Undressing Magnolia at Breakfast

Magnolia Blossom was lying under a tree at Pomerance Park when I met her, near the ruins of Wyndygoul, the old Seton home.

A chance encounter, almost didn’t see her, almost stepped on her actually.

I found her interesting and took her home where I set her on my desk then proceeded to ignore, and eventually forget, her as I worked.

I found her there this morning as I was getting ready to go out for my morning coffee. She was pretty much as I had left her. Though having lost some of her freshness and looking wilted, she was still attractive, interesting, still so full of colour.

I took her out to breakfast.

Alone together in the upstairs room of the coffee shop, I began to undress her.

[Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M5 MarkII Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm F4.0]

56mm; f/13; 4.0s; ISO 250
20mm; f/4.3; 1/60s; ISO 400
22mm; f/4.5; 1/60s; ISO 400
70mm; f/5.5; 1/160s; ISO 1600
25mm; f/4.7; 1/60s; ISO 320
20mm; f/4.5; 1/60s; ISO 320
150mm; f/5.6; 1/160s; ISO 1600
25mm; f/4.7; 1/60s; ISO 320
150mm; f/5.6; 1/160s; ISO 1600
22mm; f/4.5; 1/60s; ISO 250
150mm; f/5.6; 1/200s; ISO 1600

all images edited in Snapseed: Cropped or expanded to 5×7 ratio; a little vignetting, detail reduction to give a soft focus look

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

Finding the Missing Link

When I go for my morning walks around town, I am constantly on the lookout for something to photograph. My eyes usually gravitate toward lost, discarded or misplaced things (toys, balls, gloves, bottles, etc.).

A few days ago I found a beautifully rusted chain link. It’s a little over two inches long, a quarter inch thick, and worn with a gap on one end where it must have escaped from whatever it was attached to.

2021.03.09: Finding the Missing Link (OM-D MK5ii, 36mm, f/5.2, 1/80sec, IS0 320 – iAUTO mode)

I took a picture of it on lying on the side of the road where I found it and started to walk away, but it had so captured my imagination that I went back to pick it up.

For the next few days I carried it around to with me to photograph against different backgrounds using both the OM-D and my iPhone. When using the Olympus I almost always used manual settings – or at least in aperture priority mode; with the iPhone I just hoped for the best and that Snapseed would rescue the bad shots. I hope you enjoy the results as much as I enjoyed taking and editing them.

2021.03.09: Wood and Iron (OM-D MK5ii, 18mm, f/4.2, 1/20s, IS0 400)
2021.03.09: Hitting a Brick Wall (OM-D MK5ii, 49mm, f/22, 1/20s, IS0 400)

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

Jim Hates Being Photographed – That Don’t Bother Me None, Tho

2021.01.28: Jim hates having his picture taken, so we worked out a compromise

One thing that’s happened this past year has been the great reduction of my social circle. It was never big to begin with – a group of women I usually sat with for morning coffee during the week, a bunch of regulars I would see and talk to at various pubs and restaurants, a couple of guys I would have coffee with on the weekends – but now it has diminished to, essentially, 7: two people I see daily for coffee, two couples my wife and I see occasionally, and one other guy – a crazy-talented artist who drops by with paintings every once in a while, the intervals between which have increased since, after nearly a year of unemployment, he found work.

2021.01.29: Jim hates having his picture taken

One of my coffee friends is Jim. I’ve known Jim at least three years. We became friends a through mutual appreciation of alcohol – a friendship which developed over the years over our common interests in software development, politics, art, whisky, and general conversation.

2021.01.30: Jim at breakfast not having his picture taken

In a recent post I mentioned my inability to stop taking pictures. This includes pictures of people I’m hanging around with. Jim presents a problem. He doesn’t like having his picture taken – at least not candidly and with the frequency that I take them. I decided to turn this reticence into a sort of regular feature of my Instagram posts.

2021.01.30: Jim not having his picture taken during a recent writing workshop – the cork pictured is from a bottle of Brenne, a French single malt

In addition to morning coffee, we meet regularly for dinner at the couple of places we feel safe going to, and almost weekly on Thursdays for a <air quotes> writing workshop </air quotes>. The reason for the air quotes is that, actually, it’s my wife attending a writing workshop while Jim and I discover the benefits of good whisky (Scotch, mostly, but bourbons, ryes, and others are welcome).

Anyway, thought these would be fun to post here. All photos taken with my iPhone XR Rear Camera (ISO and shutter speed whatever the hell the phone thought it should be) and edited in Snapseed using a combination of filters – including ‘tune image’, ‘details’, ‘curves’, ‘vignette’, ‘brush’, and ‘vintage’ – sometimes more than once each.

2021.02.02: Attempting to avoid having his picture taken, Jim tries to blend in with my morning paper
2019.11.06: A rare unobstructed picture of Jim

Shooting While Doing Shots

2021.01.31: Nighthawks at the Wine Bar [a nod to both Edward Hopper & Tom Waits] (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 800)

Perhaps its something I need to see someone about, but I can’t seem to stop myself from taking pictures. Everywhere I go, I look at people and things from the perspective of whether or not I could make a good picture of them. I’ll be in the middle of a conversation, something will catch my eye and I’ll reach for the camera; or walking with someone, they might suddenly find me half a block behind taking pictures. If I don’t have one of my cameras with me, I’ll at least have my phone. On those rare days I have neither, It must be funny to see me frantically patting myself down and cursing.

2021.01.25: Stool Samples (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/40 sec, ISO 320)

Yesterday afternoon my wife and I met a friend for an early dinner at a local wine bar & salumeria – we go early because the bar will be mostly empty, the friend and I wound up staying later though.

It’s one of my favorite places to go because of its interior design: marble bar, red leather barstools and booths, exposed steel beams, an interesting sunlight, and creative lighting.

2019.11.06 – The Skylight (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 250)
2021.01.31: The Bar (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/120 sec, ISO 1250)

For me, the place is so picturesque I find it hard to concentrate on my drinking – but I manage mostly because the phone doesn’t need me to play with aperture or shutter and film speed. Sure that takes some of the creativity out of it, but I make up for that in the editing later.

[Photos taken at Lugano, Old Greenwich, CT]

2021.01.31: Boulevard of Broken Drams (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 200)
2021.01.17: Tools of the Trade (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 640)
2021.01.31: Light and Colours (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 640)
2021.01.31: Camera Shy (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 400)
2020.01.25: End of an Evening (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/20 sec, ISO 640)

What Do You Do When it’s Too Cold to Go Out to Shoot?

At 29°F, I thought yesterday was cold. I was wrong, this morning I woke up to 14°and the promise of a high of 19. So, yesterday I was too much of a wimp, but today I’m too pragmatic to go walking around taking pictures. (I know, I know: 19 is practically balmy in certain parts of the world during winter, but if I don’t need to be out there…)

Still, the need to take pictures won’t go away simply because I can’t get out, so I carry my camera around with me when I go for coffee, across the street to get lunch or to meet a friend in a warm bar for a drink (we can still do that here, in Connecticut, for now). If the camera’s forgotten, there’s the phone.

2021.01.28: Aux Delices (iPhone XR, back camera 4.25mm f/1.8, 1/60 sec)

Yesterday morning, finding myself alone in the upstairs dining area of my local coffee stop, I found it a great opportunity to take a few indoor shots.

One thing I’m always curious about is how light affects a picture taken with the same settings – I often see examples of these in photography magazines, but to me it seems obvious that, often, they use the same photograph edited to simulate the difference in lighting or settings. The two pictures below are actually different, taken with my camera on manual, and using the same settings: 18mm lens, f/22, 6.0 second exposure, ISO 200.

2021.01.28: Lights On – Unedited (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/22, 6.0 sec, ISO 200)
2021.01.28: Lights Off – Unedited (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/22, 6.0 sec, ISO 200)

I usually like to play around with my pictures using either Snapseed (on my iPad) or GIMP (on the desktop or MacBook). Don’t know why… to me, the picture never seems complete until I’ve done something to it, whether to enhance the colors, the texture or just go to town messing with it using all sorts of filters and effects.

2021.01.28: Lights Off, Edited (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/22, 6.0 sec, ISO 200)

It’s the rare picture I post on Instagram or ViewBug that hasn’t had something done to it.

2021.01.28: Reading Material (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/30 sec, ISO 400)
2021.01.28: Table Leg (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/30 sec, ISO 2500)

What looks like dust on and around the lens in the images below is actually fallout from my croissant. A good reminder to keep my lens cap on while eating.

2021.01.28: Camera at Rest (iPhone XR, Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 320)
2021.01.28: Camera at Rest (iPhone XR, Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/24 sec, ISO 640)