Posts by russmorrisphoto

Somewhat obsessed with taking pictures since 1964

An oasis of cool.

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Cars and Coffee Austin

There’s a monthly car show held at the Oasis Restaurant on Lake Travis called Cars and Coffee Austin. It’s an easy half-hour drive from the Circle-M Ranch. Torri and I haven’t been to the lake yet and I wanted to check out both the car show and scout the restaurant.

I went as a participant in a North Austin Pfotographic Society field trip and did manage to find two folks, Josh and Clay, while walking the grounds.

The car show was quite big, with a mix of classic cars, trucks, motorcycles, and a lot of newer model high-performance automobiles.

And it was hot. High 90s if not into the low 100s. I wore my large-brimmed straw gardening hat, shorts, and a loose fitting light-colored T-shirt. I almost wore flip-flops, but opted for slip-on Skechers. Good thing… the car show was split between pavement and a dirt lot.

I shot with two cameras, my trusty LX100 and my good ‘ol GF1, with the Pinwide Slit and the Lensbaby Composer Pro/Sweet 35 combo. I got around 150 shots total, maybe 15 or so keepers.

The coolest part was doing a little panning as cars departed the area. Josh and I stood in the shade of some trees and bushes, leaning on a few good-sized boulders strewn along the side of the road. There’s a pedestrian crosswalk at the west end of the showspace on Comanche Trail, so the cars would let folks pass, then jump on the accelerator and fly by us.

I got a few decent pans with a cool blurry backgrounds using shutter priority, setting the LX100 to a super slow 1/8 – 1/15th shutter speed. I also attached an adjustable Neutral Density filter to the lens, hoping to coax a wider lens opening for greater depth of field on a very bright day.

Josh and I headed up to the Tap Room at about 11 a.m. to see if we’d meet any other club members for lunch. That’s when I caught a glimpse of Clay a level below taking pictures.

We noticed the Tap Room was closed, so we made our way downstairs and bumped into Clay, deciding instead to have lunch at the Oasis. Inside. Where it was air conditioned.

Good food and conversation lasted a little over an hour, learning more about the guys over lunch, and we had a great view of the lake t’boot.

Torri n’me are definitely going to head back to the Oasis for lunch in the near future.

Going To California.

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7 days in July.

It’s funny, ironic, what we remember. We took a trip to California mid-July, stayed for week, visiting family and friends.

We also hit our fave restaurants, drove through the old neighborhood, and checked on our old home. We lived in that tiny little house for 28 years.

My memories of California life some two years after moving to Texas had become somewhat rosey, romantic. As we drove around, it just seemed like the area looked a bit worn down.

The drought restrictions, I’m sure, had a lot to do with the overall appearance of yards we saw in our daily meanderings, but things just did not seem the same.

Heartbreaking.

Even so, I was still able to find glimpses of beauty with my camera while walking around my father-in-law’s neighborhhood…

Cool little gizmo.

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Top Notch.

I’d been wanting to make one of the Top Notch Hot Rod Drive-ins for a while now, yet another Austin Summer tradition to experience.

I recently added a Fujifilm SQ10 to my camera collection and Top Notch seemed like a good event to see what kind of pictures I could make with it.

The camera is a little different from other instant cameras Fuji sells. It produces square images, hence the ‘SQ’ in the camera name, and is capable of taking pictures, saving them on an added storage card, then going back later and editing each shot, using in-camera filters, tweaking exposure compensation, and adding vignetting, then printing them.

At around $12-$17 bucks for a 10-pack of film, this feature will (hopefully) lead to fewer wasted shots!

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Fujifilm SQ10

There’s a smallish 2 13/16″ by 1 7/16″ display on the back of the camera that’s actually fairly clear when framing or chimping and the interface is pretty easy to navigate, both physically and digitally.

The shape of the camera is a little odd, and kinda’ heavy, but considering all it needs to contain and the functions it performs, seems there was little choice.

The lens has a 28mm focal length, uses a ƒ2.4 aperture, and captures images at 3.69 megapixels.

The physical print is 2 13/16″ wide by 3 7/16″ tall and the image size is 2 7/16″ square.

The digital images can be transferred from the storage media, which is a MicroSDHC card that came with a SD adapter.

It’s a pretty cool little gizmo, actually. I took about a dozen shots at Top Notch and the above three were my faves, so I printed them last night and scanned ’em this morning.

Like I said, pretty cool.

Good eye.

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Contemplative photography.

Last night I learned a new word, er, style, uh, process… hell, I don’t know what it is, but I learned about it on Facebook after joining the Austin Street Photography group, posting one image that was a fairly representative example of my idea and style of street photography, then being politely informed by one of the admins that, no, my image did not conform to the group rules.

I posted a link to my Street set on Flickr so he’d understand that my participation in the group would be futile as all of my work has the same outward appearance and definitely wouldn’t be following group rules.

The admin, Patrick, asked if I’d looked up Minimalism or Miksang. Minimalism is kind of how I’d describe my work. Probably not all of it, but there is a hint of minimal in a lot of the images I’ve made. Miksang, on the other hand, seems to sum up my style entirely.

Well, Miksang-like might be a more accurate description of my way of making images. I’m not religious, spiritual, or anywhere near meditative but there is a certain zone or mindset that I get into when I’m waking around with a camera. I intentionally slow down, look around, see, notice. Everything. But from a playful, off-beat, and humorous perspective.

Defined

From Wikipedia, Miksang is a “Tibetan word meaning “good eye.” It represents a form of contemplative photography based on the Dharma Art teachings of Chögyam Trungpa, in which the eye is in synchronisation with the contemplative mind. The result of this particular perception of the world, combined with photography, produces a peculiar and open way of seeing the world. Miksang pictures tend to bring the observer back into the original contemplation state of the author of the picture. The pictures can bring one back to a purer perception of reality that is often neglected. Miksang involves nothing fancy, no special setup; only a visual capture, in the proper state of mind, of everyday’s reality.”

Describing my work has always seemed difficult. Now, at least, there’s a word I can use when explaining my personal photographic style. Who knew?

Learn more

There a lot of internet resources available and a few books on the subject have been published, and naturally, with a little bit of searching you can find plenty of videos to watch about Miksang…

Web

Nalanda Miksang International
http://www.miksang.org/m/index.html

The Miksang Institute
https://www.miksang.com/

Miksang | Flickr
https://www.flickr.com/groups/miksang/

Miksang | Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/miksang/

Books

Opening the Good Eye
http://openingthegoodeyebook.com/

Looking and Seeing: Nalanda Miksang Contemplative Photography
http://miksangwayofseeing.com/

 

Studies in black and grey.

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Street art.

While we were in California for a recent visit I went for a walk around my Father-in-law’s neighborhood with he and my wife. My intent was purely photographic.

I took a lot of pictures of the usual flowers and interesting parts of houses as we walked and noticed that cracks in the streets had been covered, no, painted over with slurry in a most artistic way.

A good 100 yards of these random strokes stretched down the street and I started shooting them from different angles, trying my best to avoid the sun through the trees landing in the viewfinder.

I’m pretty sure the person who provided this service was more interested in covering cracks than creating pleasing art, but I was quite impressed with the work they did.

A day of picture making in Austin.

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Imagine if cowboys had to pay to hitch their ponies.

Yesterday was a remarkably busy day for me. I wanted to be part of 2 photographic events in Austin – an early morning PhotowalksATX stroll around Second Street and a Randy Kerr meet-up at Umlauf Gardens, preceded by lunch at Uncle Billy’s with the crew hangin’ out with Randy in the afternoon.

It was a great, but tiring day. The humidity was terrible and temps were in the 90s as the day wore on. I shot TtV at both events and met a lot of new people, saw new stuff downtown, and learned bunches from the entire experience.

The parking gripe? I really don’t like paying to hitch my pony. I’d asked for suggestions about free parking for the morning stroll downtown on G+, but really didn’t get any feedback there. On Simi’s July announcement, there was mention of a couple of places that were across the river, one official free public parking lot and the other at what I believe is a city lot that doesn’t get used on Saturdays and Sundays.

So I opted for the questionable lot, as it was a shorter walk over the river up South First to City Hall, the pre-arranged meet-up spot.

The morning walk was phenomenal, there were over a dozen folks in all, and we covered quite a bit of territory in a little over 3 hours. We even got to witness a right-wing protest march. Quite interesting.

Timing was such that I headed straight for Uncle Billy’s for lunch with Randy’s group after the PhotowalksATX stroll. Parking off Barton Springs is in a garage behind the restaurant, and fortunately validation came with the meal. Free! I’m 2 for 2!

There were quite a few folks from the North Austin Pfotographic Society in attendance and a few new people that I got to meet. I had Uncle Billy’s Smoked Chicken Caesar salad and a huge glass of water. Yummy.

Randy announced that parking at Umlauf was a challenge, so I made my way to the front of the restaurant and got my parking stubb validated and headed up to Umlauf Gardens, which is about a half-mile away.

The main parking lot was indeed full, but as I pulled in two cars were preparing to leave, so I held out for a few minutes and got a good end-spot beneath a huge tree. Plenty of shade and once again, FREE! That made 3 for 3!

I got there way before everyone else, so I had a chance to walk about and get some shots on my own. It was my first visit to the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum and I’d heard so much about the garden that I was super jazzed to finally visit. Really pretty cool.

A large corporate donation makes it possible to have free admission for Summer 2017, but I made a small personal donation before I started walking around.

There were quite a few people enjoying the gardens, plenty of sculptures to see, and there were benches to sit on throughout. It was pretty busy the entire time I waited for the other folks to show, but I was able to get quite a few shots before Randy corralled everyone in one corner of the garden.

Randy gave a passionate talk about reflectivity, tonality, and light with great supporting visuals, and talked about using in-camera tools to achieve contrast, then gave a live demonstration with umbrellas, lights, reflectors, and an honest-to-goodness light meter! It was a great presentation.

It got to be about 2:30 p.m. and after a hot and sticky day in Austin, I’d finally ran out of steam. I headed back to I-35 North and about 40 minutes later I was home.

A shower felt really good and dinner was awesome, but my hour-long nap was the topper.

 

 

Oh, Baby.

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Blurry goodness.

After falling head over heels with shots Heather Champ made using the original Lensbaby way back in 2004, I had to add this unique little lens to my kit. I still have my original, plus the 2, and the Control Freak.

But over the past five years or so I’ve been using the Composer Pro, in MFT and K mount versions, with the Sweet 35 Optic. It’s a great little combo. The locking swivel barrel, the aperture ring, and focus brought all of the goodness of the simpler, earlier versions but allowed for greater control overall.

There’s something magical about the images this combo makes, and I’ve felt comfortable shooting pretty much any subject.

Here are a few recent samples and some shots from years past.