Not quite Spring.

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Felt like it, though.

I spent the first Saturday morning of February walking around Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin. Around 10 folks showed up for Simi’s PhotowalksATX gathering.

There were a few familiar faces – Greg, George, Ed, Ana – and a few folks I’d not met before – Justin, Derrick, Another Ed, Scott – and some folks whose names I did not get nor hear.

It was a beautiful Winter morning in the garden.

It was a beautiful Winter morning in the garden. A little chilly to start, but by the time folks were heading to lunch, it’d warmed up nicely.

It was my first visit to Zilker Gardens. Beautiful grounds. It has a lot of nice winding, gently sloped, paved paths, for ADA compliance I’m guessing, but there were also steps to use. Thoughtful.

I brought along the Sony RX100 III, my trusty Panasonic Lumix LX100, and it was my first outing with the Fujifilm XQ1.

There were a few paper whites popping out of the ground, and rose blossoms, pansies, and a few other flowers, but since it’s the dead of winter, mostly palms, ferns, and well, just a whole lot of green.

… it was my first outing with the Fujifilm XQ1.

Entrance into the gardens was $7 US for me, a senior, but that included parking. Not bad really.

There was a beautiful waterfall in one section of the gardens that I’m pretty sure everyone got a shot of… my picture was a little off-center, but it managed to catch a little cool lookin’ sun flare.

I was so busy focusing on getting into the gardens that I didn’t notice the front entrance gates, but the Rose Garden Gate on the north side of the property was something to behold. The only reference to the artist that I could find online was Lars Stanley and Louis Herrera.

Lunch was at Schlotsky’s on South Lamar. There weren’t as many folks as on the walk, but it was still a good crowd.

Simi’s photo strolls are always awesome.

Around the world.

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Well, kind of.

There’s always a story.

Back in mid-August I purchased one of the G3 Ondu 6×12 pinhole cameras.

I’d just missed the Kickstarter pre-order deadline, but the good folks at Ondu were kind enough to give the pre-launch price, even though it was my fault for letting the purchase linger in the shopping cart on their site. They actually reached out to me, which was nice.

The 6×12 arrived in around 3 weeks. It’s a beautiful piece of art.

About 3 days later, another box arrived. It was another 6×12. Not sure how that happened, but I reached out to them via email, telling them that I’d be happy to send it back if they covered shipping. They appreciated my honesty and gave me a mailing address. About a week later I finally got to the local post office and sent the package via mail.

I sent them a note with a picture of the receipt and Jessi at Ondu asked how to reimburse me. So cool.

I was waiting for word from them that the package had arrived, occasionally checking my PayPal account for evidence that it’d reached Slovenia.

Nothing.

Then right around Christmas the box I’d sent came back. For some unknown reason it was returned to me. So weird.

I waited a couple of weeks past the holiday to reach out via email to let them know what had happened, attaching a picture of the travel-worn package. I asked them in my note “I’m not sure what to do about this, folks. Any ideas?” and Elvis replied “… this camera just is meant to be yours. Lets not complicate things more.”

Now I have two Ondu 6×12 pinhole cameras.

Still deciding what I’ll do with it, keep it or gift it.

2019 Gallery

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Faves from the past year.

Among photographers, I’m sure this is not uncommon – at the end of each year, I take a look back at my body of work and pick out the photos I like most.

My choices may be due to a particular memory, maybe the composition, or the planning that went into a particular photo. It could be the happenstance, the color, or perhaps the light. Maybe it’s the mood or a good story.

For those reasons and more, this group of shots – and a few others – are my favorites for 2019 – please, take a peek at my year-end gallery.

 

Walking among the dead.

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Austin’s history under foot.

I met Kevin Thomas at Oakwood Cemetery in Austin last Sunday morning for a film stroll.

It’s a place I’ve been wanting to shoot since I saw Kat Swansey’s cemetery shots in her IG stream and her recommendation for a visit to Oakwood.

Foggy and a little chilly, it started clearing around noon. The drive down I-35 wasn’t bad at all.

I brought along the Yashica-Mat 66. I loaded a roll of Tri-X 400 in it the day before. Everything seemed pretty normal. Sunday I couldn’t get the film to advance properly. Hmmm.

Also on hand was my little Instax Mini 8, and I burned through two packs of Mono Chrome. Got a coupla’ keepers.

I thought I was prepared. Apparently not!

The Minolta XG-1/24mm ƒ2.8 + mystery roll, too.

I had the Sony RX100MIII in the bag, as well. Sadly, when I tried to use it, I discovered it had a dead battery.

So, I shot bunches with the iPhone 8 and Blackie App.

I thought I was prepared. Apparently not!

It was a good 2+ hour walk.

On my way back home I stopped at Austin Camera to pick up the negs/prints from the 4 rolls of C41 I left there last Saturday. Pretty cool to see what they contained. Around 20 keepers, plus I still have to scan the shots from the Sprocket Rocket.

Moody.

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Willie, too.

I made it down to Austin this morning for a stroll with the PhotowalksATX gang. Simi had us meet beneath the sculpture of Wille Nelson, outside the legendary Moody Theater of Austin City Limits fame – attending a show there is on my bucket list – and by 8:30 am we’d reached a quorum of 8.

Besides Simi, I knew Michael and RJ (that’s his Kodak Pony, above) from previous walks, plus Ed, who I know from NAPƒS, showed up. That was pretty cool. George, Ina, Sean, and Timothy were the new folks I got to meet this time around. (I hope I got their names right!)

We started out by walking over to West Cesar Chavez St., stopping to shoot around Austin City Hall.

After that, we slowly made our way west on Cesar Chavez until we reached the Austin Library. We made our way to the butterfly bridge, crossed it then inched our way eastward on 2nd till we ended back at Lavaca Street.

I… found myself shooting in B&W mode. And square. A lot.

I took the GX8 and X100s with me, but used the Panny mostly and found myself shooting in B&W mode. And square. A lot. That’s okay, though. I got a few decent shots.

It was pretty close to 11 a.m. by then, so everyone headed over to the downtown Whole Foods for lunch. We had a hell of a time finding enough chairs to seat all 8 of us around the larger of the two sizes of tables they had, but eventually everyone had a place to sit and we ate then talked for at least an hour.

Great fun. Simi is awesome. If you’re in the Austin area, you should give this once-a-month gathering a try.

I headed out a little after noon, driving up Lamar until a left on 45th then a right on Burnet Road got me closer to my last stop. I finally dropped off the 4 rolls of 35mm C41 at Austin Camera. It’ll all be ready for me to pick up next Sunday. Yay!

 

Practice makes perfect.

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Seeing makes pictures.

I attended last night’s NAPƒS meeting to hear Ted Keller talk about “The Value of Practice.” It was a good talk and his experience with teaching/training was apparent.

It struck me how many of his theories and methods I’ve unconsciously used in my years of playing with cameras.

I am not a classically train photographer. I learn (even to this day) by research, applied practice, and a whole lot of intuition.

I like to play. Experiment. I also spend a lot of time looking at the work of other photographers. I read about photography. I watch videos. I make a lot of pictures.

And that’s where my interest in photography starts… with the picture.

… I’m convinced that paying attention, being in the moment, and seeing is even more critical.

Sure, knowing how to use a camera is important, but I’m convinced that paying attention, being in the moment, and seeing is even more critical.

I’m more interested in the act of making a photograph than I am in the technical details of operating a camera. I find that using extremely simple film cameras – like the Agfa Click I or the Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim is a liberating experience.

See. Point. Shoot.

Modern cameras – in all their complexity – can be intimidating. And unforgiving. So Ted’s insistence that practice prepares one for being ready is absolutely true.

Just don’t forget to look around or you might miss the shot you were practicing to get.

One last thing… the member print exhibit. Patti Mitchell’s concert shots were stellar. To paraphrase Bill Bunton, “It’s easy to see why she consistently wins in the competition every month.”

Note: The last photo club meeting I attended was the second Monday back in September, the Round Rock Image Creators. I’ve only attended one Round Rock Photography Club meeting. Now that NAPƒS has split the competition to 1st Thursday and the Speaker to 3rd Thursday I’ll have to weigh which club gets my eyes and ears in 2020. Bummer.

Bom dia. Buenos días.

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Vámonos!

Torri n’me recently took a two-week tour of Portugal and Spain. We had great weather throughout the trip and everywhere we went the food was really good.

13 cities in 13 days. A whirlwind.

Lisbon. Sintra. Cascais. Evora. Merida. Seville. Jerez. Gibraltar. Marbella. Ronda. Granada. Toledo. Madrid.

13 cities in 13 days. A whirlwind.

It was jam-packed with all sorts of activities and city-by-city tours. We visited historic palaces, cathedrals, and synagogues. We saw Roman ruins, Muslim and Catholic architecture. Took a horse and carriage ride. We witnessed a Flamenco performance. We had a guided tour of an equestrian school. We even sampled Port and Sherry in two different cites.

My last-day favorite was a slow, lengthy stroll through the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, where art that I’d only seen in history books was right in front of me. Awesome.

I brought along three cameras – The Panny LX100, Olympus XZ-2, Sony RX100m3 – and my iPhone 8. Talk about an extended photo stroll!

We had a great time.

I put together an album on Flickr with all my fave shots. Take a peek…