Profile Update Fridays

Every Friday I update my profile picture on facebook and usually add an ‘interesting’ story about it. I thought I’d share today’s update here (with some minor edits and additional pics).

2021.09.03: Profile Update Fridays – While tidying up the office, which used to be my daughter’s bedroom (and still is when she visits), the light coming in through the window was just too good to waste so…

…out comes the tripod and the remote shutter app for the Olympus and a series of selfies were taken for this update. The one here, with Brownie, was my favourite of the bunch.

Brownie has been in the family since Elyse’s age was measured in months. He has a speech impediment, but don’t call it that because it makes him angry (we just say he has an ‘accent.’)

He’s had an interesting life: he’s a computer nerd and can fix almost any problem – which works out well for his brother, Teddy, who is forever spilling chocolate milk on his keyboard; for a while he dated Cheerie, a Build-a-Bear cheerleader who moved to Florida about fifteen years ago (they’re still in touch); he’s good natured and puts up with a lot of the pranks his brother and the other stuffies pull; he – and the other stuffies – regularly goes to a summer camp run by Mister Peabody (a stuffed version of the cartoon character).

Mr Peabody is an unscrupulous dog. He uses these camps to make money off of the free labor provided by the unwitting stuffies, convincing them they’re doing crafts. He gets away with it because these camps are always on different islands outside of the United States. A few years ago he had them rolling cigars in Cuba saying they were making ‘leaf rolls’ for a made-up holiday.

My Daughter’s stuffed animals have had a much more interesting life than I ever had.

I’ve Got Sunflowers on a Rainy Day

Rainy, humid morning. My initial thought was I’d slip on some waterproof shoes, a rain jacket and go stomping through Pomerance Nature Preserve but, when I opened the door and felt the oppressive, 95% humidity, I said ‘no thanks. I’ll just go early to the coffee shop.

Getting out of the car at Aux Delices I spotted the sunflowers next door at Porcelanosa and decided I could make them my subject for the day.

2021.08.19: First picture – lens fogs up just as I’m about to press the shutter release and suddenly I lose not only a clear shot, but also a bit of the focus

I ran into an unexpected problem early on: the humidity and relative heat outside the car caused my lens to fog up almost immediately when I removed the cap. The first pictures I tried to take (the one above being the first) didn’t come out so good. Patience, however, is not only a virtue but allowed me to wait until the temperatures of camera and outside evened out. Then, I was able wipe and keep the condensation off the lens and proceed.

2021.08.19: Sunflower seen from behind – after the lens cleared

Last year I had taken pictures of the sunflowers growing here using my iPhone. Today I had my Olympus with a 14-42mm lens which allowed me to get some decent shots from fairly close (about 7 inches), so I concentrated on trying to get some detail shots.

I know nothing, really, about sunflowers – or flowers in general – and, so, every time I take a close look at them I’m amazed by how otherworldly they seem…

… and by seeing something I’d never noticed before, like disk florets: the center of the sunflower pictured below is a field of flowers inside a flower! Maybe nothing new to anyone who knows anything about them, but it’s been all I can think about since I took these pictures, just adding to that otherworldly feel for me.

So, though I didn’t get to go on my usual morning walk, it wasn’t a water morning: I not only got to take some nice pictures, I got to learn something new as well!

Equipment: All pictures taken with an Olympus OM-D E-M5III (mostly set on auto) using an Olympus M.14-42mm lens at various focal lengths and edited using Snapseed on my tablet while drinking coffee.

Ordinarily I like to use aperture priority so that I can get some depth of field – for example, I would have liked to capture the church in the background in a couple of shots – but it was a bit breezy and the flowers just wouldn’t stand still for a longer exposure.

Thirteen Exercises – Part 1: Don’t Move

Introduction


The other day I received the B&H Newsletter, something I usually ignore – I normally ignore emails from vendors unless I have an order in process – but the first words of the subject line caught my attention: 13 Photo Exercises Guaranteed to Jumpstart Your Creativity… Again, stuff I usually ignore. Not because I don’t think I could use the help, but every time I start reading one of these, they tend to be full of silly advice like ‘wrap your camera in aluminum foil and stick it down your trousers to take a picture of the the nearest building.’ However, I’ve been feeling a bit stuck in a rut: taking photographs of the same flowers, plants and buildings, so I thought ‘why not?’ and started to read.


SIDE NOTE: If you don’t know B&H (B&H Photo, Video & Pro Audio), they’ve been around as a physical store in New York City for ages (AGES!) I remember rummaging around their store on West 17th back in the late 70’s and 80’s. I’m pretty certain that’s where I bought both my first SLR, a Yashica TL-Electro X and my second, the Canon AE-1.

I wonder whatever happened to the Yashica – literally have no idea. I remember rushing out to buy it after seeing a great add in Playboy likening it to an iceberg: the greatest parts are hidden beneath the surface! As for the Canon, I still have one, but not that one – the original was stolen by an old girlfriend’s drug addict neighbour, giving him, I’m sure, minutes of enjoyment).

Wouldn’t you know it, you can find almost anything on Flickr


Digression, digression, digression: sorry!

Anyway, just wanted to say that a year ago, when I started to become interested in photography again, I was happy to find they were still around AND on the Web. I enjoy their site mostly for the links to product reviews, how-to videos and articles. Their prices aren’t any better or worse than other places and, when comparison shopping, I find their prices about the same as Amazon’s so I tend to buy from them out of loyalty to ‘an old friend.’
[SIDE NOTE NOTE: they’re no longer at 17th street, but there is still a brick and mortar store in Manhattan near Penn Station]


The email linked to an article by Todd Vorenkamp and, as I read through his exercises I found myself thinking… ‘well, this might be fun… and this might be fun too!’ I eventually decided that I would go through each of the exercises and bore you all with my attempts.

At the bottom of this post I will put a link to Todd Vorenkamp’s article for anyone interested.

Exercise 1: Two Dozen

The instructions for exercise one were: Pick a location. Stand in one spot and make 24 unique photographs while standing in the same place. You cannot move your feet.

Image 1: From ground level, looking south at picnic tables and trees. Shooting from the ground-level is something I enjoy; it allows me to view the world from a different perspective.

I did this in Bruce Park in a parking space on Wood Road, facing south toward the picnic area. Now, let me tell you how I cheated:

  • three shots in I actually moved my feet to go back to the car and get a second lens, BUT… BUT, I outlined where my feet were and made sure to stand in the exact same location and foot-placement when I got back, and
  • I actually took 32 shots because of subject movement – a cardinal that was hopping picnic tables and a tree (yes, I’m certain it was the tree that moved).

This was fun and slightly challenging. The first few shots were easy, but after a while I found myself thinking hard about what to shoot next (the cardinal’s sudden appearance gave me momentary relief).

I wouldn’t say any of these pictures are particularly creative (or, for that matter, even even particularly interesting), but … eh (🤷🏻‍♂️)! Lucky you, I only picked 10 to show here.

Image 16b: Cardinal on a picnic table. The Cardinal is the mascot of the Greenwich High School sports teams. Had always associated it with St. Louis starting to work here in the late 80’s and eventually moving to town. Honestly, though, I can’t say I remember seeing so many around as I have this year.
Image 17: Looking straight up. Branches over my head.
Image 19: Cobblestone Curb (or kerb, if you prefer). Within the last year they’ve redone the parking area on Wood Road – actually, I should say ‘they added a parking area’ since whatever might have been there was just street. The parking area is differentiated from the street by use of cobblestones (you’ll see this in subsequent images)
Image 3: I always thought you don’t poop bag where you eat. Bruce Park is very dog friendly
Image 4: Morning routines: a woman goes on her daily walk and the trash gets picked up. This shot gives you a better idea of the new parking area at the park. Last year, this street was completely closed for several months and for, some crazy reason, when they opened it again all this cobblestone made me so happy. Still does. I’m a bit of a nut.
Image 7: Picnic Table Legs. One of the reasons I moved to get that other lens was to take this picture (cropped because, since I couldn’t move, there was some extraneous stuff on the left).
Image 18: The lens I replaced on the hood of my car (Olympus M. Zuiko 14-42mm, because you wanted to know, right?)
Image 15: Dropped lens cap
Somewhere between Image 4 and Image 5: Probably the most creative thing I did all morning. I had four pens in my pocket and I used them to mark the positions of my feet so I could return to the exact spot and foot-placement after getting my other lens. (Who carries four pens in their pocket?)

All pictures taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III with either M. Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 or Panasonic/LUMIX 45-200mm f/4-5.6 lenses…

Link to Todd Vorenkamp’s 13 exercises: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/tips-and-solutions/13-creative-exercises-for-photographers

Bon Voyeurage

Most mornings I go out for a walk. Depending on weather I try to get five to six miles in on weekdays, eight to nine on Saturdays, Sunday I rest. I carry a camera in one hand, my iPad in the other.

At the three mile mark (sometimes a little more, depending on my route) I stop at what has become my coffee ‘local’: a patisserie called Aux Delices in Riverside, Connecticut. I get there shortly after they open at Seven and and take a coffee and croissant upstairs to the usually empty dining room where I sit at my regular table reading though my copy of the internet.

As I sit, people come and go and I can’t help watching, listening and, of course, taking pictures. Most of these I never post, especially if they show their full faces, but I thought I’d put some of them here including a couple of selfies I took using the Olympus’ remote control app on my phone.

2021.03.20 – Olympus OM-D E-M5 MarkII (Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm F1.8; Settings: ISO 200, F/3.5, 1/200sec)
2021.03.16 – Taken with iPad Pro back camera (as you can see from the reflection)
2021.02.26 – Olympus OM-D E-M5 MarkII (Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm F4.0-5.6, Settings: 14mm, ISO 200, f/4.5, 1/80 sec)
2021.03.24 – Taken with iPad Pro back camera
2021.04.02: Remote Selfie -Olympus OM-D E-M5 MarkII (Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm F4.0-5.6, Settings: 31mm, ISO 200, f/7.1, 1/125 sec)
2021.04.03 – At My Regular Table – Olympus OM-D E-M5 MarkII (Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm F4.0-5.6; Settings: 22mm, ISO 200, F/4.5, 1/80sec)
2021.04.05 – Olympus OM-D E-M5 MarkII (Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm F4.0-5.6; Settings: 15mm, ISO 250, F/4.1, 1/60sec)
2021.04.06 – Olympus OM-D E-M5 MarkII (Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm F4.0-5.6; Settings: 16mm, ISO 320, F/4.1, 1/60sec)
2021.03.28 – Taken with iPhone Back Camera
2021.04.02 – Taken with iPad Pro back camera

The Lost Generation (… of Shopping Carts)

I’m always curious about the shopping carts I see abandoned on sidewalks around town, many quite far from the stores they come from, but not close to anyone’s home or even a bus stop.

2020.06.09: East Putnam Avenue, Greenwich

I imagine in them a desire for travel…

New surroundings, …

2021.03.23: East Putnam Avenue, Old Greenwich

To make different friends …

2020.11.21: East Putnam Avenue, Cos Cob, CT

In the end, though, they become lost and depressed …

2021.03.01: Ferris Drive, Old Greenwich

Having found no place that fulfills whatever expectations they may have had, some seek to find their way back home

2021.03.21: Arcadia Road, Old Greenwich, CT
2021.03.01: Arcadia Rd, Old Greenwich, CT

Some wait, hoping to be found and brought back …

While others fall into a deeper depression and give up

2020.03.11: East Putnam Avenue, Riverside, CT
2021.03.20: East Putnam Avenue, Cos Cob, CT
2021.03.20: East Putnam Avenue, Old Greenwich, CT

Hanging Out in Bars

There’s no denying it: although I profess myself to be a misanthrope, I do like to occasionally spend time sitting in a bar, watching people and listening in on conversations around me.

But what I like most is to take pictures in that special light that you really only find in a bar.

2021.03.07: The Town Dock Tavern, Rye, NY (iPhone XR Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 160)

People and things just look so different inside a bar than they do in the outside world (and I’m saying this is true even before I start drinking!).

2021.03.07: AC’s Boots (iPhone XR Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 400)

This afternoon my wife and I went to the Town Dock Tavern in Rye, about ten miles from home, to visit our friend Margaret who was bartending.

2021.03.07: Who invited Basil Hayden? (I don’t know, but I asked him to stay a while) (iPhone XR Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 250)

There was only one other person there when we arrived, but soon a few regulars started coming in. The place became lively with laughter and friendly conversation.

2021.03.07: Basil Hayden, Front and Centre (Guinness on the left) (iPhone XR Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 400)

Margaret made sure we were acquainted with everyone and we felt most welcome.

2021.03.07: Margaret’s Steady Hand at the Helm at the Town Dock (iPhone XR Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 640)

We ate, we drank, we enjoyed the people, and then we remembered that tomorrow was Monday.

2021.03.07: Clam-orous Dishes! (iPhone XR Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/40 sec, ISO 320)

I want to explain the picture below (also the featured image) because they look less than flattering to the people in them and I call them ‘If Hell Had Happy Hour I’ and ‘II’ because nobody looks to be having a particularly good time, but this is one of those tricks of timing where, in that one split second, everyone looks off. It’s like when you pause a video in the middle of someone talking – that most beautiful or handsome person you wanted to stare at for a while looks like the biggest doof in the world!

I guarantee, everyone was having a wonderful time, they were some of the most pleasant people I’ve ever drank with and I hope to hang with them again someday soon.

2021.03.07: If Hell Had Happy Hour I (iPhone XR Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/40 sec, ISO 320)

Reflections

Like many people, I’m fascinated by the way different objects reflect light or images. Capturing this on ‘film’ hasn’t always been easy for me. Been a bit of a learning curve.

2021.02.27: Lugano Wine Bar, Old Greenwich (OM-D MKVII 15mm, f/10, 0.40000 sec, ISO 200)

A lot of times I think I’m taking a photo of what I’m seeing only to find out that either my point of view isn’t exactly the same as my camera’s or that I didn’t have the settings right and the beautiful reflection I thought I caught looks undefined or washed out. Fortunately post processing with tools such as Snapseed, GIMP, etc., can help bring out the beauty that was there in my eyes.

2021.02.28: Sunlight Reflecting on Wet Blacktop (iPhone XR Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/121 sec, ISO 32 – Left is original image, Right is post processed with Snapseed )

2021.03.02: Sun Reflecting Off a Copper Table (OM-D MKVII 14mm, f/20, 1/500 sec, ISO 200)

I love the way different surfaces reflect objects and light: how very smooth surfaces (water, glass, polished marble) act like mirrors, rough and dented surfaces provide only a rough idea of the images they reflect. There’s an analogy somewhere in there for the way we think and relate our ideas to each other.

2021.03.01: The Perrot Library Reflected on Binney Park Pond, Old Greenwich, CT (OM-D MKVII 14mm, f/5.6, 1/25 sec, ISO 200)
2021.03.07: Narcissist (OM-D Mk5ii, 54mm, f/6.3, 1/400 sec, ISO 100)

Not all reflection is about light and images – sometimes a reflection is seeing something two people are doing that looks almost the same.

2021.02.27: Reflecting (OM-D MK5ii, 16mm, f/4.1, 1/15sec, ISO 1600)

Those can be the most fun to capture.

Getting to Know You…

Three weeks ago I got home to find a package at my door. I wasn’t too excited: we’ve all been experiencing a year of random packages showing up almost every day with stuff you ordered who knows when, while you were thinking god knows what, drinking scotch in the dark and surfing the internet (or is that only me?) Surprise, surprise, though: it was something I actually remembered ordering and had been looking forward to: a reconditioned Olympus OM-D E Mark 5ii with a 14-150mm lens.

2021.02.08: Shooting through a metal pipe – 10mm, f/5.6, 1/25sec, ISO 1600

I found it cheap on eBay, having gone on a search after seeing it listed as the equipment used in someone’s blog post (wish I could remember whose. I’ve gone back looking, but can’t find it. As I said, scotch in the dark and surfing the web).

I unwrapped the package, put the battery in the charger (so glad they included one, because I hadn’t thought about it) and loved forward to taking it out the next morning. Immediately I liked its look and feel: it more closely resembled the film cameras from my past – it even looked more like my old Canon AE-1 than any or my more modern Canons – its size and weight also felt great in my hand: smaller, but a little heavier than my Rebel, and … I don’t know… more fun to swing around.

2021.02.08: Jim Enters Lugano – taken using the WiFi remote (16mm, f/4.1, 1/60sec, ISO 500)

Many things on cameras are easily understood at first glance – here’s the shutter release, there’s the wheel you turn to set the picture-taking mode, here’s the button to release the lens, etc. Other things take some reading and getting used to. For example, setting for manual focus: with my Canons there’s a switch on the lens, itself; with this camera it’s software driven and I have to go into the settings menu – already, I can tell this will be a pain in the ass since I’m used to switching from auto to manual focus ‘on the fly,’ as it were.

2021.02.10: Morning at Aux Delices (14mm, f/4, 1/60sec, ISO 500)

To get to know the camera I did what I do with a lot of things: I downloaded the manual to generally ignore, but look at from time to time, and started carrying it everywhere and taking pictures, feeling my way through the different settings.

Generally I like the camera – I love the lens! – and the pictures it takes. There really are only two things I don’t like about it:

  • First, the so-called ‘super control panel.’ To me, its not so super. Perhaps this may be because it’s a reconditioned camera, but I find it hard to use the touch-screen functions. The first time I tried to select ISO setting, I tapped and tapped and tapped until I almost didn’t want to take the picture anymore. Finally I typed somewhere else, magically activating the White Balance setting, then used the arrow pad to move to the ISO setting.
  • Second, the aforementioned switching from auto to manual focus.
2021.02.11: A Bird in the Bush is Worth 1/2 A Bird in the Hand – MANUAL FOCUS MODE (150mm, f/5.6, 1/250sec, ISO 250)

The WiFi functions are fun – clunky, but fun – this being my first camera with built-in WiFi. I like the ability to transfer pictures directly to my iPad for editing instead of waiting to get to transfer from camera to laptop to iPad. I’ve also used the WiFi remote a few times.

2021.02.24: Shopping Cart Under the Bridge (15mm, f/4.1, 1/60sec, ISO 640)

All-in-all, happy with the purchase and the pictures. I sort of feel bad for my Canon, though: it’s been sitting on the shelf for the past three weeks, only getting sun a couple of times when I wanted to use a camera I was a little more comfortable with.

iPhone XR Front Camera, 2.87mm, f/2.2, 1/121sec, ISO 64