47 pictures

“Do you want to see the 47 pictures I took of a pen?” is the new “Do you want to know how long it took me to run 3.5 miles today and how I felt about running those miles?”

You know how when people start worshiping at the Church of Long Distance Running that’s suddenly all they talk about or tweet about or write about? Regularly posting about how long they ran, their distance, what their route was, and how their knees took the run? Making you feel like a sack of out-of-shape shit because your lungs burst into flames that shoot out of your ears and gums halfway through a casual jog from your house to your mailbox?

That same thing happens to people when they get their first DSLR camera. They start talking about cameras and weird things like shutter speed and apertures and they make plans with their friends to go “shoot” and they start pinning pictures of lenses they’re lusting after on Pinterest like the rest of us pin pictures of John Malkovich. What? That man still rings my bell. I can’t help it. Ringalingaling.

Where were we? Right. I got a DSLR camera. Nothing new. A nice used Nikon D60 my husband found on eBay for me and so last night I asked him, “Do you want to see the 47 pictures I took of a pen?” and he looked at me like I said “Do you want to see the 47 pictures I took of a pen?” Batshit.

Here are some pictures I took of my pen. If these intrigue you and whet your appetite for pictures of pens or if you’re into pen porn (hiya, weirdos on Google searching for “pen porn”), I’ll be happy to put all 47 pictures on Flickr so you can see the 47 pictures I took of this pen. My favorite pen. The pen that Burgher Victor Kahn, who runs Happy to be Here, presents to people putting smiles on others’ faces. The pen handmade using different woods. The pen you can’t buy, but have to earn.

The pen I took 47 pictures of.



Also, immediately after this, I took 14 pictures of some numbers I scribbled on printouts I was using to research my next column at Pittsburgh Magazine.


I plan to sell prints on Etsy.


You’re just jelly ’cause my aperture punches your aperture right in the nose.

Or something.



  1. Lindsay
    January 20, 2012 1:45 pm

    Hah! If I had a DSLR camera, I can guarantee that I would do exactly the same thing. ;-)

    PS – I was secretly hoping you would post all 47 pictures.

  2. astroidb612
    January 20, 2012 1:53 pm

    Is that a pen holster? that’s one badass pen if it is…

  3. TracyinSC
    January 20, 2012 1:57 pm

    The first time I took my husband’s DLSR to see my new niece, I took over 500 pictures over the course of maybe 5 days?


  4. Norm
    January 20, 2012 2:17 pm

    That pen is so photogenic.

  5. bigslacker
    January 20, 2012 2:27 pm

    I want to see a post about how you can snap photos with your new DLSR cam while long distance running. With photographic evidence.

  6. Lauren
    January 20, 2012 2:46 pm

    Awesome. Now when my mother-in-law raises eyebrows about how I’m not at church on Sunday mornings, I can tell her that I belong to the Church of Long Distance Running.

  7. Mike S.
    January 20, 2012 2:58 pm

    It’s all good until you become one of those people that are constantly taking pictures of your food. Drives me bat-freaking crazy.

    Waiter/Waitress delivers food…

    3 people at the table whip out their cell phones to take photos of said food.

  8. Kim Forrest
    January 20, 2012 3:17 pm

    OMG – Got a DSLR for my birthday and I took 500 photos of my dogs – using all the special effects. Of course they were the stars of my Christmas Cards too – whatever did we do before Costco allowed us to make our own Christmas/Holiday Cards?

  9. Butcher's Dog
    January 20, 2012 3:23 pm

    Why does it look for all the world like the pen rests on a knife sheath? A big-ass, not-for-peeling-spuds knife? Just curious.

    Plus, you’re an aperature poser unless you did SLR photography with real, rolled-up film. Preferably black and white. Like I did with my yearbook staffs back in the day. As always, just sayin’.

  10. empirechick
    January 20, 2012 3:36 pm

    Butcher’s Dog – not only did I take pictures with a 1980’s Olympus SLR, I developed them myself in the college darkroom. One of those fabulous J-Term classes at Westminster that counted as my lab science credit!

    I finally stepped up to a Canon XSi last year (from Craig’s List) and I love it. But the problem with digital photography is what you save in the cost of film and developing, you more than lose in going through the zillions of shots to find the 3 that are keepers.

  11. rjq
    January 20, 2012 3:43 pm

    I like that pen. werq.

  12. Dash66
    January 20, 2012 3:44 pm

    Awesome. If you’re anything like me, you won’t stop taking tons of pictures with the camera. I got mine less than 6 months ago, and already I’ve taken over 8000 pictures… even though I make myself leave my camera behind alot so that I don’t live my life behind the veiwfinder! Enjoy it all you want – as long as it doesn’t take time away from writing your column. If it does, then my response is “THE CAMERA IS EVIL! KILL IT WITH FIRE!!!” :-)

  13. Dash66
    January 20, 2012 3:47 pm

    BTW, I like the photos, with the contrasts in colors and textures.

  14. bluzdude
    January 20, 2012 3:55 pm

    All you DSLR people can kiss my aperture! Now picture Ginny’s husband saying ‘focus.’

  15. hello haha narf
    January 20, 2012 4:40 pm

    i totally covet you new used camera.
    i wanna take 47 pictures of a pen.
    (p.s. i am crazy happy for you. enjoy!)

  16. Steve
    January 20, 2012 5:39 pm

    Had an interesting experience this fall. I was talking to a person that I had recently met, and he kept winking all the time. Was is the sun? Was it dust? Was he always telling a joke?

    After about 30 minutes with him I found out that he was a professional photographer.

  17. cmd_45
    January 20, 2012 7:27 pm


    Hubbie and I are both Westminster grads (’96 and ’98)…how about you?

  18. Jayne
    January 20, 2012 8:00 pm

    I took about that many when I got my newest camera. A Canon with the “fish eye” setting built in! Only I took them of a fan while playing with the settings. I have 3 dslrs plus my “big” Canon. We all gotta have our hobbies right?

  19. Pensgirl
    January 20, 2012 8:49 pm

    As a calligrapher, I can look at pen pictures all day (even non-fancy regular pens). And that is a cool pen with a cooler story.

  20. bucdaddy
    January 21, 2012 1:35 am

    Kodak just filed bankruptcy.

    I hope you’re happy.

    (BTW, it’s their just reward for spending so many years making it easier and easier for people to take shitty pictures).

    Also, the only running bucdaddy does is to the fridge for another beer.

  21. Butcher's Dog
    January 21, 2012 10:20 am

    @empirechick: I think I love you! I learned the darkroom stuff at Slippery Rock about a decade earlier. Had my yearbook kids do their own developing and printing. I had this strange idea that school activities should be, you know, educational experiences as well. Likewise, when I directed plays, the cast members built the sets and moved things around that needed to be moved. No “stage crew” for little divas to mistreat. I figured it was a bit harder to develop an attitude when you had to spend time picking splinters out of your fingers.

  22. bucdaddy
    January 21, 2012 11:44 am


    I took a bunch of photo classes as electives at Point Park, spent many a happy hour there inhaling darkroom chemicals. Probably explains a lot about me today.

    I used my dad’s camera, some German thing he bought when he was in the Navy. No auto focus, none of that fancy crap; I had to guesstimate the distance of the subject and the F-stop setting and all that. It was a CHALLENGE to take pictures in my day, sonny.

    The lens folded back into the body of the camera so that it was about the size of a flask. Way convenient for sneaking into places they didn’t want you to have a camera in those days, such as rock concerts.

    (You kids with your camera phones, you’ll never have the thrill of illegal picture-taking, unless you join the CIA or something …)

    I wonder where that camera is? Maybe I gave it back to dad, like I should have.

  23. empirechick
    January 21, 2012 12:39 pm

    @cmd_45 – I’m class of ’93. I lived in Minteer, one of the overflow houses by Shaw. At the time it was directly opposite the TUB – it’s now a parking lot. :-( I visited campus a couple years ago – first time since the new McKelvey Center was built. My, how things have changed!!

    @B Dog – My parents bought that Olympus when it was the latest and greatest, then got away from it when point-n-shoots came around. I put many many rolls of film through it in college and beyond, until my niece came along (2000). As soon as she started moving, not having autofocus was a major liability.

    I don’t remember much about the chemical process of the darkroom, other than how cool it was to slowly see your image come through on the paper. Damn kids today have no idea what it’s like to wait for anything! ;-)

  24. Butcher's Dog
    January 21, 2012 3:01 pm

    @bucdaddy and empirechick: Darkroom work was major fun. I, too, inhaled my share of the chemicals, maybe more than my share. I, too, think that kids today don’t understand what kind of fun we had back then. We had Nikkormat slr 35mms for most of the stuff and a 120 double lens reflex (looked down through the top and had to move the camera opposite of the way things looked because there was only one mirror, not two) for larger group photos. After a while we also got bulk rolls of black and white film, like 50 or 100 feet, and loaded our own cartridges. Worked well for yearbook because we didn’t have to shoot an entire 24 or 36 exposure roll of, say, a basketball game. If they didn’t load the roll correctly onto the spool for film development, it got ruined. Talk about responsibility! Good stuff and I think my kids were better off for doing things that way, too. Watching the image slowly emerge on the printer paper under that red light is still one of the coolest things ever.

  25. Butcher's Dog
    January 21, 2012 3:05 pm

    Oh, and Ginny? That “kids up early on a Saturday” thing? It passes with the onset of adolesence, when their idea of a perfect day is staying up until 3 and then sleeping until 3. Parents get their turns at bat during that age. Save up all the little irritations, write them down if you don’t think you’ll remember them all, and then come out swinging when it’s your turn. While I never overturned a mattress to get The Pup out of bed back in the day, I threatened it in a tone that bespoke my desire to do so. Just sayin’.

  26. Liz
    January 21, 2012 9:40 pm

    Welcome to the land of DSLR. Any pets and/or small children will soon be annoyed by your constant photographing them as you try out new settings/work on manual/get a new lens.

    Also, I like yo’ pen. Moar pen pics!

  27. Butcher's Dog
    January 22, 2012 1:26 pm

    RIP, Joe Paterno. I wish you’d gotten due process before you got let go. With any luck your legacy will include much more of what you did for the academic side of the university than anything else.

  28. Mirth
    January 22, 2012 3:21 pm

    Always good to get your camera for less than retail and I love, love, love my Nikon. But I also loved taking classes in film photography, it was a blast. So much so that I was highly disappointed when my husband refused to turn our guest room into a dark room for me. I mean really? We have a couch. Anyway, I actually like your pen picture. As Dash66 says, it has nice contrast and textures. Look at you all artsy and stuff.

  29. mike
    January 22, 2012 9:49 pm

    i’ve been looking for pen porn all night. glad that I found this post. thank you for sharing.

  30. bucdaddy
    January 23, 2012 1:43 am

    “Do you want to see the 47 pictures I took of a pen?” is

    Thanks, I’d really rather not.


    Back in J-school, when the chief of the department was trying to emphasize the importance of good copyediting, he mentioned the headline over a story about a state’s chief executive who had signed a lot of bills the previous day:

    “Governor’s pen is busy”

    Only that’s not quite how it appeared in the newspaper.