BEING AN EXPERT ON ME – Marilyn Armstrong

I know a few things. Along the road of life, I’ve done a bit of reading and studying. Like many writers, I’m a generalist.

I know something about this, that, and a bit about that other thing. A lot about a few things, less about other stuff — and I’ve forgotten more than I currently know. Which makes me highly competitive at Trivial Pursuits. All that random knowledge needs to be good for something.

Heritage Lights 13

I’m an expert at just one thing. Me.

I know my body. The strange way it works. I know what I like. I’m good at knowing what I would like, too.

To illustrate my point, this is the story of a lens I bought — and why I’m passing it to another photographer who hopefully will get more use of it than I have. Call this: Photographer, Know Thyself.

In November 2013, I bought the Panasonic Lumix G H-H020 20mm f/1.7 Aspherical Pancake Lens for Micro Four Thirds. I used it once, to shoot a “lighting” at a museum in December.

Heritage Lights 30

That set of photographs are among the best night shots I’ve ever taken. The Panny 20, as it is fondly called, is a sharp, fast prime lens. Slightly wide-angle. Perfect for people who like to do street scenes, especially at night. It was the first lens recommended to me after I got my Olympus PEN E-PL1. That was many Olympus cameras ago, but the lenses still fit because the format has not changed. I think that was in 2011. Maybe 2010. 

The Panny was already available. Everyone who used a 4/3 format camera said I should buy it. It was then (still) quite expensive. No free now, but a lot less expensive because so many more lenses have come on the market. It was especially costly for me. I was much more broke six — almost seven –years ago than I am now, which is saying something.

Its praises were sung. I resisted. There were many fewer lenses available in 4/3 format back then. This one had a great reputation. Except I didn’t think I’d use it. At 20mm (effectively 40mm in 35mm terminology), it’s not a perspective of which I’m fond.

It’s unflattering as a portrait lens. Not the lens you’d grab to take some fun candid snaps of friends or dogs.

Dancing in the dark heritage museum

I don’t do much street shooting. Mostly, I shoot landscapes and casual portraits. I didn’t feel this lens would be the one I’d reach for as I headed out the door. I like longer lenses for portraits and wider ones for landscapes.

Eventually, I gave in to the pressure. I bought it.

I used it once. Since then, it has lived in a padded pouch, always ready to go. Always the lens I think I might use, but never do. For “normal,” I use my Olympus f1.8 25mm. If I’m going out and don’t know what I’m going to shoot, I take a camera with a long zoom so I’m ready for whatever pops up. At home, my favorite lenses are the Olympus 12-50mm (with the macro button, though it’s not “true” macro), the f1.8 45mm for portraits.

Let me not forget the f2.8 60mm macro which I use to take most closeup flower shots — and my 100 – 300 Panasonic zoom which is my birding lens. It is a great birding lens. When I was trying to decide whether or not to buy it (it is the most expensive lens I own), everyone said it was perfect for shooting birds. Which is what I wanted it for. I am not alone in the bird shooting department.

What I learned? If I think something won’t suit me, it won’t.

Red capped woodpecker

No matter what anyone else thinks. I’ve lived long enough to know what suits me. As a photographer for so many years, I know the types of pictures I take.  I’m not particularly thrilled by “normal” lenses in the 40 to 55mm range. I never was, even back in the dark ages when I was a newbie photographer.

Unless you’re just starting out in whatever, trust your instincts. Save your money for things you will love. Whether photography equipment, computers, food, clothing, or vacation … go with your gut. Leroy Jethro Gibbs always does … and we know he is always right.

Where you are concerned, there is no better expert than yourself.

THE LAST CACTUS FLOWER – Marilyn Armstrong

The Last Cactus Flower – FOTD – 01/08/2019

All of a sudden, in just two days, the last bud bloomed, the other flower closed up and I think by the end of the week, both plants will go into retirement for a few months.

On a more positive note, I have a new shoot coming in from my orchids. No buds yet. Just the tall, naked shoot.  It will be weeks before it turns into buds and more weeks until it flowers. It had two shoots, but one withered. The other looks healthy.

This one really is pink
Translucent

AND SO BLOOMS ANOTHER CHRISTMAS CACTUS – Marilyn Armstrong

A New Year’s  Christmas Cactus – FOTD – 1-4-19

The buds have been big since before Christmas, but this cactus waited until the New Year to bloom. I suppose that would make it a New Year’s cactus?

The buds were pink and the bud which has not yet opened is also dark pink, but after opening, it seems more red than pink. In any case, that’s what the camera picked up.

The leaves are translucent, so how red or pink the blossom appears depends on the light.

Blooming

It was a sunny day. I had to wait until the sun wasn’t directly on the flower. I need the brightness of the sun, but in full sun, parts of the flower burn out and processing the pictures becomes problematic.

Very close

It’s easier to wait an hour until the sun has moved to the west a few degrees. This time of year, it doesn’t take long for the sun to move along.

These are all macros because that’s the lens I had on the camera. Besides,  what’s the point of having a macro lens if you don’t use it to photograph flowers?

CHRISTMAS CACTUS MACROS – CEE’S FUN FOTO CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Cactus Macros


Oddly enough, that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing! Between the birds at the feeder and the genuine macros on the Christmas Cactus, it’s been all close-ups and macros for several weeks … with a few more weeks to come.

Tonight, though, we’re going to make an excursion to see if we can get the light on the Common. It’s cold, but it’s very clear and as far as I know, we aren’t expecting any rain or sleet or snow … or for that matter, toads and frogs, descending from on high.

A good time for cameras for as long as we can stay outside. If there isn’t much wind, we have a little longer.

I can’t tolerate cold as I used to. I was always warm, but these days, I’m always cold … even when it isn’t all that cold. So I guess we’ll see. Maybe I’ll wrangle with the extremely warm by complicated heavy winter coat I own.

I never wear it because I can’t always figure out what all those buttons, zippers, elastic, cords do. By the time I manage to get myself into it, I’m exhausted and need a nap. We shall see!

Meanwhile … closeups and macros!

CHRISTMAS IS A COMING & THE BUDS ARE GETTING FAT – Marilyn Armstrong

And the buds are getting fat! – FOTD – 11/29/2018

The buds are fatter and today, I finally watered the plants. Worriedly because watering too soon can kill all the buds. I did it last year and had to start the whole process of growing buds all over again.

Full bloom
Amidst branches
Which one will bloom next?
Amazing what a little light will do for a macro photograph, isn’t it?
Is it ever going to bloom?

Just so that you understand what I mean that even with the best conditions, you can’t know exactly when your cactus is going to bloom, I included at least one picture of the other cactus which has not one single bud on it. It has stood in the same window and gotten the same light. I watered it exactly when I watered the other cactus.

Buds!

Yet this plant has not a single bud. Which only proves that no matter how good a gardener you are, you just can’t force everything to come out your way. But you can try.

 

FLOWER OF THE DAY: MACROS – Marilyn Armstrong

Flower of the Day – October 13, 2018


I have an interesting relationship with my macro lens. Sometimes, I love it to pieces. When it decided to work, it is perfection.

Macro lenses are kind of touchy. They may focus where you want them to focus — or they may focus where they feel they should focus.

GOLDENROD, BEES, AND SPIDERS – Marilyn Armstrong

Goldenrod, a Bee, and a Spider


The goldenrod is blooming and it’s lovely. I can hardly stop sneezing when I’m near it, but a long lens really helps a lot. Although to be fair, nothing entirely stops the sneezing, the gritty eyes, and the hoarse voice. They come with the territory of pollen.

Whoever said “allergies don’t make you sick” never had allergies.

Goldenrod, spider, and a bee …
Goldenrod