What I’m Doing (Photographically Speaking) While Hunkered Down

Greetings from the Garden State. From my upstairs windows I see the neighbors’ trees in bloom and the scene is very inviting, but like millions of other Americans, my family is hunkered down. Here are a few of the things I’m doing to keep cabin fever at bay.

Before I write anything else, let me share a secret: Cheetos crumbled on top of macaroni and cheese makes a meal fit for a king. You know the crumbs and broken pieces that invariably collect in the bottom of the Cheetos bag? Save them for your mac-and-cheese. I heard that Cheetos are also good when floated on tomato soup. Have to try that.

The point is, I’m blessed that it takes very little to entertain me. My mother said I could appreciate simple things because I have a simple mind.

So what’s on the schedule?

The LaCie BOSS enables download from a device (drone, camera, etc.) to secure, portable storage without using a computer. Gotta get one of these. LaCie products are tops in my book.

1. Back Up Images and Important Data Files
I’ve never met a person who said, “Damn it, I backed up my files too many times. Now I have copies of them everywhere.” Instead I mainly hear either a) “I meant to…” or my favorite b) “I was going to….”

You’re home. You certainly have the time. And you have several backup options that are affordable the reliable. I covered the better options in an article last November: “The 7 Best Storage Devices for Photographers.”

I recommend redundancy, and that bears repeating. Buy an external hard drive and establish an automatic backup plan interlaced with as-needed backups. Buy some online cloud storage. Install a NAS drive on your home network. Go backup crazy.

Product update: The LaCie BOSS is an external HDD that allows you to copy files directly from drones, memory cards, action cams, cameras, phones, USB hard drives, USB flash drives et al without a computer. Comes in various capacities and prices.

Fujifilm makes four extra-compact prime lenses, and I now own two of them, the 35mm f/2 (50mm equivalent) and the 16mm f/2.8 (equal to a 24mm). I have my sights set on the 50mm f/2 also, but I already have a 60mm f/2.4 Macro.

2. Indoor Macro or Maybe Something Better
My kneejerk reaction to being housebound, which happens usually once each year due to a heavy snowstorm, is to haul out my macro lens and do some close-up work. Not this time, though. Because I sense that this hiatus will be longer than the usual winter fare, I bought a new lens for my Fujifilm camera. One that’s apropos of being indoors.

My heart said f/1.4. Alas, my checkbook said f/2.8. So I obeyed and ordered a Fujifilm 16mm f/2.8 wideangle for $399. (The price of the 16mm f1/.4 was $999.)

Other than a few pics of my dog, I haven’t had a chance to use it yet. But I like the size and it pairs nicely with my Fujifilm 35mm f/2 prime lens. Hmmm – maybe if I add the 50mm f/2…

We’ll write more about this situation later this spring.

Five of these guys were staring me down through my family room window. Deer are a common sight where I live, and my yard seems to be their favorite hangout. ©Jon Sienkiewicz

3. Backyard Photography
The birds are still visiting my yard, unaware that the world is choked with contagion. And yesterday afternoon a herd of no less than five whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were peeking at me nose-to-nose through the family room window. They’re amazingly tame, and although they can be incredibly destructive and spread disease-infected ticks, they’re graceful and exciting to watch and photograph.

4. Flower Garden
Hmmm. After the deer finished dining, there’s little left to write about.

Here’s a great photo editing package I need to learn more about – PhotoLab 3 from DxO. ©Jon Sienkiewicz

5. Learning Software and Experimenting
Ever devote a full day to learning more about your computer or the intricacies of a certain software application? A full day, not just a couple coffee-driven hours after midnight. Like many of you I suppose, I can sure as hell use a few lessons in Photoshop. Oh, I’ve been using it for a long time, since version 2.0, but I’ve been whistling for a long time, too, and I still can’t call myself a musician.

Thankfully there are beaucoup Photoshop and Lightroom tutorial videos online. Shutterbug highlights these often. So check shutterbug.com for curated suggestions and pertinent software reviews (including a few by yours truly).

Caught these tourists unawares back in 2010 with my Nikon D90 on a street in Manhattan. That was 10 years ago of course, and the Nikon is still a good shooter at 12-megapixels. New York City is quiet now, but it will be back. ©Jon Sienkiewicz

6. Reexamine the Photo Archives
My libraries of digital images go back a very long ways, back way before digital cameras in fact. At Minolta I was an integral part of “DP1,” the small but empowered group of mostly Japanese employees who were tasked with producing Minolta’s first digital products. Those days have long since passed, but the images remain; they’ll never fade, unlike silver-based images.

7. Website
Saving this one for when I’ve exhausted the other six activities. My weekly column for shutterbug.com and other writing I am fortunate enough to be paid to do keeps me busy and uses up most of my creativity. Creating Cheetos recipes uses the remainder.

I believe that creativity is somewhat like a rain barrel that magically refills every night. There’s a hole near the bottom and it drizzles out all day long whether you use it or not. So if you don’t use it, you lose it anyway. And once you use it up you must wait for it to refill. Of course, a new lens can refill the barrel in a flash. I thank heaven for my simple mind.

—Jon Sienkiewicz



(As an Amazon Associate, Shutterbug earns from qualifying purchases linked in this story.)