TOO MANY BUTTONS

Some months ago, I bought a refurbished (read “used”) Olympus OM-D E-M5. I don’t think anyone ever really used it as a camera. Maybe it was a store demo or something like that, but it had all the plastic wrap still on it, so it was new. Except the there’s a newer version of it out, so probably this is one of the ways to offload leftovers of the previous model.

One of the things it didn’t come with is the User’s Guide. It came with no documentation at all, actually and an after-market battery charger.

I haven’t used the camera much. I haven’t been outside much or taken many pictures, so mostly, it’s has been waiting for spring when my interest in photography usually revives.

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This also means that I am not as comfortable using this camera as I am other cameras. In fact, because it came without documentation and it’s got a lot of dials and buttons, I’ve been shying away from it. But. You don’t learn to use a camera by not using the camera.

Today dawned beautiful. The sun was shining, the sky was bright blue and the air was sweet and warm. Garry said “Let’s go.” I grabbed my Olympus OM-D E-M5 and off we went to River Bend. We exited the car and we went our separate ways.

I had decided to begin using the f1.8 25mm “normal” lens. It’s very sharp and has a lens hood, good for shooting on such a bright day.

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I took a few more shots then decided to change to my 14-150 telephoto. Except something happened. After I changed lenses, I couldn’t see anything in the LCD screen. It was dark and for once, it wasn’t because I forgot to remove the lens cap.

I got my hyper-ventilation and panic reaction under control and looked through the viewfinder. I could see through it. See the menu settings too. Which meant my camera was working. This could mean only one thing: I had inadvertently, accidentally, unintentionally, and unknowingly pushed a button.

I had no idea what button I’d pushed. No idea where to look for it. Before I’d done whatever I’d done, the camera had been automatically switching between viewfinder and LCD screen. But I had done something.

Eventually, I found a tiny button near the collar of the lens. I pressed it. The picture returned to the LCD screen. All was right with the world. This is not the first time or the first camera on which a previously undetected button got pushed with disastrous results.

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There are too many buttons. On everything. Cameras. Televisions. Remote controls. Computers. Tablets.  Telephones. Convection ovens. Too many settings for software. Too much. Of everything.

I wanted to buy a rice cooker that cooks rice. I don’t need it to also bake cakes, steam fish, and do my laundry. Just cook rice. White rice. It cost me more to get a rice cooker that does this one thing well, than to buy something with 13 configurable programs to all kinds of stuff I will never want or need.

I understand to sell things, you have to improve them. After all, who would buy a new version of Photoshop if it’s exactly the same as the one you already own? So, for good or ill, you have to change stuff.

But I didn’t buy my Olympus OM-D for its bells, whistles, or little buttons. I bought it because it’s water-resistant, fast, has great resolution, a bigger sensor … and at long last, a built-in viewfinder, something for which Olympus users have been yearning since forever.

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All those extra bells, whistles, and buttons are not a sales plus for me. Do you even know what the menu options in your various system menus mean? What all those buttons do? Or even where to find them?  There are too many buttons. Too many options.

Maybe the next upgrade to our equipment will be … (wait for it) … simplicity. Now that’s an upgrade I would embrace.

A DIFFERENT EYE AT THE CANAL – GARRY ARMSTRONG

When two photographers shoot the same scene, it’s always interesting to see what they will shoot that is essentially the same … and what they will see as different.

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In this case, I was able to get pictures from places Marilyn couldn’t go … partly because I’m a bit more agile than she is, but also because she spent most of our shooting time trying to figure out why her camera wasn’t working. By the time she figured out what had gone wrong, it was time to go home. Better luck next time.

I keep it simple. I use the same lens and camera. I’m happy with my Pentax Q7. It’s light, comfortable in my hands. I know how it works. Results are predictable and usually exactly what I intended. Most of the time. Marilyn says I need to make sure I’m holding the camera straight, to take a look at the horizon and align with it. My bad.

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This was a couple of days ago. Late afternoon down at the Blackstone Canal.

MISPLACED, NOT LOST

I sat here last night. Pondering the differences between this computer which runs Windows 7 Professional and all my other computers which run Windows 7 Home Premium. That was the precise moment I realized I had not the slightest idea where I’d put the system disks for this computer.

It was alarming. I next realized I’d no idea where I put the system disk for the version of Windows 7 installed the other laptop and was a bit hazy on where to locate disks for any of computer.

side view alienware closeup computer

I have every version of Quicken I ever bought — a lot of Quickens — but I no longer use Quicken. I do know where I keep my DVDs for Photoshop which is good because Adobe only sells their products online these days. I found more than half a dozen versions of Scrabble, but none will run on this system.

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Sometime around midnight, I went into a frenzy of searching for the system disks for this computer because I doubt they are replaceable. Garry found them. Sitting, half-buried, on the keyboard of the electric organ. Which no one plays because it doesn’t work.

So many computers have come and gone, I have system software for computers that left my possession years ago. I’m not sure what “Garry’s 14Z” means, because at some point, his 14Z was reloaded and I gave him my 14z. After repair, what had been his 14Z became my “spare laptop,” the one I use to listen to audiobooks as I fall asleep and that was replaced by a big Kindle. So what, exactly, does “Garry’s 14Z” mean? Anything?

my office and desktop computer

I have every version of old software I ever used. Manuals too. Empty boxes for each camera I bought. A lot of cameras. A lot of boxes. Empty Kindle boxes back to the first keyboard Kindle I owned.

I finally dumped the boxes of floppy disks which I have no way to read. I’ve kept CDs of documents and photos going back more than a decade, even though I have the same stuff on external hard drives. Who knows how long before CDs can’t be read anymore? I haven’t tried to read them in a long time, so I don’t know if even now the data is usable. Much of technology is faith-based.

Everything is “somewhere.” Nothing is lost. It’s just … misplaced. Sometimes permanently.

Misplaced

LATE AFTERNOON SUNLIGHT – CEE’S ODDBALL PHOTO CHALLENGE

CEE’S ODD BALL PHOTO CHALLENGE: 2016 WEEK 13

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I have a few interesting pictures for this week’s entry. It rained most of the week and The Cold That Never Ends left me with very little energy to venture out.

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Pretty yet dead tulips

Afternoon sunlight on canvas camera bag

Afternoon sunlight on canvas camera bag

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There are always pictures to take.

As the season advances, the light is changing, bringing the first direct light to the front of the house since last summer.

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OBJECTS IN SUNSHINE

OBJECTS IN SUNSHINE

Object lesson of the day: I picked up my camera. Removed the lens cap. Pressed the ‘on’ button. Nothing happened.

I panicked.

Then I changed the battery.

Lesson: Before you panic, check the battery. You’d think after 40 years, I’d have figured it out by now, wouldn’t you?


It is not spring. That’s two weeks in the future, but the weather hasn’t looked at the calendar. It thinks it’s spring. I’m not about to argue the point.

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It’s lovely. Warm. Gentle breeze. Bright blue sky. Too early for leaves, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the forsythia bloomed early. After three years of brutal winters when snow lingered late, what a treat this warm, friendly weather is.

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The open dutch door lets in the fresh air — a luxury after a winter with everything closed up tight.

Sunshine is streaming through the aloe by the sink. The light glows in a little bottle on the window sill.

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It’s almost my birthday … just two more days. The gypsy fortune-teller was wrong. I did not die in my 68th year (so there, gypsy lady). I might make it to the big 70!

Today, it’s too warm for my “between season” jacket! Too warm for a sweatshirt. Perfection will be more rain until our rivers are full again.

PROFESSIONAL RETIREMENT

I am professionally retired, which means whatever I do — like write or take pictures — is (by definition) a hobby.

“Professional” has a specific meaning. To be a professional anything, you have to earn money at it. The only thing I get paid for these days is not working, which means my profession is retirement.

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Professional equals paycheck. This isn’t a judgment on the quality of anyone’s work, talent, or dedication. No matter how hard or well you labor, if you don’t get paid, you are not a professional.  I’ve had people argue with me about this, but I don’t care. There is a definition for professional. It isn’t a matter of opinion.

A professional is someone who gets paid to do that thing. Even if it’s only a little bit of money, if you never get paid anything, you can’t claim “professional” as your title. Mind you, there’s nothing demeaning about not being a professional. Especially in the arts, the finest creative work is often done by people who can’t earn a living at it. I’m pretty sure Van Gogh never sold a painting.

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Creativity and professionalism are often at odds. I worked my whole life as a professional (commercial) writer. If I had not worked my whole life as a technical writer, I might have written something else. Like a novel or two. Would it have been great art?

Maybe. Maybe not. How would I know? It never happened.

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You can’t write for a living and have anything left at the end of the day to create great works of fiction. You have to choose what you want to be … and be prepared to sacrifice to achieve your goal. I have a passion for writing, but I have a greater passion for a roof over my head and food on the table.

In the past, I got paid to be a writer. Now, writing is a favorite pastime or activity. A hobby. My standards are no less professional than ever. Just — no one pays me for my efforts. Pity. I could use the money.

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Photography is and always has been, a hobby. I’ve been taking pictures nearly as long as I’ve been writing. Except for a very brief stab at wedding photography, it’s been a labor of love. Which translates to “unpaid.”

My foray into professional photography lasted exactly long enough to reinforce my belief that baby pictures and weddings were not my career path. But photography has proven to be the perfect hobby.

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You never outgrow it. You are never too to take pictures. It’s never boring. You can spend a lot of money … or a little bit.

Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, the best equipment in the world will not guarantee excellent pictures, but a good eye will yield great photographs using minimal equipment.

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Meanwhile, used and refurbished equipment offers a viable route to owning quality cameras and lenses on a tight budget.

So in retirement, my previous professional occupation — writing — has become a fun hobby. And my previous fun hobby — photography — is still a fun hobby.

I merely wish professional retirement paid better.

ODDBALLS: TALE OF A FOUND CAMERA

CEE’S ODD BALL PHOTO CHALLENGE: 2016 WEEK 10

I took these oddballs less than an hour ago, using my Pentax Q-S1 and its “normal” f1.8 lens. Nothing remarkable or notable about this, except that for the past week, I thought I’d lost it.

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I have never lost a camera in my more than 40 years of photography. I’ve dropped one and seen it explode, but never lost one.

A Blogger's Whiteboard

A Blogger’s Whiteboard

I obsess about my cameras. Every lens is packed in a protective pouch, then put in a protective bag. Camera bags are organized. I can find whatever I want quickly. So how did I misplace a camera? Especially one I use so often? Glad you asked.

We’ve been traveling lately, most recently to Connecticut to visit Tom and Ellin Curley (newest members of Team Serendipity). Go team!

Waiting for spring

Waiting for spring

But, I digress.

I have not been taking a lot of pictures lately. It’s a dull time of year for pictures. When I wanted to take a few quick shots at home, I reached for my Q. Not there. Garry’s camera was where mine should be. Lenses were in place … but my red Pentax Q-S1 was missing.

I hadn’t used it in Connecticut, but I was sure I’d brought it back from Arizona. I looked. Garry looked. I looked again. Then, looked one more time, just in case. I was certain it would turn up. It had to. No way would I lose a camera. Totally out of character.

Today, after more than a week with my camera still MIA, I began morosely to check online for a replacement. The Pentax Q camera series isn’t expensive — a brand new body costs just over $200. But I didn’t want a new one. I wanted my little red Q-S1. It is almost new. It’s red, cute and all set up the way I like it.

That’s when Garry asked if I’d checked the car. No, I hadn’t checked the car. Why hadn’t I checked the car?

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It was in the car. In the case. On the floor in the back seat where I put it myself. (I put cameras on the floor because they can’t fall off the floor.) Why didn’t I look there first? No idea. Why didn’t Garry tell me to look there? He has no idea.

My camera is home. It’s fine. But I think my brain is broken.