Sunday, December 3rd, 2006
12:03 pm - Retail Therapy...  
One thing I did over vacation was buy stuff. I won two eBay auctions, and bought a bunch of things at Newegg.com. The biggest purchase was an Olympus E-500 digital SLR camera that is just neat. Alex bought one of these over the summer, and I have been envious ever since I saw it back in June. The price was down to $700 for a package with two lenses (14–45 mm and 40–150 mm zooms) and a 4 GB compact flash card. I just couldn't resist its siren call anymore.

It arrived last Monday after sitting in the UPS distribution center in Warwick over the entire Thanksgiving holiday (explain to me again why Black Friday is not a "business day"). The weather, naturally, was gray and wet all week, so despite hauling the camera along with me into work every day, there were no opportunities for picture taking. (I do have to note that the temperatures were unseasonably mild all week. I went for a walk around 10 p.m. Thursday night, and it was still in the sixties.) I did fiddle with the controls a bit. One thing that I liked right off the bat is that it seemed lighter than my old Minolta. I weighed the bodies, and they're almost exactly the same weight (although both are lighter than my original SRT-101), but the optics are noticeably lighter on the Olympus.

(My history with Olympus equipment goes back to when I was in grad school, when my boss was the keeper of the department's Olympus OM-1. The OM-1 was a terrific little camera, but sadly, most of its features were never needed as it was used mostly for preparing white on black slides for talks (in those pre-Powerpoint days). I was the one who did most of that work for the department, since I was the guy who had the keys to the darkroom. (I was doing X-ray crystallography in my research, which meant I was constantly swimming in stop bath and fixer.) I'd also been developing my own color slides for years, so I didn't mind the extra load. I enjoyed it; the going rate was a six-pack of beer per job. Anyway, the OM-1 often made me wistfully think of unloading all my Minolta gear, and replacing it with Olympus. Now, at last...)

Yesterday, dawn finally brought a brightly shining sun with nary a cloud in the sky. I was up around 5:30 a.m. anyway (I'd fallen asleep really early), so I decided to go take some pictures. I drove down to Beavertail Light, on the southern tip of Conanicut Island, which sits in the middle of the entrance to Narragansett Bay. Lovely day, except that it was a bit colder than it had been. Mid-forties, plus the wind was whipping off the ocean, so it was really quite nippy out. Still, the air was crystal clear, making it an excellent day for photography. I took a bunch of photos there, then drove to Fort Getty to take a couple of shots of Dutch Island Light in the West Passage, and then went cross island to Fort Wetherill to take some shots across the East Passage of Castle Hill Light and Newport. Finally, I went off in search of Conanicut Light, the long discontinued light on the north end of the island, but I couldn't find it. I knew that it had been converted to a private home long ago, but I didn't really remember what it looked like, or that the glass dome is no longer on it. After I got home, I tried to pinpoint its exact location on Google Maps for a future expedition, and discovered that I had turned the truck around in its driveway. D'oh! It's a sobering thing to discover that you are Watson instead of Holmes.

After that, I gave up, and decided to play with some of the other stuff I bought, discussion of which will have to wait until the next entry.