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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?

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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