In Praise of Think Tank Airport Navigator

On Christmas Day, under the tree, there sat a Thing of Beauty. My wife gave me a Think Tank Airport Navigator rolling camera bag. Think Tank tout themselves as the choice of working professionals, and I must say that my speed belt combo has served me well for the past several months. However, while that combo works well during a sports event, it is not as helpful in transporting all my gear to the venue. So, I asked Santa for a new bag. The Airport Navigator is designed to hold two pro-level DSLR bodies with zooms attached, at least one extra lens, and sundry accessories such as flashgun and pocket wizard. They include a full scale photo of Canon and Nikon bodies and lenses with each case to give the owner some idea of how to pack the case.

Now, one of my colleagues has recently bought himself a polycarbonate “container”, which looks something like what the Griswold family strapped to the roof of their station wagon for their infamous National Lampoon vacations. He’s proud that it will float down the Susquehanna River when he throws it in, keeping his gear safe, and even thinks he could ride down to the Chesapeake on it. He manages to get two Nikon DSLR bodies and a few lenses in there, along with his laptop and a flash. BUT, he still has to carry his two largest zooms in separate cases on his shoulder.

Now, here comes the bragging part. Since I have converted to mirrorless gear, I was able to load my new Navigator with both my Lumix GH3 and Olympus OMD EM-1 bodies, and NINE different lenses, one of which is the monster 50-200mm f/2.8 zoom from Olympus. Then I piled in my MacBook Pro, my dedicated flashgun and sundry accessories for both cameras and laptop. The whole kit weighs less than the laptop and two Nikon bodies and zooms did, prior to my conversion. Plus, the bag is so versatile that I can load and empty it from both top and side, giving me easier access than I had in the old days. Essentially, all my micro four-thirds gear is now housed in this bag, allowing me to dispose of two of the best bags I had ever owned – Delsey Pro 3s. From now on, everything I need/own, is on location with me, and the whole kit-and-caboodle will pass through airport security as carry-on luggage.

You may note that my Fuji X Pro-1 and its lenses are not packed in this case/bag. That is true, and it does mean that when I do work that will require both a micro four-thirds and the Fuji, I will do some rearranging and repacking. Small price to pay, I think. From me to Think Tank, many thanks for the brilliant design and the quality construction of this wonderful bag. P1010268 P1010269

Bucknell Womens Basketball (December, 2013)


Most of the pictures in this post are from the game with the Penn women, one at which I felt a bit conflicted, because I am a Penn alumnus. I had a nice visit with the Penn coach, and compared his situation with that of our coach, Aaron Roussell. Bucknell fell way behind in the game, and then came storming back; I was proud to be tangentially associated with both teams. I believe that our girls will benefit in January and February m the brutal schedule they have played thus far. They can be proud of how they have handled its pressures.

There are perhaps more pictures in this gallery than one game would justify, but the reason is that there are a number of sequences/bursts whose intended audience is not players and fans, but other photographers. I’ve included them to give a glimpse of the power of the new EM-1 camera from Olympus. While its predecessor was a nice camera, it had shortcomings for sports work. The new model has addressed most of them successfully. It is every bit as much fun to shoot as any Nikon DSLR, or the GH3 and Fuji X Pro 1 which I also own. So, please take a look, and if you want some EXIF data which won’t download from the Zenfolio site, drop me a note and I’ll forward it to you. is the link to this set of photos.

Bucknell vs. Fordham, A game to remember


This was one of the most exciting and most memorable games I’ve ever witnessed. The lead passed back and forth, there were any number of great plays by offense and defense, and the crowd was as noisy as I’ve seen in a long time. A large contingent of Bison fans had a nice tailgate and kept the players encouraged, and the Fordham fans were wild. The last two minutes of the game produced such drama that ESPN could run them in a highlight show. We’re not sure which calls by the officials were correct, and which weren’t but we know we saw a game all the players on both teams can be proud to have played. Fordham entered the game ranked 7th in the nation, and since they won, they deserve to retain that ranking. Bucknell entered the game unranked, and they now deserve to be ranked 8th.

Every pleyer on each team showed great desire, and great resolve. There was no quit, there was no holding back by anyone. Congratulations all around. I hope my pictures at this link, give you some feel for just how great this one was:


3 Upsets in a Row? – Must not be upsets after all


Bucknell’s 2013 football team carved another notch in the gunbelt when they manhandled the boys from Colgate 28-7. The score was 10-7 at halftime, but Colgate was already on the skids; they were running out of energy, and their quarterback was only able to throw a touchdown pass because of an overly-protective referee who gave him a roughing penalty bonus on a poorly thrown ball. The spectators may have been concerned, but the ballplayers obviously weren’t. They outscored the Raiders 18-0 in the final two periods, with a combination of the now-expected crunching run game and crisp and timely passes.. One interesting facet of the game as played at Andy Kerr Stadium is that the offensive statistics are displayed RIGHT ON THE SCOREBOARD, along with the score. When the home team is losing as convincingly as they did to the Bison, it must be rather disheartening to look up from the field of play to check the score or the clock. Those stats favored the Bison all day long. For those of us from Lewisburg, it was a delight to see.

To anyone who now thinks this is a mediocre team, a lucky team, or a Cinderella team, I think the message is clear. Not so; these guys are JUST PLAIN GOOD. And they get better each week, each practice, each game. They deserve all the praise and cheers they get (did I mention that there were as many Bison fans as Raider fans in attendance?). Everyone on  campus and in town, should come out to see them when they next play at home, against Georgetown.

Here is the usual link to the Zenfolio pages:

Bucknell – Pitt aquatics meet 2013


Shooting swimming and diving events does not ocme easity for me. The dives move so quickly that the camera has a hard time keeping up. Much of what is important in swimming happens beneath the surface of the water, and thus is invisible to the camera. On Homecoming Day 2013, Bucknell hosted the team from Pitt, a far larger school, and were often outclassed. This is a great bunch of athletes, however, and they display much drive and energy. Forgive me if some of these shots display my sense of humor rather than artistic talent. There is always humor around us, and a swim meet is no exception.

This is the link to the Zenfolio pages:


Bucknell’s Homecoming 2013


Homecoming 2013 was just what anyone could hope for: a bright, crisp, Rall day with several key events, a good attendance, and a upset victory of major proportion on the football field. I only got to cover the second half of the football game because I was asked to shoot the day’s aquatics meet with Pitt.

My shots here are intended to portray soem items that strike me as key points. First, the Bison ran the ball almost at will against a big Lehigh defensive unit which is one of the better ones in the nation. C. J. Williams, featured in that sequence which shows one of his scores, ran relentlessly and fearlessly. And his line played like titans, those outsized Norse gods who were invincible. Even a 70 year old geezer like me could have run for a few yards through the holes they made. But Williams had a career day. When he was on the sideline, Matt DelMauro picked up the slack and roared to a TD. Next, the secondary played a fine game against a good quarterback, with key interceptions and good, sound, coverage. Earlier in the season, they didn’t inspire the same confidence, but in this game even Peyton Manning would have failed to beat them. Secondary is not an easy position to play, because your opponent has all the rules on his side, and so you must be smarter and a better athlete. This day, the Bison were. Third, although the early lead helped them, the coaches had all the answers. Lehigh may have rolled up some interesting statistics, but they were meaningless because in almost every key down, Bucknell had the offensive or defensive answer.

I’ve included also. shots of the human side of a homecoming: Hall of Famers, the best basketball team I’ve ever rooted for, the fun of a fancy tailgate, the Patriot League’s best cheerleaders, and the only “professional flag wavers” in Lewisburg. I hope you enjoy these, and they remind you of the euphoria of a huge upset.

The link to the Zenfolio pages portion of this site with those shots is

“Where have all the pictures gone?”

At the recent Bucknell – UMBC swin meet, some of the team asked me where all the shots which are taken, end up. It’s a common enough question when folks see us shooting 200 pictures at an event. (I actually shot over 300 at that meet.) Here is a brief answer. Many of the shots simply are not “keepers”, especially at an event like diving. Those shots are simply deleted, and of course, it costs us nothing to throw shots away in this digital era (unlike the old film days). Many others have only an historical or archival interest; they will be useful someday in the future, but they aren’t topical or spectacular enough to grab space on a website or in a daily paper the next day.

However, I did “feel bad” for the athletes, and so I’m going to post a large bunch of shots from that meet. (Many of these could never see the light of day on the Bucknell website or in print. No photographer expects to have that many great shots from a single event. But if they are enjoyed by the team, that’s all I’m aiming for in this posting. They are intended for fun, and fun only.

And yes, if you are counting, there are more shots of divers than swimmesr; that does mean it was divers who asked me; a world-renowned sociologist told me that swimmers are more blase’ than divers about publicity. is the direct link. I hope everyone enjoys this.




Photography for Seniors

This small part of my website is devoted to the needs of persons in their later years, who want to make good photographs. I first became aware of the problems of Senior photographers some 35 years ago, when my own father announced to me that he was taking pictures no longer. This was really sad, because my dad had taken pictures since the 1920s, and at the time he owned a Leica M3 and Leica Cl with several lenses, a Rolleiflex 2.8, a full LInhof 6X9 kit with 3 lenses and different film backs, and the ergonomic grip, and an assortment of flashes, bags, tripods, and other accessories. My dad was also the curator of his father’s cameras, dry plates, and negatives. We had the most complete darkroom in the entire county, if perhaps not the biggest, with the ability to print both black & white and color (slide and negative) pictures. My dad’s problem  was that the cataracts which ran in his mother’s family were now affecting him.

Well, today, I too have cataracts developing at age 70. Today such a condition is simply an obstacle to work around, rather than the end of my photography. As I am navigating this time of life, I thought my experience and observations might be helpful to others. If what I write is interesting or helpful, let me know. If someone else is saying it better, let me know that too, so I can link this site to that one, and stop my own postings.

One of the first things to hit you as you age is that you don’t like to lug around all the gear that seemed so important, and so lightweight, when you were younger. To use my dad as an example again, look at his Linhof kit. Granted that the 6X9 was not a 4X5, but it was a real press camera, complete with fold-out lens board, bellows, ground glass back, and 3 interchangeable lens/board combinations, and focusing cams. Put all that in a substantial leather case, along with two rollfilm backs, several film holders, and add a Linhof tripod, a Braun potato-masher electronic flash with dry battery pack, and you were carrying some serious kit. He simply put them aside in favor of the M3, and later the CL, and their lenses and accessories, well before the cataracts came on the scene.

Current DSLRs of the same quality, outweight and out-size the M3 by a large amount. They aren’t the size of the Linhof, but they are bulkier and heavier that the Rollei. Add in a couple of high-quality zoom lenses and a proper matching flash, and things get heavy to carry for a couple of miles. I will NEVER tell anyone not to own and use a DSLR, but….. I use mine to shoot Division 1 college sports and other times I cannot do without the huge 24mg files of the D600. However, there are other shots I wan to take and a variety of lighter, smaller, gear produce results which are more than satisfactory. Such times are street photography when my E-M5 or GH3, or XPro-1 are unmatched, except by the Leica M240 which I can’t afford.

Life versus the Void

Galaxy SpiderWebCroppedLife merely clings to the cooling and condensing ball of gases and fluids we call planet Earth. To be sure, this life has assumed a variety, a dazzling variety, of shapes and functions. Yet, even in their totality, they have simply a toehold on the congealed outer limits of this orb of energy.

Grasses, molds, fungi, start by gluing and impregnating themselves to that skin. Eventually, shrubs and trees penetrate a few feet into matter whose depth is measured in thousands of miles. And then atop it, in the shelter and nourishment provided by the plants, critters emerge — buzzing, swarming, swimming. Trying at first by sheer numbers to survive, critter life then moves to attributes such as size and speed to attain permanence on a scale  to match the planet.

Fragile and ephemeral, fleeting and vaporous, life hopes to survive on the strength of its own energy and inventiveness. If it mutates sufficiently often and cleverly, it can escape extinction. In wheat and lichen and redwood, it has begun to succeed, but in the animals, its work did not measure up. For every cockroach, there is a tyrannosaurus.

Life then produces people, an awkward mix of mammalian traits, but one gifted with high adaptability and a novel neural capacity, to lead the rest of the life-forms to this desired stability. Because while the vegetable forms have done their work of adhering to the planet’s surface, and of altering that surface to enable further life, they have developed only moderate symbiosis with it.

What have people done with their chance? Have they proven equal to their task? It would appear that lately, within the years since the Enlightenment, we have done precious little — or worse.  ©J Joel




Thoughts on Deity — and life

There is a tendency to confuse life with Deity. Life and its force runs throughout those creations which cling to the Crust. But life in and of itself is not divine. It iS quite special; it IS a glory; it IS far more wonderful than the stars and the Void and the forces of gravity and electricity. Time, space, and compound interest are no more divine than is capitalism. For, if everything is divine, then there is nothing special about divinity.

Life engages in a titanic struggle to assert and maintain itself in this hostile setting. The struggle has thus far been successful and life has grown to cover more of the cooling crust of the orb. The forms of life have grown ever more complex and have, lately even been able to move to a neighboring orb, although not yet to establish and maintain a presence there. The highest forms of life, however, remain confident that they can, at some future time, succeed in the planting and colonizing effort there. It is only a matter of time.

This feat is remarkable, for the outcome has not been a certainty. Life and its force have, however, been relentless, and one form or another of life have always operated under the rule that, when necessary, any given form must be surrendered, or must surrender, in order that the forward thrust of life not be thwarted by the “selfishness” of any single form or species.

This force and its goal are somehow always recognized and obeyed. Homo sapiens has not necessarily formally acknowledged this truth, but has ultimately obeyed it even in times of temptation. (Such times have been called insanity, etc. Suicide is a crime for this very reason.) In the rather short time frame of the past few hundred years, life has found ways to increase the fecundity and productivity of some of its constituent parts and to overcome situations of apparent excessive growth of certain species – “overpopulation”, so called.

This is a force which is more remarkable than such forces as gravity, photo-electricity, compound interest, quarks or interstellar winds. It is truly a glory, exceeding the stars or the void. Yet I do not hold it to rise to the level of divinity. There is a temptation to confuse life with Deity, at least in part because the hostile elements (the “chaos” in Genesis) cannot ever appreciate divinity.