is very dark.

So I bought the camera

I finally admitted I was never going to buy the lens, even if  the price were to drop. Decision made, I felt better. Indecision concluded, let the buying commence.

First shots with the s100 were the big blizzard ...
First shots with the s100 were of the big blizzard …

And that’s the story.

Rarely do I know exactly why I made a particular decision, but this time I agonized over it for so long that I can — this once — follow my process. That the price of the camera dropped a lot during the last month made the decision easier. When it was around to $400 dollars, it wasn’t so tempting. At $279 with free shipping and a couple of discount coupons? I bought it.

What I use a lot, use occasionally, never use at all, and why

Cameras

  • I use the S100 the most because it is small, light and on hand. It’s fast, adaptable, and takes excellent pictures. It is only a little bigger than my iPhone. I love it. I think it loves me, too.
  • The Olympus PM2 with its 16 megapixel sensor is great. Fast as lightning, small, light and accepts all the micro 4/3 lenses that I use with all my Olympus cameras.
  • I use the Olympus PEN E-P3 often and am always glad when I do. It is fast to focus, recycle, flash, everything. Almost instantaneous. It’s lightweight, compact and a ton of fun to use. Also, the pictures come out well. The auto-focus is important these days since my eyes are not what they were. The speed at which the P3 zeroes in on its target as well as its effective anti-shake (built into the camera, not the lenses) are great for hands that aren’t as steady as one might like.
  • I don’t use the PL-1 much, but I keep it fitted it with a the 40-150 lens. It’s slower than the other PENs but it still takes great pictures and has the best color rendition of any camera I own. It’s always faster to switch cameras than change lenses, so it serves a useful purpose.
  • Garry was using the Canon Powershot 260 a lot, but now uses one of the PENs. He likes the slightly bigger and heavier Olympus cameras better and I may pass this to my son. I haven’t decided yet. I love the lens on it, so I’m hesitant to let it go.

I bet more and more people will be using these high-end point-and-shoots instead of interchangeable lens cameras of any kind. The quality has gone up and the prices are, for the most part, not breathtaking. There’s not much one of these little babies can’t do.

The difference between point-and-shoot and “other” is getting blurry. All cameras, including some super high-priced DSLRs can all be used as point-and-shoot cameras. You might be surprised how many people have never gotten beyond that. They own thousands of dollars of professional equipment and don’t know an f/stop from their Aunt Fanny. I figure eventually they will give up the pretence and get a good point-and-shoot.

Micro 4/3 format Lenses

1) Most used: The 14-42mm kit lenses. In 35mm terms, this is 28mm to 85mm, or slightly wide-angle to portrait. It is — especially for a kit lens — an exceptionally good piece of glass and it’s versatile. At its maximum aperture of f/3.5, it’s fast enough to shoot in most natural light until the sun begins to go down. If I can’t make up my mind what lens I need, this one gets the nod.

2) Close contenders:

(a) Olympus 45mm f/1.8 (90mm per in SLR terms) is a beautiful, fast lens I often use instead of a “normal.” When you are shooting tight, it has a wafer-thin depth of field letting you do portraits anywhere without the background intruding.

(b) The Panasonic LUMIX 14mm f/2.5 (28mm per SLR) is a moderate wide-angle with high quality glass. At 2.5, it’s reasonably fast, even in low light. It’s also compact and weighs close to nothing.

3) Rarely used:

Olympus 40-150 f/4 (widest aperture), translates to an 80 – 300 if it were a 35 mm. Why don’t I use it? Because I often shoot wide, but rarely shoot long. I shoot macro, portraits and landscapes, but things in the distance rarely interest me, at least in part because I can’t see them. The one time this year I needed a long lens, I had the other camera with me. Oh well.

Everything’s Fine Right Now …

Music triggers memory for me as nothing else can, transporting me backward like a time traveler to a world and a “me” I sometimes forget existed. I love this song. I like the words and melody, but mostly, I love it because it’s the song I sang to my son in the wee hours while I nursed him. Night and day lost any real meaning; sleep was catch-as-catch-can. My baby was tiny, hungry and needed feeding every couple of hours. Sleep could wait, my baby couldn’t.

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For the first few months, I almost never went to bed. My son lived on my hip, in my lap, next to me on the sofa … wedged just slightly between the cushions so he wouldn’t fall if I drifted off watching old movies, but ready to wake when he next needed feeding.

Mothering was less structured in 1969. I didn’t know there were rules I should follow, so I made it up as I went along. I was only 22, not much more than a child myself. Being a young mother was natural and unlike other things in my life, I didn’t over-think it. I was playful, young enough to enjoy playing patty cake with a giggling infant.

This was a good lullaby in 1969. It’s still a good lullaby, performed by John Kirkpatrick.

Everything’s Fine Right Now

– – –

Who’s that knocking on my door?

Can’t see no-one right now.

Got my baby here by me,

can’t stop, no, no, not now.

– – –

Oh, come a little closer to my breast,

I’ll tell you that you’re the one I really love the best,

and you don’t have to worry about any of the rest,

’cause everything’s fine right now.

– – –

And you don’t have to talk and you don’t have to sing,

You don’t have to do nothing at all;

Just lie around and do as you please,

you don’t have far to fall.

– – –

Oh, come a little closer to my breast,

I’ll tell you that you’re the one I really love the best,

and you don’t have to worry about any of the rest,

’cause everything’s fine right now.

– – –

Oh, my, my, it looks kind of dark.

Looks like the night’s rolled on.

Best thing you do is just lie here by me,

of course only just until the dawn.

– – –

Oh, come a little closer to my breast,

I’ll tell you that you’re the one I really love the best,

and you don’t have to worry about any of the rest,

’cause everything’s fine right now.

– – –

 

The Olympus XZ-1 Review

– – –

I also love my quality point & shoot cameras though I also have a set of excellent micro 4/3 Olympus cameras and one Panasonic, too, with lenses. Yet as often as not, it’s my Canon S100 that gets the nod because it’s small, light and always at hand. I have heard only good things about the Olympus XZ-1 and if could think of any excuse, I’d probably buy one, too.

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