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Monday, 06 April 2020


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I had to go back for my camera yesterday - spent teh afternoon with my phone on Zoom showing bison to my Cub Scout den, and when my wife wanted to go for a walk...I figured I needed to get at least one closer shot.

Seeing the bison and then deer come out , all of them peaceful and playful, was a really nice cap to the day.

Sometimes it's nice to just experience life unfiltered and allow yourself to be "in the moment" (as the Buddhist and mindfulness folks would say) as opposed to trying to document the moment. I find that my desire to take photographs and my desire to try to stay in the moment frequently conflict, so have tried to balance them somehow. Of course, it is possible to use photography to actually pull you more into the moment but that requires a discipline and headset that I don't always have. I think that film photography lends itself more to this approach--less technological stuff to bring out my "monkey mind". "Chimp-ing Mind"? =-)

" there I was taking pictures in the shady barn with a phone. Dang. We need to talk about this thing where you leave your camera behind because you kinda have a camera on you. But more about that at a later time."

How about now - from me! As I await the arrival of funds to start a new project, I am in a similar state of using a venerable Fuji X Pro 1 and an iPhone 7 and I, too, have found myself frequently going on an exercise hike with only the phone with me for mostly just emergency reasons.

Your story produces a theoretical parallel in my mind. What should I buy soon to "replace" the Fuji? I have a choice of going all out and getting a high megapixel camera coupled with a hunkin heavy 2.8 zoom and/or some primes OR just a nice small and light but capable upgrade to the X-Pro 1, which would technically satisfy the needs of my project (even an XT-30 would). Money aside, I have been thinking about what I would do after my project is over. I can honestly see a future "fun" photo hike with just the iPhone or X-Pro 1 still with me rather than carry some far more proficient outfit that weighs 1 to 2 lbs more...

I assume you're aware of the contradiction between posting on Sunday, April 5 that it's all about lenses for you, and then on the very next day you feature photos you took with your iPhone. I understand why this is the case: an iPhone is undeniably more convenient for posting photos to TOP. But speaking only for myself, there's a limit to how persuasive and instructive you can be about the look of film and lenses without showing actual examples.

[Missed the P.S.? --Mike]

It was worth reading that for the last line, not to say the rest was chaff. If you ever get a chance to watch the Dutch mini-series "Holland`s Hope", it is like that. Good all the way through, but the last line will bust you up.

Have you considered packing a really compact camera, such as the Lumix LX7 or later? I carry mine in a small belt pouch. It's a snug fit, but the camera is always there, and small enough that I don't notice that I'm carrying it.

Mike, as an avid fan of your prose style, I often feel like I’ve been transported back in time and reading Poor Richard’s Almanack—this installment a good example. TOP is always a joy to read, whether it’s a photographic topic or not. As you’ve mentioned, ‘made my day.’

"P.S. Did you notice the lens flare in the first shot?"

A good reminder for your past article:


That post about Daisy and her offspring was very enjoyable. I'm glad you had at least some kind of camera with you. (The photos looked perfectly fine to me.)

Here was an expression that was new to me: "His Daisy had thrown twins . . . "

Thanks also for continuing to keep virus-free so that we get to read your blog entries, either while at home or trying to stay awake at work during this slow sales period.

That would do, Mike. That would do.

"It was that kind of evening, when you feel glad to be alive."

Beautiful post. Thanks, Mike. Maybe it was better not to have a "real" camera with you. Like Steve, sometimes a camera gets in the way of my living the moment; though on the other hand sometimes one helps me see more deeply.

I'm curious how the crafts of photography and writing interact for you, particularly in these moments, but more generally, too.

I'm reading this and thinking 'how close was he to the farmer? doesn't he know what's coming? does he want to die or kill his friends?'. It's like reading something from some kind of prelapsarian fantasy world. This is why hundreds of thousands of people are going to die in the US.

[I've been sheltering in place for two weeks and a day now, and Dave and I didn't break social distancing. 100% compliance here. But still worried, like everyone. --Mike]

Mike, it's not your age that could cause you to keel over but your condition (or the lack of it). Regular brisk walking - up that hill, down it and around the whole place - is the solution. You've worked on your diet and now you really need to get to grips with exercise. And make sure you take a camera!

So, Mike, with lockdown/shelter-in-place, why are you visiting someone else? Please, stay home/stay safe/keep others safe.

[I never got closer than a dozen feet to Dave. It's the grocery store that's the problem. --Mike]

Mike, your lyrical writing in this piece reminds me of Verlyn Klinkenborg's editorials in The New York Times. I think they were a long series called The Rural Life, or something like that. Thank you for sharing your stroll up the hill and into the barn.

Mike, I love it. Get out and photograph. Discover what's around you and share. Too little of that happening - maybe our restricted travel will allow us to see more of the world around us. Social distancing does not preclude social interaction.

They make this real high quality camera that fits in any pocket called Ricoh GR, you know ;)

Remember heavy hands jogging. I think the idea was to run while carrying weights in your hands to tone your arms or something, not really sure anymore. Well, if walking up that hill is a good cardio workout, then walking up holding one of those medium format cameras would be better, no?
Animals are surprisingly good company.

Due to the universal constant that the likelihood of a photo happening is in inverse proportion to the amount of camera one is carrying, I always have one on me; I just don't tell the universe about it.

Hey, Mike Slip a 27mm 2.8 pancake on that X-T1 and you should be able to slip it into a large pocket or very small shoulder bag. This is a very capable lens and relatively inexpensive--my choice, on an X-pro 2, when I just want to be sure I've got a camera with me. Just an idea.

The more you carry your camera the easier it is to carry your camera. I always bring a camera. My friends, neighbors, and coworkers have come to expect that I'll document our times together.

Hi Mike,

I don't think that's flare on the iPhone. I see this quite often whenever I have the sun strong and clear in the frame, e.g.:


If I consider the position of the sun in the frame, the corresponding blob (here quite subtle due to the morning fog - it's often very much stronger) is always "twice mirrored", i.e., mirrored along both the horizontal and vertical axes. I see the exact same thing in your picture, except it's not a dot but a streak, since the extreme highlight is also a streak (of the same shape, you will notice). Hope this explanation makes sense :-)

My theory is that it's a reflection coming off the sensor, hitting the rear lens element, and then reflecting back onto the sensor again. I remember occasionally having seen it on film as well in nighttime photography.

You should be able to replicate the effect yourself quite easily.


[Sounds very logical Soeren, but that's still flare, which is stray light within the optical path of a camera-lens system. There are all sorts of types and causes of flare. No one's ever bothered to specify them all, that I know of, because they're all mostly, well, a bother. --Mike]

I second the suggestion for the 27mm pancake, though on one of the more pocketable Fuji’s of the X-A or X-E series.

Mike replies: I was just looking at that very thing last night! What was the tiny Panasonic that they made a while back? Couldn't find that one.

Are you thinking of the Panasonic LX2? I got one of those years ago to take when traveling. When traveling I like to carry a very small pocket camera at absolutely all times, even if I'm carrying my "real " camera, and this on caught my attention. It has a 16:9 sensor(!) and a setting for 4:3 or 3:2 format, and when you choose one of those, it quite simply lops off the ends of the frame. So it's not a tiny slip cut out out of a more "normal" frame. And, it has a CCD sensor, so the color is very good.

As a result of the sensor being CCD, it gets noisy quick. Really quick. But I've still got it and I forever hold it against Panasonic for not upgrading it. Like my Sony R1, sometimes there's no substitute. It's my digital xPan.
Bill Pearce

Instead walk to the cow they walked to my tiny patch of grass daily. Just passed by but stayed for a few bite. Black and brown. Buffalo is seldom seen.

Photographer? Writer? You are a seer, what you do with what you see is up to you. Your prose was beautiful and evocative. It painted pictures in my mind, and made me want to see what your photographs of those scenes would have looked like.

It's a good week for a Moses: tomorrow evening begins Passover, where we celebrate the story of Exodus.

Mike replies: I was just looking at that very thing last night! What was the tiny Panasonic that they made a while back? Couldn't find that one.

Do you mean the LF1? It had a 1/1.7" sensor and a 28-200 equivalent lens (although fairly slow at the long end). Panasonic stopped making it a number of years ago. Below is a comparison to the LX100 II. The height and length are not too different, but the LF1 is much smaller in width.


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