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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?

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Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

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