I thought it might rain during my afternoon run but I went anyway. As you can see, no problems with social distancing....
I thought it would be a good afternoon for a run so I grabbed a small and lightweight camera, my rain jacket and my running shoes and headed down to Lady Bird Lake to hit the hike and bike trails. Dr. Fauci would be so proud of me because I wore my homemade face mask for the entire run. It hung in there well.
I stopped a couple of times near the beginning of the run to take some still photos which I intend to turn into masterpieces later but the few threatening rain drops decided to up the ante and, with a little help from a vicious north wind, the rain became a full bore downpour. Torrents and torrents of rain deftly guided by vicious wind gusts. The temperature dropped about 25 degrees over the course of a 45 minute run.
Even though the Sigma fp camera and the Panasonic 24-105mm lens are supposed to be "weather resistant" at a certain point I chickened out of this "trial by fire" (or should it be trial by immersion?) and tucked the camera and lens inside my rain jacket. The last half of the run was uncomfortably fun.
My shoes and socks were soaked, the bottom half of my shorts were soaked and I was starting to get concerned about lightning. So I stopped for a few minutes under the famous and well documented pedestrian bridge and then I remembered that the Sigma fp does video. Lots and lots of video, so I took a few minutes to catch my breath and shoot some footage of the Biblical style rain.
It wasn't my best time for a four mile run but I don't usually have a camera under my jacket either.
The camera and lens are both fine and ready for the next adventure. Me? I'll have to let everything dry out first.
As you can probably see from the footage there is little chance anyone played fast and loose with social distancing out there this afternoon. There were only three other people on the entire four mile loop. Everyone else seems to believe that you can't go outside in a cold rain. They just don't know what they are missing....
I was sitting at home reading novels. Now I'm getting back in touch with clients and planning for a time when we all re-open and re-engage. We should understand the power of pre-planning and intention.
Blue skies will return. Keep the sunscreen handy.
We all tend to operate under our own unproven set of assumptions. My assumption lately was that all business is shut down and people were hunkered down for the long haul. Like one of the apocalyptic movies about nuclear war I thought we'd start to emerge from our bunkers months from now, blinking at the sun and defeated by a vision of a landscape laid to waste.
Imagine my surprise when I started getting texts and e-mails this week from clients who are already planning ahead for the recovery. One group of attorneys is ready to (tele) conference immediately about tasking me to write and produce a series of videos for their firm. Another company queried me about making exterior photographs of big infrastructure projects around Texas. Places I could get to and back from in one day of driving, and photographing without having to interface with people. Just landscapes and construction infrastructure. Another client is a post graduate institution that wants to get a head start on a projected, August video program.
This input inspired me to get off my ass and try to stay focused on the parts of the business I could be working on right now. Building a better and more complex presence on LinkedIn and Instagram, planning my own marketing strategies and building advertising collateral I can put into place when the timing seems appropriate. Re-envisioning my portfolio. Rebuilding my website.
When we emerge from our cocoons and once again become shimmering Chrysalis it will be a new business environment and much will need to be done. It's becoming obvious to me how much more important all types of video production will be: from fun, quick piece on social media to full on television commercials and much in between. The period of stasis right now is an opportunity for us to find our own niches, to figure out stories to tell and how to tell them.
As a photographer the one thing I keep thinking about is all the cancelled gallery shows. I regret now that I didn't do more personal project work and show it to the public in the days B.C. (Before Covid). I'm enthusiastic right now about getting a new show of prints together and shopping it around (online) to Austin and Texas galleries. I have a vision in my head of standing around with a bunch of other photographers. We'd all have those flimsy, plastic glasses of box wine in our hands and we'd be talking about nonsense like printers and our favorite lenses.
I don't know which clients will be left when this whole thing subsides but I know I'd like to work for the ones who had deep enough pockets to survive. My intention is to use some of their $$ to finance a bunch of pro bono work for great non-profits that are really, really taking it on the chin right now.
I'll volunteer, certainly, but it might also be nice to write a few checks. Sometimes keeping the lights on takes precedence over having nice photographs.
It all starts with intention. If your intention is to retire or move into another career then that's great. But if your intention is to remain as a viable part of the commercial photography community then you need to firm up that intention and start making plans now for how your business will look when we all reconnect with the clients who will need us. It's never too early to plan and it's never too late to turn off Netflix for a while and get some work done. There are few among us whose businesses couldn't be made better with a sharp focus on what's next.
Yes, all of this came out of a conversation with my spouse who reminded me that even though we are social distancing I still have to clean my bathroom. And she mentioned that it might also be a good time to clean the leaves out of the gutters. What I interpreted from hearing this growing list is that this would be a good time to rush into the office and at least try to look busy.... or at least write a blog that makes me sound like I've already got plenty of stuff to tackle.
Now, how to handle the idea that the living room needs painted?
Mr. Andreas Schultz. Introduction Video. from Kirk Tuck on Vimeo.
The above is a video I did as a solo operator as an introduction for the north American CEO of Ottobock at a leadership conference. I shot most of it with a Panasonic GH5 and a selection of image stabilized lenses but I also used a Nikon D810 for a few segments. We did the V.O. in a little glass meeting room but I'm particularly happy with the way the audio came through in spite of the ad hoc "sound studio". I edited everything together in Final Cut Pro X. It was fun to have nearly complete control over every aspect of the video. The script was provided by the client's in-house writers.
Marty Robinson, Clinician. Discusses the Ottobock C-Leg. from Kirk Tuck on Vimeo.
And here's is a quiet video that I don't think I've shown before but I really like. I shot it just outside of Toronto with the assistance of a great guy named, Abraham Latchin. This video was shot with a Sony A7Rii and a Sony RX10iii. We used an Aputure Diety shotgun microphone just out of frame and I personally like the audio from a mic used like that much better than the less dynamic sound of a lavaliere microphone.
Just wanted to show some of the projects I've worked on recently and show you how photography can help one move into video production.
Kindest regards to everyone, Kirk
A very quick video about a DIY face mask solution. For people for whom manufactured masks are not currently available. NOT for Medical Professionals.
An Alternative to the traditional face mask. A PSA. from Kirk Tuck on Vimeo.
So, I've done some research and it's pretty apparent now that everyone in north America (and probably everywhere else for right now) should be wearing a face mask every time they go out of their home. Not just sick people or people caring for sick people, but everyone.
In Laredo, Texas face masks are required by law!!! Go Laredo!!!
At any rate, I won't go on and on about "why" but I did want to make and show you a very short and low tech video about my current solution ---- until such a time as I can buy a ready made mask or two...
We'll all look like banditos for a while but then that could be pretty cool.
If you want to see the video bigger and better you can click through and watch it on the Vimeo site.
I'm not selling anything and this should not be construed as professional, medical advice. I'm just sharing my stop gap solution to an ongoing potential problem.
The stretchy things I'm using are made by a company called, Buff, and they are also sometimes sold under the "National Geographic" label. I buy them over at REI. If you have a sewing machine a a bit of stretchy cloth you could probably make one at home in about five minutes. If I tried to sew one by hand it could take five days.
That's all. I'm just excited to have a reason to use my video stuff. Stay safe.
Be kind and generous and maybe someone will be equally nice to you.
Note: This post got posted a couple hours after my "more interesting and less serious" post of the day about buying Leica's. If you missed it please go back and check it out. I worked on it just for YOU.
Why, with all the other cameras in the world, am I still interested in getting an obsolete Leica SL? Maybe that's a question better directed to my analyst...
Sigma fp + 45mm.
One of our readers asked if I would explain my renewed interest in acquiring a Leica SL camera body. I think that delving into the psychology behind my desire for any particular camera might devolve into a long and boring mining operation into my anxious neuroticism but I think what he was really looking for would be my rationales for spending money on an older camera that I demonstrably don't need. That might be closer to the mark.
Okay. I'll leap at the bait.
First, I think I'm starting to feel that 2020 is the year I'll cure my overwhelming desire to change cameras and camera systems frequently. With no ongoing client work there's nothing pushing the button in the back of my brain which gears up the internal propaganda pushing me to keep up with the industry or to find that one camera that makes super special files. I'm coming around to the idea that it's never going to make a profound difference on the quality or type of images I create. Although Annie Leibovitz confesses in her book about making images that she often goes through 4 or 5 different digital cameras in a year, looking for the one that works best...for her.
I know you guys have been telling me that the camera doesn't matter for years but I'm constantly under the influence of my own confirmation bias. A good example would be my long tenure with the old Kodak DCS 760C camera. If you looked at this camera rationally, even a decade or more ago, you would no doubt see that it was big, ponderous and slow. It was a Frankenstein build that combined a Nikon F5 body with a huge amount of Kodak digital tech attached to the cast iron bottom. It was an outsized idea of what a pro might want or need in a digital body; right down to the full size firewire socket and the dual PC/MCIA slots.
But the LCD on the back was... challenging... and the battery life was abysmal. If I ever got more than 100 shots per battery I would have been shocked. But, back then there were only a tiny handful of options for cameras capable of shooting raw files in a high bit depth at 6 megapixels. And most had some similar matrix of obstacles to use.
But!!! I used that camera to shoot a campaign for the Austin Lyric Opera and the images were great. Of course I was really, really into my lighting then and worked hard on getting it just right. Then, I was using the Nikon 105mm f2.0 defocus coupling lens then and it had a wonderful look. I lit the set with thousand watt tungsten fixtures (the main light through a 6x6 foot silk) and I worked from a tripod so I was able to work at the camera's only optimal ISO = 80. The images came out so well. We won Addy Awards for the whole campaign and that triggered, in my brain, the idea that the camera brought some of the magic to the shoot and therefore I could not abandon it entirely for years....
Here is the five pound package that the DCS 760 in shooting form weighed.
On of my favorite images of (a younger) Ben after swim practice.
Shot with the DCS 760 and the Nikon 50mm f1.2.
From the Austin Lyric Opera project.
From the Austin Lyric Opera project.
From the Austin Lyric Opera project.
So, that, in a nutshell, is how my brain works. I get a camera and incorporate it into a really fun and creative project that features a fun location, a great lighting design, and good casting and then I end up giving 99% of the credit to whatever "magic" camera I happen to have attached to a unique and exciting lens.
When I say it like that it makes no sense at all. But when I have supreme confidence in a camera then I am more confident in my photographic abilities. It all comes down to confirmation bias. A self-fulfilling prophecy. I might have been able to do just as nice a job with other gear but this, the shoot just completed, is finished proof that the gear in question can deliver.
Here are three more samples from a shoot done with the Kodak nearly a year later for one of my favorite ad agencies:
The real reason I have fond memories about the Kodak camera is that its useful life in my studio corresponded with a time in which many fun projects were coming in week after week along with budgets that would amaze photographers who might have started their careers after the 2008-2009 recession. In my memory the great camera, the wonderful assistant and the amazing business and art opportunities that were offered to me in that time frame all blended together and one would have been foolish to try to dissect the success and change big parts. Falls under leaving well enough alone.
The above is all an attempt to explain why I approach camera purchasing and use from a less than rational point of view. Why my judgement is clouded by an emotional attachment to gear that was used in the process of making images that I liked. And in that time period one day of shooting would completely pay for one camera.
There is a second mental disconnect that is in play here as well. That is the logical of contrarian wisdom (or self-delusion). When I see work by photographers using very popular cameras (think Canon 5Dmk2, Nikon D800, Sony A7xx) I start to associate their work with those cameras and the thought of being "one of the club" pushes me to find cameras with different personalities and different looks to their files to use for my work, mostly as a way to differentiate myself from what I perceive to be the mainstream. It's a failure of logic, to be sure, since we can more or less replicate the "look" of most cameras with some work in PhotoShop.
But it reminds me so strongly of a time in film photography when I eschewed the saturated and similar color palettes of Kodak and Fuji film and embraced the much different color palettes and saturation characteristics of various Agfachrome and Agfacolor films. Agfacolor Portrait was very much a favorite of mine because its look was so different from that of film from the two leading film makers. Much closer to the look now preferred by so many modern cinematographers and, at the time, a conscious rejection of the hyper-color look of so much 1990s photographic work.
This contrarianism is also a symptom of someone who wants to show off the power of their own vision and their own operational capabilities without a reliance on the technical support of the most highly specified cameras of the day. How else to explain my embrace of the m4:3 format (most recently in my work with the Panasonic G9) while so many other photographers raced to squeeze every ounce of quality out the burgeoning selection of newly available full frame cameras?
I pushed that disconnect between camera technology and individual photographic point of view even harder when I insisted, at least for a while, on using one inch sensor cameras like the Sony RX10 series or the Panasonic FZ-2500 to complete big swaths of my commercial photographic work recently. But, in fact, the lesson learned is that the camera can be as transparent as the artist wills it to be....or as opaque.
So, all of that is a preface to explain my (now waning) desire to acquire and work with a Leica SL camera.
Let's start at the end first: The camera is not a fast focusing machine and depends entirely on its contrast detect AF to focus big and ponderous lenses filled with lots of heavy glass elements. In a way it is set up for focus remorse. Especially among those recently arrived photography adherents who expect every current camera to focus on fast moving objects without a hitch. If one considers this camera as an "all around" commercial user camera that can handle press events, portraits, products and fast moving sports you'd probably only be in the ball park for two out of the four uses = portraits and products.
But the mechanical capabilities of the Leica SL camera don't have much part in driving my curiosity and interest in the camera. I think I'm getting ahead of myself so let me back up a second and lay out just what the camera is:
The Leica SL, introduced four years ago, was the first full frame Leica mirrorless (excluding M series cameras) that used the L-Mount and was designed to bring Leica style imaging to the market. It featured a full frame, 24 megapixel sensor, a unique exterior button interface and a different approach to the menu/user interface. Priced originally at $7495 without a lens it was definitely a luxury purchase for most photographers. At the time it included the highest resolution EVF on the market and a nice range of video specifications, including a deep 4K capability. The SL had twin SD card slots which were both UHS-II capable and a body mostly carved out of a block of aluminum alloy. So, well built, well spec'd and, to me, a beautiful example of industrial design.
The sensor, the manufacturer of which has not been disclosed, seems to be designed with a different compromise than the 24 megapixel sensors from Sony (at the time). My perception of sensors in that time frame is that there was a compromise to be made in which designers could choose either the lowest noise at high ISOs or a much more complex and differentiated color response, but not both! Sony chose low noise because that parameter is easier for consumers to see; easier to show off. Leica chose to optimize color, making more complex and nuanced color differentiation because that would appeal to more experienced photographers who might represent a higher income demographic than photographers who would not spend $7K+ on a camera.
While both sides of the compromise have implications for users I shouldn't belabor the differences in approach too much because they make somewhat subtle differences between the two philosophies in actual practice. I will say that I think we have ample tools to control noise in post production but that once color differentiation/discrimination is compromised in capture we don't have equivalent tools to re-capture baked out color in post...
If you understand the way my thinking works, based on the explanation I gave above it should be clear to you that the camera appeals to me on the basis of some theoretical constructs and by dint of its contrarianism more than any measurable parameter.
Here's what appeals: Even though Leica is a luxury maker there is still value in the engineering and design they put into this camera --- to say nothing of the superior quality of materials used. You are, in essence, at today's used prices, getting a $7,000 camera for the current 9+ grade used price of around $2200. Even if you believe there is an enormous "luxury tax" connected with all Leica goods you could say you are getting a $4,000 camera for half price.
Next, each camera maker has their own ideas about color. How saturated a file should be. What kind of color palette each system will put forward. How much fine difference between color shades should a camera be able to define. And then their are other imaging choices, baked in, that make a difference in the way we see and appreciate files. How much processing will be devoted to careful noise reduction? Not just overall noise reduction but also noise reduction in areas of large and small detail. And noise reduction in various color channels. To my mind the files I've seen from Leica digital products always hedge towards accuracy over impact. For convincing sharpness over absolute absence of noise. And these decisions seem to align with the way I feel cameras should interpret and present scenes to me.
Four years ago the idea of spending $2200 for a four year old, used Leica would have been ridiculous. At that time there was no L-mount alliance. No opportunity to buy less expensive lenses from Sigma and Panasonic. But today we have a wide choice of great lenses to use on the L-mount cameras. Where I would have had to spend upwards of $5000 for a 50mm lens from Leica to use on the SL in 2016 I now have the choice of: the 50mm f1.4 Lumix lens (certified by Leica for performance), the 50mm f1.4 Sigma Art lens, and, if I can fudge the focal lengths just a little bit, also the $550 Sigma 45mm f2.8 Contemporary lens.
Since I own eight or nine different lenses, all very, very good, that will fit and work well with the SL I needn't make any huge financial sacrifice if I want to test the camera and see for myself whether the differences in color and overall rendering really create $2200 worth of value to me.
I was all gung-ho about getting a used Leica SL a couple of weeks ago but the more I think about it the more I come to believe that Panasonic and Leica (and to a degree, Sigma) are much closer to each other in the way their cameras make images look and further away from how Sony, Canon and Nikon make their images look. I'm almost at the point of believing that the Lumix S1 is a more modern re-imagining of the SL but with more capabilities. Since the market for commercial photographers is slowly grinding to a full stop right now the rationale of using the SL as a powerful differentiator for client work has all but evaporated.
I'll keep watching the prices. The Leica Index for SL used cameras is dropping week by week. When I first started looking a clean, 9+ body was trading for $2895. Last week that dropped to $2595 and this week it dropped to $2395. Decent bodies (8,8+) can be had for $1995 now signaling that an important floor price has been busted through. I'll keep checking back to see when and if I can source a 9+ body in a box for less than $2,000. That will be the point at which the pain of purchase might be less than the ping of desire pushing me to try out something new. And different.
And that, in a nutshell, is how I go through the dreaded process of rationalization. Fertile material for the friendly neighborhood analyst, for sure.
A productive and uplifting walk through Austin with a Sigma fp camera and the cute, little 45mm f2.8 lens. Oh yeah....and a polarizing filter.
It's been a fun day for me. I heard from an institutional client who wanted to know if I could bid on a television spot scheduled (tentatively; always tentatively) for August. After that I got a call from a law practice/firm I've worked with asking if I would be interested in making a couple of "tasteful" (non-ambulance chasing) TV commercials for them. The attorneys will be ready to go as soon as we work out how to proceed while under the restrictions of the pandemic.
I spent the early afternoon finishing up the retouching of images for another law firm. And billing! I'm so thrilled to still be billing...
But once I'd gotten through the retouching I'd had enough office time and had spent enough time in the proximity of conduits to the endless news cycle so I got up, grabbed a camera and a homemade face mask and headed out for one of my legendary walks with photographs in mind. The camera of choice today was the little Sigma fp, and it did feel little after my recent amble with the Lumix S1 and the Sigma 20mm f1.4 art lens. Knowing we'd have bright sun through the afternoon I looked around the equipment drawer and found a 55mm circular polarizing filter. Funny trivia = it was a Minolta brand filter. That certainly dates it.
I had a certain route I wanted to take because I'd seen some video that showed some cool graffiti on the plywood covering the storefronts on Sixth St. And I'm a sucker for good graffiti. Please keep in mind that in all but a few areas of the country which are in complete lockdown, we in Austin are allowed; no, encouraged, to walk for exercise, as long as we're careful about distancing ourselves from others!
As usual, I parked in the lot adjacent to the Zach Theatre (no other cars in the entire lot) and walked across the pedestrian bridge. It's this part of most walks where I spend time "dialing in" the feel and settings of the camera. I capriciously decided that today was an ISO 250 day and that we'd go fully manual for a change. Well, fully manual exposure but I still used the autofocus because it works so well on sunny days.
There were a ton of people out on the bridge and on the hike and bike trails but everyone was doing an amazing job of skirting around other people, maintaining that six to ten foot distance, and being attentive to their surroundings. Many more face masks today. Once off the bridge and the trail, and fully into downtown, the foot traffic dropped to nearly zero. I still kept up an eye-roving surveillance; my "head on a swivel" as they say in the action/adventure spy novels.
The thing that impresses me most (after the small size and weight) about the Sigma fp and the 45mm lens is the amazing amount of detail in the finished files. It's quite different in its nature than the look of apparent sharpness one gets from other brands. This camera does an especially good blend of super-high resolution coupled with great acutance. It helps that my use of the camera in full sun is generally predicated on using f5.6 and f8.0; f-stops at which this particular lens excels. (Please click on the images on a big, fat 5K monitor to really see what I'm talking about. But when you do please remember that these files are only 2100 pixels on the long dimension....).
The view to the east of the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge.
If there is sunshine there will be kayaks and paddle boards...
The lens tends to compress space but I used a laser "measuring tape" to ensure that the
two men on the bench were at least two meters apart. They did think me
quite odd.... But then so do my friends.
I thought I'd remark in passing that the image just above was originally overexposed by over a stop.
I pulled the exposure down in post. There was no clipping to be seen in the highlights.
I think I can get away with a +1 overexposure from time to time with no penalty1
Promotional posters for Red Ash Italian Restaurant on 3rd St.
While I was looking forward to seeing the graffiti on Sixth St. my new path took my by a high rise on Third St. that has a nice Italian restaurant on the bottom floor. The graphics in the window caught me by surprise and I actually laughed out loud when I saw these three posters.
All of them are a take off of World War Two posters but these are aimed at getting loyal customers to future-support this restaurant by selling gift cards to be used when the establishment re-opens. As I read the fine print I see that they are offering a one hundred dollar gift card for $60. A good deal...if they make it through the fallow times. See the two below.
It's a brilliant campaign, it's kind of tragic that there is so little foot traffic to see it...
I applaud their marketing team for some fun work1
It seems the local bars (see just below) are getting into the to-go business. The governor of Texas lifted restrictions on selling alcohol off the restaurant premises and now just about every restaurant and bar is rushing to sell and have delivered: food+alcohol, food, alcohol and drink mixing kits. Not sure why people can't just use a Mr. Boston's bartender's guide along with a quick trip to the local liquor stores (which the governor has included in the list of essential businesses which are allowed to stay open during the crisis. I guess you could use the Tito's vodka to sterilize stuff while pickling your brain cells).
With all the downtown professionals and their entourages working from
home all of the food trailers are locked up tight. No customers, no business.
But this image above and the ones just below are the one's I wanted to see. They were my primary destination for today's walk. The street looked so bare the first week after the storefronts on our most popular and densely packed bar district were covered with particle board and plywood. The same people that sponsored the Graffiti Wall got permission to invite artists to decorate the "crisis covers."
At some point, if the "Stay Home, Stay Safe" restrictions last long enough, I look forward to seeing street art on every square inch of plywood and particle board on the 200 establishments bordering our famous hospitality district. It should be interesting in its own right.
It will be a sad and happy day when the boards are peeled off and the businesses re-open.
That will mean Austin is back in business but it will also mean that the art will go away.
As I'm sure you guessed, I will be back again and again to document it all.
Since downtown is totally bereft of both working people and tourists an unintended consequence of the "stay home" ethos is a radical thinning of the crowd of homeless people who just weeks ago thrived in the area. Except for the hardiest most have looked for greener pastures or fled to the shelters; mostly driven, I suspect, by hunger. Makes the sign must above seem superfluous, yes?
After my jaunt through downtown I headed West on the Lady Bird Johnson Hike and Bike Trail happier than ever with my little Sigma fp. It just oozes personality and a solid, ingratiating grace. Here's the refrain you've probably read many times before: I might just have to find another one....
To update: I went to Trader Joe's grocery store today, wearing my homemade face mask and clutching my small bottle of hand sanitizer. I shared the store with fewer than 30 people (they are rationing access). I followed all the rules and, upon returning home, sat out front of the house wiping down the bottles, cans and containers with alcohol and wipes. I disposed of the bag and then re-sanitized my hands before bringing my stuff into the house.
With great joy I must announce that there will be fresh baked Almond Croissants on Saturday morning.
My sanitizing protocol was approved by my keen and strict supervisor and house mate. We have gone 17 days with perfect social distancing and have spent 90% of that time isolated from everyone outside our tiny familial sphere (two). I think we're doing okay but I'm equally sure that, at some point, it's all the luck of the draw. We're just trying to play the long odds. If we do get sick we want to put if off as long as possible in the hopes that the protocols will be in place to generate decidedly better outcomes across the board when it comes to treatment.
On an off topic note:
Michael Johnston gave us a movie review on TheOnlinePhotographer today. I feel compelled to "keep up with the Joneses" so here is my (much shorter) review of my movie viewing from last night:
We saw the most recent Star Wars movie on Amazon Prime last night. It was action packed and entertaining. But overall George Lucas's reputation for directing has nothing to worry about. JJ Abrams threw everything in his directorial playbook at the latest movie in the franchise. Barely crested the Jar Jar Binks bar for good story telling. But again....entertaining. The popcorn was great.
Hope everyone is well. Maybe tomorrow I'll write about coming to grips with my fascination concerning the old, used Leica SLs. But maybe not. Maybe I'll just shrug my shoulders and get another fp. I know those are great.
We got up late and it was still just 55 degrees outside. We went for a walk together and the sun was nestled into one of the clearest blue skies I've seen. As we left our house we looked up at our little forest of giant live oak trees and marveled at how healthy they look right now. They'd been a bit leaf-sparse and wane in the Fall and we had them deep fertilized. They appreciated our efforts and are rewarding us with a lush green canopy.
As we walked through our neighborhood we talked about the news of the day. Things will get worse. Then they will get better. Hope is more pleasant than despair. Everyone in our families is healthy for now. We hope it stays that way. It's true that I can't swim right now; I would but the pools are all closed. But I also love walking and so I walk for an hour with Belinda in the mornings and I take a longer and brisker walk later in the day. Videos about swimming technique help remind me of what I need to work on, technique-wise, when the pools re-open.
We've lived through recessions many times with little but residual fumes in our bank accounts but this time around we're coming off a prosperous year and many profitable assignments. I'm still wrapping up a few projects. We can coast for a while. No panicking in 2020...
Austinites, in general, seems to be hewing to the new rules about social distancing and community safety. We're not a big hot spot yet. I hope we, as a community, continue to work on our efforts to stay safe. We'll have streamlined coffee to-go practices in no time...
I worked on my home coffee techniques yesterday and I made a perfect cup of coffee today. Absolutely perfect. I think I've got a winning formula figured out which dulls my ardor for coffee from the outside. I miss seeing familiar faces and hearing the steam release from the espresso machines.
We've been eating well. Last night it was fresh trout with a lemon caper sauce, roasted cauliflower and mashed sweet potatoes. We're stocked up with groceries and produce for at least the next week and a half.
We're staying entertained. I love writing the blog. We both love reading novels, and last night I splurged and paid Amazon for a rental on the latest Star Wars movie, which we missed at the theaters. So, $6 bucks for an evening of entertainment. We even made popcorn. And, happily, no teen agers texting in the rows in front of us...
I seem to have lost my insistent desire for a constant flow of new cameras. I'm saving thousands of dollars at a whack. I've deduced that part of my ability to rationalize even the most extravagant investments in cameras was based partly on the idea that I needed this or that new camera so I could deliver the latest expert results to my clients. I could justify the expense in the moment with the promise that each new piece would help leverage my skills into more profitable engagements.
When all clients go away so does that rationale. Now I seem happy to shoot for days and weeks with the same small collection of really good cameras. So far I'm even resisting the lure of the Leica song.
While prices on used Leica SL camera bodies drop so has my interest. Will it resume when our confinement is over? Let's find out!
I stay in touch with you on this blog. I stay in touch with other friends via texts and phone calls. I stay in touch with Belinda by walking into the house and checking in. I do miss Studio Dog. She would have loved having us both home for 23 hours a day....
Funny, when we were constantly busy we complained about not having the time to slow down, relax and do the projects we thought we always wanted to do for ourselves. When we were busy making money we groused about not having time to travel. And now fate is making us come to grips with what is really important to us. It's not the hobbies so much, and it's not the travel. The most wonderful thing, and the thing we miss most, is sharing time with family and friends. Big dinners together. Fun happy hours. Meeting for coffee and breakfast tacos. But we'll try our best to make up for that in the near future.
In times when all the news is bad and we can't have a fix or solution to fall back on it's a good practice to take time to savor the stuff we really love about life and to do a little inventory about everything that brings us joy.
I never realized how much I took my house for granted. But it's so comfortable and inviting. I can spend hours in a big, upholstered chair in a corner, just reading a book. Occasionally closing my eyes and just feeling how great it is to breathe. Our house is situated on a big, half acre lot and our neighbors to every side are distant and blocked by trees and landscaping. Even this close to downtown it's serene and quiet on the back porch. That's where I like to eat my Greek Yogurt mixed with berries and muesli. It's almost become a ritual. If I'm lucky I see hawks spiraling around up above and there's a black squirrel in the yard that used to taunt Studio Dog. He comes as close as he can to where I'm sitting, almost daring me to chase him.
It's enough in the quiet moments to remember just how lucky we have been...
I am happy that it is still legal to walk around with a camera; as long as we follow the
social distancing rules.
Trader Joe's grocery store has frozen croissant which you have to allow to rise and then bake.
They are delicious. I keep a box in the freezer, next to the box of Lava Cakes.
There is something absolutely luxurious about going to bed as late as you want
and sleeping in or lounging around in bed until you get bored....
Over the years I'd gotten into the habit of taking my showers at the pool.
I'd forgotten how comfortable and well appointed my bathroom is at home.
I now relish a hot shower after my walks but before dinner.
If we lose electrical power and the internet I've cleverly kept a Nikon F and a brick of Tri-X on hand so I don't miss the opportunity to document the moments.
Austin gets more and more beautiful the fewer cars there are on the roads.
Some day soon swimming will NOT be dangerous.
(the sign above was from Iceland. You'd have to be crazy to swim in the
33 degree bay....)
I'm fortunate to have experienced the Spanish Steps in Rome before sitting on them became a crime.
I will go back to Italy as soon as it is safe and will spend as much money as I can eating well
and helping our Italian friends rebuild their tourist economy.
We haven't had this much free time for our art since we were students in our 20s.
More time to linger with great photo books.
Deeper dives into the history of photography. From a certain point of view.
It's love that keeps hope alive. It's hope that keeps love alive.
Coffee in Canada tastes as good as it does in Austin.
I miss the museums so much...
Loving the his and hers Subarus.
Four wheel powered automotive delight.
Getting to know you. Getting to know all about you.....
Sorry to go off topic (photography) but I felt good about life today and wanted to share it.
Might be a fleeting gesture but I don't think so. We're looking forward to the future but not at the expense of the present....
Much happiness to everyone. KT