Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Inaugurating the new year

with 38 comments

On New Year’s morning I went to Great Hills Park to try out a new camera: I’ve taken the plunge with a Canon mirrorless camera, the EOS R5. Although that means a reduction in picture size of about 11% compared to my EOS 5DS R, a review I’d read said the better resolving power of the five-year-newer sensor could make up for that loss, and in addition there would be greater dynamic range and less noise at each ISO, particularly the higher ones.

One thing that caught my attention in the park was some shelf fungi on the stump of a black willow tree, as shown above. I worked hand-held and without flash at the high ISO of 2500, which let me stop down to f/14 to keep most details sharp. Yes, some noise appeared in the image, but it was tolerable, and processing let me reduce it even more. The next day I returned with my earlier camera and my ring flash to make some more-abstract, edge-on views of the fungi, like the one below.

Does it look to you, as it sometimes does to me, like the front edge of the fungus in the second picture is protruding forward from the plane of your monitor?

❖        ❖        ❖

Last year I reported on two attempts by the current American administration to illegally give out money to people according to their race. One program involved farmers, and another program involved restaurant owners. Thankfully, judges eventually ruled both programs unconstitutional because they discriminated against people based on their race.

Now New York State is flouting the equal-rights protection that the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees to all citizens. On December 27, 2021, the state’s Department of Health announced that it is going to prioritize giving certain Covid-19 medicines to non-white people: “Non-white race or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity should be considered a risk factor, as longstanding systemic health and social inequities have contributed to an increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.” The organization America First Legal has threatened to sue if New York State doesn’t rescind that illegal policy of prioritizing medicines based on the race of an ill patient.

The obvious solution is to prioritize people based on their actual conditions. The aged are at high risk, as are the obese and people with other co-morbidities. Those are the groups who should get priority. If it so happens that more non-whites than whites fall into those categories, fine, but the rationing of medicine will be on medical grounds, not prima facie—and illegally—according to race.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 7, 2022 at 4:39 AM

38 Responses

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  1. Another risk factor is where a person lives, so bring the vaccine there.
    Impressive results with your mirrorless Canon, Steve.


    January 7, 2022 at 4:56 AM

    • As far as I can tell, vaccines are available everywhere, even in rural areas. I can’t be sure that’s true in a little town like Union Springs, where I lived for half a year, but even if not, someone from there can easily drive the 45 minutes down to Ithaca. When it comes to the availability of so-called therapeutics, i.e treatments for people who’ve caught Covid-19, I don’t know the status. And of course there’s a big shortage of Covid-19 tests everywhere.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 7, 2022 at 7:03 AM

    • I’ve upgraded through a bunch of Canon camera bodies, the most recent being the EOS 7D, 5D Mark III, and 5DS R. Going from each of those to the next entailed little learning: I could pretty much work effectively with each new body right away based on what I knew from the previous one. The jump to the mirrorless R5 is different. A lot has been added, and I’ve felt like the camera is controlling me rather than the other way around. There are three control dials rather than the previous two, and I’ve found myself going from one to another trying to find the one that does a certain thing. The manual is a whopping 900 pages long and doesn’t even include an index!

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 7, 2022 at 7:19 AM

  2. It seems strange to me that I’ve not heard anyone talking about the cozy relationship between Pfizer and the government. The day after the Pfizer CEO made the announcement that boosters ‘probably’ would be necessary, our radio stations were overrun with ads for Pfizer vaccine, thinly disguised as encouragement for vaccination generally. Then, ‘public service announcements’ from the CDC began to be broadcast, with dual sponsorship from the government and Pfizer. As one who chose the Moderna vaccine, I’ve been wondering why I’ve not heard a peep about that option. Finally, the Moderna CEO popped up this week, advising that a fourth Moderna booster might be needed.

    In other news, reported on NPR on November 24, “[Pfizer] just inked a more than $5 billion deal with the Biden administration for its COVID-19 pill.” Sometimes, it’s hard not to be cynical.

    As for the camera, I’ll take a page from Eve’s book and say, “Happy New!” I did follow the link to the camera, and spent about a half hour wandering around and repeating one of my favorite mantras: “The best camera is the camera you have.” I think I’m recovered now, and I’m eager to see what some time spent with that 900 page manual yields.


    January 7, 2022 at 7:48 AM

    • Here’s the link to the NPR piece.


      January 7, 2022 at 7:56 AM

      • After the pandemic hit in early 2020, Pfizer’s stock price plunged to a low of around 27.5 in the middle of March. Since then its price has gradually worked its way back up. Last month it reached its all-time high of 61.71 but has fallen back a bit since then, closing at 54.84 yesterday. Why the price should have fallen 7 points when Pfizer is selling tons of vaccines and now its therapeutic pill, I don’t understand.

        Steve Schwartzman

        January 7, 2022 at 8:21 AM

    • I have heard several people on television mention the windfall that Covid-19 has been to Pfizer. While I’m as cynical as anyone—more than most, even—it’s only fair for a company to earn a lot when it does good work. That’s what the rapidly developed vaccines seemed a year ago. We got our Pfizer shots as soon as we could, including a booster six months to the day after our second shot. Now, alas, as we’ve all been finding out these past weeks, while the vaccines cut down on serious infections and hospitalizations and deaths, they don’t keep people from getting and spreading the virus to other people. And it’s looking like we may have to get a booster every six months in perpetuity. Let’s hope everything scientists have learned in the past two years leads them to a different kind of vaccine that works better.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 7, 2022 at 8:13 AM

      • I’m not at all concerned with Pfizer’s profit: only with what has seemed a preference for one company over others, and a lack of information for those who’ve received other vaccines.


        January 7, 2022 at 8:15 AM

        • You make a good point. I wonder if Pfizer has a better PR department than Moderna. I almost never hear about the Johnson and Johnson vaccine anymore.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 7, 2022 at 8:23 AM

    • As for the camera, the biggest difference in terms of operation is that the screen on the back, which folds out and even swivels, is now touch-sensitive and allows control of all the camera’s functions. I’m six-decades-used to looking through the viewfinder and feeling for the relevant buttons and dials as I do so. That’s what I gravitate to doing on the new camera. How often, if ever, I’ll find the screen useful and will change settings there remains to be seen. One nice feature of the screen is that if you’re looking at a picture you’ve already taken, you can zoom in and enlarge it by spreading two fingers, just as you do on an iPhone.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 7, 2022 at 8:33 AM

      • Interesting. The screen on mine (Rebel EOS T6s) folds out and swivels, too. I have the ability to use a touch-sensitive shutter, but there’s an extra step to get to camera settings and use touch to adjust them. I do have the ability to zoom photos with that two-finger technique. I don’t pay much attention to gear, but I did take a look and found the T6s was introduced in 2015. I wonder if things like the screen’s zoom function were introduced then, were found useful, and then added to other camera bodies.


        January 7, 2022 at 8:50 AM

        • I can confirm from living in the Canon digital line for close to two decades that various new features have indeed appeared in the Rebel line before getting incorporated into the D line.

          I’ve noticed in the manual that the R5 also allows for a touch-sensitive shutter. I haven’t tried it out yet. One thing that I suppose is an advantage but which I’ve found confusing is that you can change a setting in multiple ways using different dials and buttons. Of the many ways to move the focal point in the frame, I eventually realized the easiest is the one I’m used to from before.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 7, 2022 at 9:12 AM

  3. This is the second post of mushrooms this morning. The other one was posted in Germany. I would have trouble finding some here in BC under half a metre of snow.

    Peter Klopp

    January 7, 2022 at 8:28 AM

    • Happy half-meter of snow. That’s hardly surprising for January where you are.

      Your mention of Germany got me wondering about the origin of the German word for mushroom, Pilz. I found this interesting etymology in Wiktionary:

      East Central German form with initial bp and unrounding, from Middle High German bülez, bülz, from Old High German buliz, early borrowing from Latin bōlētus, whence English bolete.

      I know the Latin word bōlētus but would never have guessed it as the source of Pilz.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 7, 2022 at 8:38 AM

      • Thanks for the explanation, Steve! I would have never guessed the connection between Pilz and boletus.

        Peter Klopp

        January 8, 2022 at 8:48 AM

        • Then we’re zero for two on that one. Sometimes the form of a word changes so much that no one would guess the result based on the original.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 8, 2022 at 8:57 AM

  4. Great pictures, Steve! 🙂


    January 7, 2022 at 1:18 PM

    • Thanks. Fungi make good subjects.
      In my reply to the previous comment I gave some interesting German etymology.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 7, 2022 at 3:35 PM

  5. I think those are oyster mushrooms, Pleurotus ostreatus, which are considered tasty although the second seems a bit “withered”.
    I almost bit for the 5DS-R but decided that I have been happy with the 5DMark IV. About the only reason to upgrade would have been the larger file size and with Lightroom’s new Enhance uprez I do have the option if needed. Of course, the same could be the case with the 5DS-R making for a ginormous file.

    Steve Gingold

    January 8, 2022 at 3:02 AM

    • Your suggestion of Pleurotus ostreatus seems right on. A couple who passed by while I was photographing referred to these as oyster mushrooms and I’d meant to check the book Texas Mushrooms but didn’t get around to it till just now, when I found the species you suggested. Its entry even mentions willows as one of the three kinds of trees this fungus grows on, and the range is given as all of Texas.

      My understanding is that the 5D Mark IV has better dynamic range than the older 5DS R. About a year ago I bought Topaz Gigapixel AI, not to enlarge pictures from the 5DS R but from older cameras with much smaller file sizes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2022 at 6:36 AM

      • Oyster mushrooms are particularly prized by foragers and once I was hiking in Quabbin when I came across a row of maples that had all been harvested of a large number of the mushrooms. Someone must have brought in a ladder, at least a half mile hike with no vehicle entry unless by the DCR maintenance crews, or climbed the trees.

        Steve Gingold

        January 8, 2022 at 2:59 PM

        • That was dedication to get to those oyster mushrooms half a mile in. The Texas book says they’re among the easiest to recognize, but I’d still be wary of trying to eat any I found in the wild, just in case I’m wrong.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 8, 2022 at 3:33 PM

          • And that’s why I don’t forage, especially for mushrooms. Although these are pretty easy to identify, as are chicken of the woods, it is easy to make a mistake. Most toxic mushrooms just cause GI distress but several can be fatal. Since I don’t pick wild anything I don’t do spore prints which are the safest way to identify them. Some folks are excellent at knowing them but, like you, I am too cautious plus again I leave nature as I find it.

            Steve Gingold

            January 8, 2022 at 3:40 PM

            • The only mushrooms we’ve ever gathered in the wild and eaten are morels, which are so distinctive that nothing else in central Texas could be confused with them. We’re still alive years after eating what we gathered.

              Steve Schwartzman

              January 8, 2022 at 4:00 PM

  6. You’ve made great use of the EOS R5’s dynamic range in that top photo – I love that you can still see the detail of the wood as well as all the variations in the light areas. I have the 5D mark IV and I like its dynamic range but I’m using DPP rather than Lightroom.

    Ann Mackay

    January 8, 2022 at 10:22 AM

    • Coincidentally at this very minute I’m looking at Canon’s Digital Photo Professional and it’s driving me crazy because it will only recognize certain folders and not others. So far in just one week the complications from the R5 have caused and keep causing me more trouble than all the previous Canon cameras put together that I’ve used for 20 years.

      In the top picture the stump was actually even more visible but I darkened it a little because I didn’t want it to distract from the fungus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2022 at 10:33 AM

      • How odd – I wonder if you need to update your DPP to deal with the R5? I haven’t had a problem with it – yet! (Crossing my fingers!)

        Ann Mackay

        January 8, 2022 at 10:47 AM

        • I’ve got the latest version of DPP, so that’s not the problem. I actually want to use Adobe Photo Downloader, a component of Photoshop, which is what I’m used to using, but Adobe Photo Downloader won’t recognize the kind of CF Express card that the R5 uses. (It will recognize SD cards, which the R5 also has a slot for, but the CF Express card is much faster.) When I spoke with Adobe technical support, the rep did some checking and confirmed that Photo Downloader can’t read that kind of card. It’s a bummer.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 8, 2022 at 10:59 AM

          • Certainly is a bummer – hope you can find a good solution.

            Ann Mackay

            January 8, 2022 at 11:19 AM

            • After my comment to you I went online and found a workaround for the CF Express card problem. Turns out that if I don’t use a card reader the way I’m used to but instead connect the camera to my computer with a USB cable, then Adobe Photo Downloader does find the CF Express card inside the camera and is able to download the pictures normally. Success!

              Steve Schwartzman

              January 8, 2022 at 11:50 AM

  7. How fun a new camera! I hope you like it. I stepped into mirrorless with my Fuji camera for wildlife. It’s not too bad at all! I’m thinking about going with the Nikon Z system when my D810 is getting really long in the tooth.

    Yes, that front edge seems to jump off the page!


    January 8, 2022 at 10:44 AM

    • Thanks for confirming the “jumpiness” of that front edge.

      The R5 has so many dials and buttons, and they’re different enough from the previous Canon models I’ve used, that I’m often not sure what to do to make something happen. I’ve also been having download problems, particularly because Adobe Photo Downloader, which I’m used to using, won’t recognize the kind of CF Express card that the R5 uses. I’ve spoken with Canon technical support twice and will be calling again.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2022 at 10:52 AM

      • I did just talk with Canon technical support and managed to solve one of the two problems I was having. I also went online and found a workaround for my Adobe Photo Downloader problem. Two for two in just an hour!

        Steve Schwartzman

        January 8, 2022 at 11:53 AM

      • That’s weird b/c Adobe usually updates things like that. I use Adobe’s photo down loader as well. I’m guessing you’re completely up to date with updates to Photoshop/Bridge and ACR?

        I just did a quick search and someone said LR sees the card. Do you have Lightroom? You can try to upload your images with LR to see if that works. I’m not a LR user myself having started with Photoshop back when it came with a real paper back manual but, once in awhile I open it and play with it.


        January 8, 2022 at 12:01 PM

        • I don’t use Lightroom, either. I thought about trying to download that way but didn’t want to mess with such complicated software. Here’s the workaround I found online: turns out that if I don’t use a card reader the way I’m used to but instead connect the camera to my computer with a USB cable, then Adobe Photo Downloader does find the CF Express card inside the camera and is able to download the pictures normally. Bingo!

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 8, 2022 at 12:21 PM

        • Reports of the problem with Adobe Photo Downloader not being able to see a CF Express card in a card reader go back at least as far as August 1, 2020, so Adobe has been irresponsible in still not having fixed the problem almost a year and a half later.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 8, 2022 at 12:31 PM

  8. Happy new year with a new camera! New equipment is always exciting! Yes, the front edge of the fungus is protruding forward from the plane of my monitor.

    Alessandra Chaves

    January 9, 2022 at 10:19 PM

    • Thanks. There is more of a jump to learning this camera than previous models. I’ve managed to solve or find a workaround for several of the problems I had with it. So far I’ve taken it out in nature only once but am looking forward to doing to again soon.

      I once worked extensively in making side-by-side 3-D prints, and the photograph of this mushroom reminded me of how objects protrude through the frame in that system.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 10, 2022 at 4:53 AM

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