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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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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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