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.

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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.

Walkin’ with the G-town crew.

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A stroll around Pioneer Farms.

I had a great time today participating in a PhotowalksGTX adventure at Pioneer Farms in North Austin. David Valdez lead the Georgetown crew and for as hot as it was, we were 10 strong for this outing. There were even a few folks from the PhotowalksATX crowd in attendance.

Pioneer Farms is really pretty cool. There are six themed historic areas open to self-guided walking tours and in between the heat of the morning sun we were able to take momentary and inspirational refuge in historical buildings and shady wooded areas along the trail that cuts through some 90 acres. A lot of good picture making!

We shared the trail with other groups, young families, and a few older folk, as well.

I got to see a Longhorn up close today, another Texas first. 8^)

There was so much to see and photograph and conversation is always easy with folks interested in photography. I enjoyed this particular photowalk quite a bit.

A hat-tip to David for having a cooler filled with ice-cold bottled water waiting for us at the end of the walk. Quite refreshing and oh so welcome!

Back-up Strategy.

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Avoiding a lose-lose situation.

When it comes to photography, I like taking pictures first, processing pictures second, and doing back-ups last. Well, that’s not entirely true… hunting for new gear is probably pretty high on my list of photographic priorities.

So, yeah, one of my least favorite parts of photography is doing back-ups. And I’m a tightwad, and I really don’t want to spend a bunch of money on annual cloud storage subscriptions. Instead I’ve invested in a series of external hard drives for mirroring my back-up system.

I also have a disaster recovery system in place with 3 bare hard drives that involves moving 2 off site on a quarterly basis.

The main part of the scheme is how I organize the files.

I create a separate folder for each batch of photos based on camera and date. Each batch folder contains 4 subfolders, one for the original files, another folder for processed files, one for images sized for web use, and one for images sized for web use that are watermarked.

As I mentioned above, the top level folder is named using date and camera, and to make the folders easy to sort numerically I start with the year, then the month, then the day, with a dot between. Like so > 2017.06.04

The camera used, again separated by a dot, follows > 2017.06.04.lx100

The four folders within this main folder are named originals, processed, sized, and branded.

The original files I leave untouched.

The processed files have been opened in Photoshop, tweaked to taste, then titled.

The sized files are knocked down to 72 ppi and roughly 900 to 1200 pixels in width, depending on orientation.

The branded images are just sized files with an added watermark, placed 20 pixels from the bottom of the image and centered.

file structure

At least once a month I copy files to the other hard drives. Once a quarter I swap the off-site drives.

I also do complete card dumps on 5 external hard drives. I often go back and look through those archives to see if I missed any gems, like the Fucshia at the top of this post, originally posted in July of 2006. It’s one of my most popular shots on Flickr and a shot that I initially passed on, only to go back a few weeks later and rediscover. You never know what gems you may have overlooked.

Taking flight.

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Discoveries.

From around 10 years ago, found while sifting through the archives.

I don’t always see the good in an image ’til later. In this case, much later.

I love how the eye is lead from bottom to top, in a clockwise semi-circle, with the last flower barely visible in the blown-out background.

It’s like the little blossoms are lining up for take off.

Shooting people.

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Have a seat, please.

The night before, I’d attended a talk by George Brainard. George is an Austin, TX portrait photographer who, among other things, spoke about seeking to connect with his subjects, develop trust, hopefully allowing them to reveal their true selves. When you look at the shots in his book it’s clear he succeeds with this strategy.

I’ve taken plenty of portraits over the years, but I was inspired to make as many TtV portraits as I could at the Lonestar Round Up on the Friday following that talk.

And, I tried something new with portraiture this time around. I’d been planning on experimenting with this particular notion for a while. When I make TtV portraits at car shows the shots mostly have an upward angle to them because the subject is standing and my TtV rig is at waist level, and if I get close enough, the resulting picture includes a pretty good view up my subject’s nostrils. Not always pretty!

Not long ago I purchased an inexpensive Coleman folding camp stool from Amazon. It’s very light, but sturdy, and it’s just the right height for folks to sit on while I get the shot.

An added bonus is I can sit on the thing to get low angle shots of any subject and not have the hassle of dealing with my achy knees. All that crazy skateboarding in the 70s trashed my hips, too. I’m really starting to feel it in my old age.

So each time I approached my subject, I had to pretty much explain what I was up to. The TtV. The angle of attack on their nose hairs. And where the chair comes in. To my surprise, only one person declined to have their portrait made.

Sure, it adds one more thing to carry, but I’m really happy with the results. I’m even thinking about getting that little stool’s legs pinstriped! 8^)

Oh, yeah… I also made a few hot rod shots while I was at it. Kinda’ hard not to!