Lunchtime Photo

This is one of the oldest photos in my collection that I haven’t yet published. I think I decided I didn’t really like it all that much. But there is a story that goes with it.

I was hanging around at the local mall, waiting for the sun to go down and casting around for something to do in the meantime. So I stuck the camera on the lip of a fountain and took some shots with a long shutter time, which produces that soft, blurry look from running water. This one used a shutter time of 1 second, but I wanted to try something even longer.

I couldn’t. My camera flatly wouldn’t let me set anything longer than 1 second no matter what I tried. When I got home I tried again to figure out what was going on. No luck. Then I started paging through the manual. But what should I even look for? I paged and paged and paged and found nothing.

The next day I tried again, and finally I cracked it. It turns out that the previous day I had put the camera in silent mode, which turns off the fake shutter-click noise. But in silent mode, the longest allowable shutter speed is 1 second. WTF? What’s the reason for this? And how would anyone figure it out? It took me a good half hour searching through the PDF of the manual before I finally found a little footnote about it. And I still have no idea why Panasonic did this. Is it a “safety” feature, so you know when the exposure is finished? Beats me. Anyone have a better suggestion?


We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.