My Modified Olympus Flash FL-LM3

This is the flash that comes standard with the Olympus EM-5.2 and EM-1.2, and is available separately for $69. This little flash is so much nicer than the one (Flash FL-LM2) that came with my EM-1, as that flash does not bounce. But the FL-LM3 flash is awesome. It not only bounces but it rotates 180° in either direction. 

The FL-LM3 flash is a tiny flash.  Here it sits on top of my iPhone 5S

I purchased mine from Adorama. It is listed as compatible with the EM-5.2 only.  I guess the product description has not been updated to reflect its inclusion in the EM1.2 kit.  

I bought my copy earlier this month to adapt it for use on my Panasonic gear and EM-1, as illustrated in a YouTube video by David Thorpe in which he uses a piece of sandpaper to modify the flash to fit a Panasonic GX8. I modified my copy successfully in just a few minutes. It now works on both my Panasonic GX85 and Panasonic GM5. I haven’t tried it on my Olympus EM-1, because that is in the shop right now with a faulty mode dial, but my best guess is that it will work on that body too. 

In one or more posts to follow I will have more to say about using this flash on micro four-thirds bodies.

The images below show the flash as adjusted to a few of the many possible angles.

90 degrees to either side

rearward 180 degrees

Sitting on the GM5


Old Stone Walls Make Me Thankful

Last weekend I was walking through the woods here in eastern Massachusetts.  The woods in this area are filled with old stone walls.  Now, and even as a kid, I would walk through the woods near our home and imagine how hard life was back in the "old days" (18th and 19th century) when the land was being farmed.  I still wonder about this whenever I see an old stonewall and imagine the people who were walking this same spot one or two hundred years ago.

The stone walls were built by farmers clearing the land for crops (and pastures, I guess). As I understand it, this was an ongoing process.  Due to the seasonal freezing and unfreezing of the ground, rocks actually migrated up to the surface.  

It is quite obvious that it has been quite some time since this land was farmed or cleared.

As I walked, I wondered how these early farmers kept warm in winter.  Fireplaces don't give off much heat, unless you stand close to them.  I see old farmhouses built in the 18th century with more than one chimney.  I guess that was one solution.  I'm thinking an upgrade would be a "Ben Franklin Stove”.  These metal inserts made fireplaces more efficient; but a google search finds that it was not invented until 1741.  Thank you, inventor Ben Franklin. Many of the old farmhouses were big and all were uninsulated, so I'm thinking a dozen or more cords of wood were needed every winter, not to mention wood in the kitchen year round.

I am so thankful for what we have now. Yay for insulation and double pane windows.  And a big yay for central heating.  Our home is heated with gas.  It comes from the street, so there are no propane tank to fill.  It is so easy and clean with gas. And if we get cold, we just turn the heat up. No coal to shovel.  No logs to throw into one or more fireplaces. We even have two gas powered fireplaces… no mess, no fuss. I feel warm (enough) with our usual inside temperature hovering around 60F at night and 67F during the day, but my guess is that colonial farmers did not even dream of such warm inside temperatures, and if they did it would never be imagined that the temperature could be maintained throughout the entire house ... and with no effort.

In fact, I take for granted even the programable thermostat that allows me to set the temperature to go from 60F to 67F thirty minutes before we get out of bed in the morning.  And I'm not even talking about the hardware and software that some others have to do all of this remotely.  Hey, want the house warm up in time for your arrival home from work?  Well, just bump up the thermostat remotely from you cell phone.

What about hot showers? My guess is that those colonial farmers who cleared the land never even imagined that one day we would have domestic hot water pouring over heads. A bath may hardly have been in their vocabulary. I doubt they even imagined that there would even be cold water in the house.  Or indoor bathrooms and no need for chamber pots.  

I'm thankful for lots and lots of things today that go far beyond the scope of this posting.  But the stone walls beside which I walked last weekend made me feel thankful for a warm house and a warm shower.  

(In another six months I’ll be thankful for the central air conditioning we added to the house three years ago. During the summer months, I will be grateful for a cool house.  I’ll always be grateful for a warm shower.)


I Had To Be Content With Dried Flowers and Flora

Two days ago I went for a walk in the woods with the Panasonic GX85 and Olympus 12-100 lens, looking for things to photograph.  Outdoor photography is difficult this time of the year.  The days are getting colder and the color is gone.  Stuff is dried up and dead (except for the evergreens and a few of the ferns).  Nevertheless it was nice to get out and breath fresh air.  I walked slowly and looked around a lot. I am pleased (but not exactly excited) with a few of the images. Below is a small selection.

The close up images were taken at 100mm (200mm equivalent), 1/250sec, F4, and auto ISO varied from 320 to 1600 depending on the amount of light available.

This is my favorite because of the background.
A bit of overexposure worked nicely here.
1 1/3 stop positive EV compensation used.


One Photo: A Single Oak Leaf with Lightroom's New Masking Tool

Yesterday I went for a long walk, leaving the house with my new (for me) small camera and lens.  Last month I bought a used Panasonic GM5 from eBay and I already had the mini (about 3 ounces) 12-32 zoom. 

This is a mFT camera so all my lenses for my Panasonic and Olympus gear fit the GM5, though the camera is so small I haven’t yet determined which lenses will be comfortable to use on it.  I am also hoping it will weather the winter enough to go with me skiing, as I want something with better image quality than my old but trusty Panasonic TS3 point and shoot weather-proof camera.

The camera and lens fit wonderfully in my jacket pocket.  It is a sturdy little camera, but the total weight of body, lens, cap, battery and memory card is only 10 ounces.

What you see below hardly needed me to carry the camera very far.  It’s actually the only photo I took on my 45 minutes walk, and it was only 10 feet from our front door.  We had had an overnight frost and there were a few oak leaves that had blown down overnight and were residing on the lawn.  (The maple leaves had fallen and been removed a while ago.)  Usually, fall oak leaves are not exactly “pretty”, certainly when compared with the reds and yellows and oranges of maple leaves.  Fallen oak leaves are usually shades of brown.  But add a bit of frost to their undersides and they take on new life.

The leaf I chose to photograph was a near-perfect specimen.  Since I have the before and after images below you can see that I did nevertheless boost the colors to what I believe is the upper end of the range of normal oak leaf color variation, while at the same time darkening the background.  Which image is “better” is indeed a matter of personal preference.  What I enjoyed in creating the “after” image is playing with Lightroom Classic’s new masking range tool.  Basically, this is what I did:

  1. Darkened the entire exposure by about 1.5 stops in the basic panel
  2. Used the selection brush to paint over the leaf.  I usually hit the “o” key (I believe it stands for overlay in this case) which shows the painted areas as red.
  3. From here I only worked in the “mask” and  “brush” panels
  4. Turned on the mask to “color” 
  5. Turned off the overlay (hit the "o" button again)
  6. Used the dropper to define a rectangle of the leaf with the color I wished to work with
  7. Added 1.5 stops of exposure to the masked leaf, and played with all the rest of the sliders to taste.

Frosted Oak Leaf
Panasonic GM5 plus 12-32mm zoom @ 32mm (64mm equiv)
1/100, aperture priority F5.6, autoISO200
Processed in Lightroom Classic CC

Frosted Oak Leaf



I Missed Nearly All the Fall Colors

We had a strange fall.  In our area, October was the warmest October in history, with an average temperature many degrees above normal.

The other day I was looking through my images from October hoping I'd taken some nice fall images.  Well, there is hardly a one!  Fall was a couple of weeks late this year and by the time "peak" color was forecast to hit eastern Massachusetts, we had several days of heavy rain and wind. After that there was nothing left on the trees... unless you count ugly brown oak leaves.

That being said, I do enjoy these three photos I scrounged up.

Ivy on Maple Tree
Panasonic GX80/85 with 100-300mm lens
@300mm (600mm equiv)
1/640, F5.6, ISO200

The Tiniest Maple Leaf.
Spots of mold, but unchewed by bugs!
Panasonic GX80/85 with Olympus 60mm macro lens
1/60, F5.6, ISO200
Taken in our kitchen on a white surface with Olympus 36R flash

Imperfect But Beautiful.
I like the red/orange color against the blurred green background (our lawn)
Panasonic GX80/85 with Olympus 60mm macro lens
1/125, F4, ISO200


One Photo: Maine Sunrise

I'm so grateful that I am an early riser!

"Maine Sunrise"
Olympus E-M1 plus 12-100 F4 zoom @ 66mm (132mm equivalent)
1/6400sec, F4, ISO800
(I don't know why this was not taken at ISO 200, which would be my preference)
Processed in Lightroom


One Photo: Eerie Morning At Pumpkin Island Lighthouse

The Pumpkin Island Lighthouse no longer operates as a commissioned lighthouse, and has been privately owned since 1933 when it was decommissioned and sold to the highest bidder for $552.  It has been in private hands since then.

If you google it, or go to Wikipedia, you’ll find some interesting stories about the early lighthouse keepers.  It’s entertaining.

Funds for its construction were approved soon after the U.S. Coastal Survey recommended in 1852 that a lighthouse be built to mark Eggemoggin Reach, which is between the mainland and Deer (and Little Deer) Isle, Maine. The original structure was built in 1854.  I’m not sure what it actually cost but Congress approved construction costs of $3,500 in 1853.  If it was like government projects today, I’d have expected them to have spent every penny of the appropriated amount. John Tibbetts (sounds like a great old Maine surname, doesn’t it?) was the first keeper, at an annual salary of $350.

This image was taken from quite a distance on a foggy morning with my lens fully zoomed in at 600mm equivalent.

"Eerie Morning, Pumpkin Island Lighthouse, Maine"
Panasonic GX80/85 plus 100-300mm zoom @ 300mm (600mm equivalent)
Hand held 1/640sec, F5.6, Auto ISO320
Processed in Lightroom


One Photo: Schooner "Lewis R. French"

This is the 64-foot schooner "Lewis R. French", out of Camden, Maine. Launched in 1871, she is the oldest commercial schooner in America, and was recently designated a National Historic Landmark. I took this picture from the shoreline of  Penobscot Bay after the schooner exited Eggemoggin Reach. I love that name. It makes me think of egg nog.

This shot was taken during a summer trip to Maine.  I first posted it in August in color on Instagram. But I’m now thinking it looks better as a black and white image. I like the contrast created by the dark (water and masts) and light areas (sales and whitecaps), and the sky is basically grey either way. Perhaps if the sky were a bit more interesting I’d vote for the color version.  

Schooner Lewis R. French
Panasonic GX85 and 100-300mm zoom at 300mm (600mm equiv)
1/1000sec, F8, ISO250
Processed in Lightroom 


One Photo: Out For The Morning Run

This lobster boat is heading out for its morning run.  It makes sense to get an early start while the sea is calm and the day hauling traps can be long.  This photo was taken in August at 5:15 a.m.

The main subject looks better when seen on a big monitor.  Here unfortunately I can only display at 800 pixels wide and very compressed (downsizing from about 5,000 pixels wide).

"Lobster Boat"
Olympus E-M1 plus 12-100mm zoom at 100mm
(I could have used something longer)
1/250 sec, F4, ISO 1000


Lunch at The Harbor Cafe, Stonington, Maine

Lunch at The Harbor Cafe is another one of our traditions when visiting Stonington.  (In my last post I wrote about our visits to the wonderful Dockside Books & Gifts, another tradition.)

The cafe is open year round and seems to cater to both tourists (in the warm months) and locals (in the cold months).  Open from 6am to 8pm, they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We pretty much have the same thing whenever we're there... lobster rolls and pie.  Four-berry pie is shown here.  Berry pies seems very appropriate for Maine, but once I went for their wonderful coconut cream pie.  I'm looking forward to doing that again!

The cafe is located right on the main street and has a slight view of the harbor.


Dockside Books and Gifts, Stonington, Maine

Each trip we take to Stonington includes a visit to Dockside Books & Gifts.  It’s a one room shop right on the harbor and at one end of downtown Stonington.  We like to park in the municipal parking lot on the other end of the downtown area, making a nice walk through the town to the bookstore. It’s location has an unobstructed harbor view and the store is chock-full of goodies.  

There is a surprisingly large selection of books about Maine and Laurie never leaves without another cookbook from a Maine author and a few books for the grandchildren.  I like to pick up a souvenir Maine mug from time to time, though our mug collection at home is getting way out of control. 

The last couple of years the owner has been talking with us about selling the store and retiring to Camden. Stopping at Dockside Books & Gifts has become a tradition, do if it is sold I hope it doesn’t change. 


A Few From Bass Harbor, Maine

Bass Harbor, Maine has a rather large lobster boat fleet.  It is a working fishing harbor on the "quiet side" of Mount Desert Island.  These images were taken on the Bernard, Maine side of the harbor.  If you are here in the summer around 2 p.m. lobster boats start returning to the harbor with their catches.  On the pier (not Thurston's Pier shown here) we saw a large refrigerated truck waiting.  A block and tackle arrangement hauled up the lobsters in plastic crates and bait was lowered down to the boats for their next trip out to the traps.  

The harbor is a great place for photography, as is the Bass Harbor Lighthouse.

For your dining pleasure in Bernard is Thurston’s Lobster Pound.  It is open for lunch and dinner, 11:30-8, from Memorial Day through mid-October.  Their tag line is so good I wish I had a bumper sticker: “Thurston For Lobsters”.

All the photos below were taken at Thurston's:

Thurston's Lobster Pound