Photo therapy for cabin fever

If you’re like a lot of people, you’re spending most of your time at home these days, thanks to the Coronavirus. It’s pretty easy in those circumstances to start feeling cooped up.

Luckily, photography gives us some treatments (if not a cure) for cabin fever while waiting for the worst of the pandemic to burn out. If you’re on Facebook, I’d recommend joining Joe Edelman’s Tog Chat group — while this group normally focuses on fashion / portrait photography, Joe’s opened up the admission criteria for the duration, in order to support what he’s calling the “Stuck at Home Photography Challenge.”

The best part is, you really don’t need any new or particularly expensive gear to participate — just your camera, and things you likely have around the house. I’ll show you some of my contributions to date as examples.

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External power, USB, and your Olympus OM-D camera

USB-C connectorEdited 3/28/2020 to add measured power data for both battery charging and tethered shooting.

Olympus, to their credit, has finally been replacing their old proprietary USB camera cable interfaces with USB-C on more-recent OM-D camera bodies. But until the E-M1X was released in early 2019, this just provided a data interface — for things like firmware updates, and file transfers.

With the E-M1X, Olympus began to use USB-C as a power interface as well — for battery recharging, and for tethered power supply to the camera. Olympus took a middle ground with the E-M5III, using USB for data and battery charging (but not tethered power, and even then using an old-school micro-USB connector). More-recently, the E-M1III followed the E-M1X‘s example in using USB-C for data, battery charging, and tethered power supply.

I’ve recently seen confused exchanges online about the uses and limitations of USB-C with the E-M1III — so as a card-carrying geek, I thought I should attempt to clear things up a bit. But first, you’ll need some background — so find yourself a comfortable seat and a warm beverage, this won’t be a fast read. Continue reading

Crop circles

Seen on a recent flight east (somewhere over eastern Colorado / western Nebraska), it’s center-pivot agricultural fields in the midst of what are essentially stabilized sand dunes:

Crop circles

It’s late-afternoon raking light like this that really brings out the ancient nature of Colorado’s eastern plains’ “sand hill” terrain. It’s all a desert dune field, (temporarily) frozen in place

Olympus FL-700WR Flash — a quick look

Lost in all the hustle over Olympus‘ latest camera body offering (the intriguing yet rather pricey E-M1X), some less-glamorous items were far more interesting to me. Namely, Olympus’ new line of weather-resistant flash gear. The hub of this lineup is the FL-700WR, so I thought it’d be a good thing for me to quickly review (I’ll circle back to the subject in a few months after I’ve had time to put some serious miles on it).

For starters, let’s look at broadly how the new flash fits in the current Olympus line-up:

  FL-600R FL-700WR FL-900R
Dimensions (W x H x D), cm 6.2 x 10.4 x 9.8 7 x 10.6 x 10 8.1 x 12.1 x 12.5
Weight (gm) 255 303 382
Zoom range (mm) 12 – 42 12 – 75 12 – 100
Guide # (meters) @ 100 ISO 36 @ 42 mm 42 @ 75 mm 58 @ 100 mm
Recycle time (sec) 2 – 2.5 1.5 – 2.5 2.5 – 4.5
Current retail price in US $299 $399 $579

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Runkurakay Pass

So the high point (physically) of day 3 on the Inca Trail is Runkurakay Pass — with views just as good as Dead Woman Pass had, but not nearly as painful to get to.  Just before the pass, the trail winds between two small hanging lakes (I haven’t been able to find any reliable names for them).  First, we’re looking uphill / west across the lower / larger of the two (you can see some of my hiking buddies on the trail above it to the right).

Looking up to Runkurakay Pass

In this next shot, we’re at the pass and looking to the east. Continue reading