John at 80, Boston

John, Boston © Steven Willard

If you were here a couple of posts ago you will recognize my friend John. I was in somewhat of a hurry to process images, and managed to skip over this frame. Later, feeling more at ease, I went back through the series and decided this frame warranted closer look.

I started  by moving the file into an app called PhotoCopier. This app has a lot of filters that are supposed to render your images in the style of paintings, or well known photographers, but the filters I like are under the list called “Processes”. Here you can select from an assortment of filters that mimic, sort of, alternative processes like platinum palladium, wet plate or Polaroid transfer. I pick one and fiddle with the sliders until I like what I see then save it to my camera roll. Rarely am I completely happy with the image at this point, and for this portrait I went to my most used app, Snapseed, where I corrected the color balance (yes even black and white can benefit from attention to color balance. In this instance the image was too green for my taste as it came from PhotoCopier). There was also some light use of the brush tool to juggle some tones-shadows under the eyes for instance. I added the frame and saved the image to my camera roll. All this took about ten minutes on my iPad Pro. As it turns out, I think this is one of the best portraits I’ve made.

Olympus OMD-EM1 with 12-40mm f2.8 zoom.

I’ll be back

Boston Sundown ©. Steven Willard

Boston, at least the part I recently visited, is a handsome city. But even a handsome city can benefit by good light, and on this evening it glowed.The problem of course was that it didn’t last, and I was under pressure to take advantage of it while it lasted. Of course if I was a pro I would have known in advance where to be and when, but I’m not a pro and I didn’t. Instead I sat enjoying a delicious dinner at an Indian restaurant*and almost missed this sunset altogether. I think it was the photographer Weegee who coined the phrase “f8 and be there”, and that at least gets the spirit right if not the particulars. While f8 may not always be the correct aperture, if you aren’t there it doesn’t matter. And we all know if you don’t have a camera it doesn’t matter either.

You might like to know that although it was the light on the buildings that attracted my attention and caused me to pause, it was the YMCA sign with half the letters turn off that persuaded me to stop and make some exposures.

* The restaurant was Mumbai Spice on Massachusetts Ave. near Symphony Hall. I liked what I had so much, and the portion so generous I happily to the leftovers for another meal. But wait, the next night I went back and ordered the same thing, and took those leftovers, too. Then I ordered another meal just like it to go! Don’t say it. You should have seen me juggling the camera and the bag with my food. Maybe it’s better you didn’t.

Olympus OMD EM5 with 20mm f1.7 lens, processed in Snapseed.


When in Boston © Steven Willard

Well I’d like to go, but the timing was off. It seems like I have been familiar with the Boston Pops most of my life. They have been around long enough, having been founded in 1885 as the alter ego to the Boston Symphany Orchestra. My folks were fond of classical music, and my dad had a small, but nice collection of records that were often played. (Anyone out there remember when complete symphony recordings came on a stack of 45rpm records?) But he thoroughly enjoyed the “lighter” repertoire of the Pops. On a recent trip to Boston I was surprised to discover that my Airbnb room was only three blocks away. I don’t know why I was surprised, after all, it has to be someplace, right? I just didn’t expect it to be…you know, right there in Boston. Actually they do spend a lot of time on the road, but musicians will do anything for a decent gig and a paycheck.

Olympus OMD EM1 with 12-40mm f2.8 zoom, processes in Snapseed.


Up from the depths

Up from the depths © Steven Willard

Well someone must have realized that Boston has a parking problem, not a problem exactly, there is parking, you just have to go looking for it; below ground.

As part of the walkabout with John Ames* yesterday, the first order of business was to find a place to ditch my car, and John knew just the place. Beneath famous Boston Commons is a multilevel labyrinth (where GPS is useless) that has parking for more cars than all of Woodbury, CT, my old hometown. Sometimes there’s no substitute for a guide.

*Visit John’s blog here

Olympus OMD EM-1 with 12-40mm f2.8 zoom, processed in Snapseed.


John-the witness protection portrait © Steven Willard

My friend Ronnie knew I was planning a trip to meet one of the people who has been following this blog for several years. I follow his also. I told Ronnie I’d post a few images, here you are. John and I finally managed to get together for a face to face this weekend.

I had gotten to the point that I felt that I really knew John, as though I had known him personally for years, and after the first few minutes I was convinced that I was right. I can’t explain it…don’t really need to. It sort of like sitting at a lunch counter and sticking up a conversation with a complete stranger, and feeling like you’ve known them for years. They are members of your karass and that’s all t here is to it.

We had a great time and I look forward to seeing him again soon.


John #2 © Steven Willard

This is what he looks like when he isn’t sticking his camera in your face!

*See Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Cat’s Cradle

Both images made with the Olympus OMD EM-1 and 12-40mm f2.8 zoom, processed in Snapseed.

Afternoon Shadows


I had arrived in Boston, and had been looking for a place to park. Who knew that was going to be such a big deal? I had asked my Airbnb host if there was parking nearby, and should have realized that the pause before he answered was significant. “Yeah, there is on street parking close by, but not right here.”  As it turns out, much of inner Boston is divided up into these little neighborhoods, and each one has it’s own parking permit, so technically I could park on any street close by…if I didn’t mind getting a ticket. Well eventually I managed find a spot on the same street. Four blocks away. I thought I was doing good until I discovered that it was only because it was Sunday, and come Monday, I would only be able to park there for two hours. Did I mention what a beautiful day it was, and how wonderful the city looked?

Where was I? The point of all that is that this building was right where I parked, and after driving around for what seemed like a long time I was ready to make a photograph. Did I mention that the whole time I was driving around I had to pee? Another thing they don’t tell you about getting old.

I’m in Boston for a meet up with another WordPress blogger. We have become something like pen pals, and one day I asked John if he would be interested in meeting face to face. He was, and we are. I’ll let you know how that goes. I think it’s going to be a hoot.

Olympus OMD EM1 with 12-40mmf2.8 zoom, processed in Snapseed.


“You can lead…” © Steven Willard

This such an old joke I’m embarrassed to use it. Embarrassed, not unwilling. If you aren’t familiar with Dorothy Parker you should do a quick search, I can promise you will find something there that will make you laugh. We could all use a good laugh these days.

Olympus OMD EM1 with 12-40MM F2.8 zoom, processed in Snapseed.