A few years ago my parents decided to replace their aging clothes washer with something a bit more modern and efficient, and they ended up getting one of those top-loading models without the giant central agitator that most washing machines have had for decades. My dad, his feet firmly planted in the concrete foundations of The Old School, didn’t trust that thing at all. When they first got it he was appalled at how little water it used and he thought there was no way it could clean his clothes, so he removed the magnetic latch from the top door in order that he might inspect its handiwork firsthand. He literally sat on a stool and watched it do an entire load of laundry just to make sure the washer was doing its job and, while they still have the machine, I’m not entirely sure he trusts it even to this day.

So, when we were visiting in March of this year my boys were fascinated at how they could watch the device clean clothes with the lid open. Just like their grandpa, they sat and watched it as it went through a load of laundry (fill-swish-rinse-drain-etc.) and I thought it would make for an interesting photo opportunity since you don’t normally get to see the inside of a washing machine. I used my Fuji X100F to get this shot which was great since the lens was wide enough to get a good view of the washer and I could use the rear screen to compose my shots too.

The only major issue was focusing, since the constant spinning motion confused my camera and never quite allowed for good autofocus. I ended up focusing manually and just kind of eyeballing it (even the focus-assist features, like peaking, were having trouble with the washer) and got several shots at various shutter speeds–some too fast, some too slow, and other like this one that were juuuust right. But you know what did it for me in this particular image? The fact that the three center…uh…arms, or whatever they are, are sitting right about at 10, 2, and 6 o’clock. I had other shots where they didn’t have that kind of symmetry and it just didn’t look right, but something about the way they lined up here was really pleasing from a visual standpoint.

So yeah, the next time you want an interesting photo-op, just try doing a load of clothes!


  1. Albert erickson says

    I think I would like your dad. Good post.

  2. Susan Ringsmuth says

    Your dad will only use the bulk load setting for anything that he washes because he still thinks that any other setting doesn’t use enough water.

  3. Two of the worst experiences of my life happened with oour old washing machine back on Benton Street. The first was, my mom tossed my real bear-skin rug into the washing machine “because it was dusty.” That machine tore that bear-sking all to pieces! I bawled my eyes out, but later used the scraps and remnants as clothes for my GI Joe and Johnny West dolls. My second bad experience happened when I put my Captain Action doll inside my GI Joe scuba gear, dropped him in the running washing machine, and watched as Captain Action the deep sea diver went around and around at 90MPH!! When I pulled him out, he was missing the lower half of his left arm!!

  4. Simon,

    I like the photo. Not many people would think to take a photograph of that.

    When I was very young, we had a wringer washer–the type where the cloths were washed in the basket and then you had to run them through a wringer to get the water out. Somehow, I got my arm in the wringer. It didn’t seem to do any real harm, but my mother was sure concerned.

  5. What an interesting experiment.

    • It was fun to try, and also find the right combination of aperture and shutter speed. Too fast and it just looked like circles and not motion. Too slow and it just looked like a mistake.

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