Taking a break from a tough week to walk around Austin, get some exercise and work with an now obsolete camera and lens...

It was a tough week last week for personal reasons. I've been working non-stop for a while and I decided to take a couple of hours to get some exercise and fresh air with a walk through my favorite city, Austin, Texas. Had it been cloudy and gray I would have stayed at my desk and worked on stuff that has to get done. Because it was bright and clear and warm I decided to time shift the work till later this evening.

Kids Getting Ready to Jump into Lady Bird Lake from the Lamar Bridge.

In keeping with the spirit of not caring about perfection all the time I decided to take a favorite camera that's about to be obsoleted by a new model. I've been using a Sony a57 for about a year and I really like it. It's being replaced by a Sony a58 somewhere around the 20th of this month and, as any expert on the forums will tell you, the older model will stop working and start decomposing the minute the newer camera hits the market. As I've done some fun projects with the a57 I thought I'd take it out for spin. Given its creaky longevity in the market I thought it only fitting to equip it with an equally antiquated lens, the Sony 24-105mm.

New Condo Construction just north of the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge.

In the new spirit of capricious non-caring about technical stuff I set the camera to it's toy camera setting, adjusted it to "warmth", dialed in auto-exposure and headed to Barton Springs to celebrate Austin Spring in full flourish and then off to downtown.

Two Women Throwing Themselves From the Bridge.

The a57 and the small zoom lens hang gracefully from a Tamrac shoulder strap and have a graceful countenance that makes them pleasurable walking companions. They don't seem altogether serious and I've come to see that this is part of their charm.

White and Black Dog at the Barton Springs Spillway.

I made a conscious effort to approach the camera with the innocence and naiveté of a beginner. No twiddling of the dials and no adding a little "top spin" to the camera's decisions. It would succeed or fail on its own merit.

When you channel the mind of a beginner even your Avia track shoes are interesting.

Meanwhile, back at the spillway....

Shooting through the fence that divides the people who want to pay to swim and frolic at Barton Springs from those who just want to get wet.

Springs and ink.

The cyclists bring their dogs.

At this juncture it's in the low 90's and I've got my shoes off and I'm wading through the water with everyone else. I'm carrying my camera and lens and nothing else. No backpack. No camera bag. No water bottle or any of the other baggage that slows one down. My only concessions to uncertainty are an extra battery in my left pocket and a couple of hundred dollars in my right pocket. Not even a cellphone to intrude on my perambulations. 

Barton Springs Pool. Re-opened after six months of maintenance.

Looking across to the south shore.

The toy camera setting pumps up the colors and vignettes like all hell. Good, clean fun.

Narcissism rears its head once again...

I head across the pedestrian bridge going north. I'm heading toward the intersection of 2nd St. and downtown which, in my mind, is the center of the city. Everyone in Austin seems to be out running, cycling or walking but I know that's not exactly true because I see lots of people stuck in cars in traffic.

But no major traffic jams on this part of the lake.

I got to Jo's on 2nd too late for whatever party happened here... 

New stuff everywhere. No slow growth here. Just full speed ahead.

After an hour of walking I reach the far point of my journey and I take a seat at Caffe Medici for a classic cappuccino. I ask the barrista if he'd mind being photographed. "No Problem." Cool.

Leaving Caffe Medici I spy the makings of moving pictures. A classic interview in front of Congress Restaurant. Those video guys are snappy dressers...

Ahhh. The Austin Photographic Adventure Meet-up Crowd. A host (gaggle? flock? pride? coven?) of photographers waiting for two "models" to show up. They shoot as a group. Amazing. Not my style.

would it be a sunday walk without at least one image of the Frost Tower?

This is photographer, Stephen Elledge. He's shown standing next to his Crown Graphic 4x5 film camera. He uses it to make tintypes which he hopes will be a viable career undertaking. Good luck to Mr. Elledge. A fun rig and a fun idea.

edit 4/15: Here's a link to Stephen's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StephenElledgeMobileTinTypes

And here's a sample image he sent me: 
©2013 Stephen Elledge, All rights reserved. 

The models have shown up and the members of the Austin Photographic Adventure Meet-up Group jockey for position in the hopes that their images will be "unique."

The fun story this afternoon is one that I have no idea about. I was walking past the Austin Ballet headquarters when I noticed about eight white Chevy Tahoe SUVs with type on the side announcing, "Federal Protective Service. Police. Homeland Security. In each Tahoe, between the front seats, was an AR-16 or M-16 but there wasn't a uniformed or even un-uniformed agent anywhere in site. They also had this mondo big truck with big antennas sticking up. I took a bunch of photographs but no one ever came out and the drones didn't get me. I wonder what was going on. It was just a block from the federal courthouse........

 I headed back toward home with a quick stop at Whole Foods for a pint of Centennial IPA and then I retraced my steps. Another day wasted with a nearly obsolete camera and a substandard lens. Maybe I should have stayed home and watched sports on TV.
Oh well. Back to work.

Camera: Sony a57
Lens: Sony 24-105mm  3.5-4.5
Setting: Toy Camera...warm.
User input: none.


  1. Wow, there's a Wahoo's in Austin?! Love their onion rings (and enchiladas). That corner of Austin could pass for L.A.

    Now you've got me thinking about an A58. My "old" A55 is a bit small, and my older A700 has, get this, an optical viewfinder. What's up with that? And no live view, nor video ...

    BTW, I love this set. It reminds me of when folks took pictures with film and we outsourced the processing to Costco for prints (at least that's what some of us hobbyists did). Here you let Sony's "1-millisecond Photo" do all of the work, sort of like how it used to be! My favorite part of photography is usually the shutter click anyway. I'm not a big fan of moving sliders in Lightroom at 11pm.

  2. Great photo set! You covered much of the same territory as I did today. A few weeks ago, I met and had some dry plates made by Mr. Elledge. Interesting process.

  3. Lovely post with pictures :) It looks like there's very warm and sunny weather! Here in Finland we still have to wait for those warm summer days.

  4. just 2 points of order:

    1 - a 'pack' of 'gangtogs'

    2 - old model cameras have a programmed self-destruct mechanism to enable new model introduction. the new models don't work until the old model has disintegrated and then the firmware will get it's first update.

    a Funday, Kirk.

  5. I've been using the Toy Camera mode with the Sony RX100 for awhile now. Great fun, great results, no fuss.

    There are some very "healthy" young girls in Austin. Nice set.

  6. Want to see something reallllly scary?
    A photo meetup group!
    Never again.

    Enjoyed the post. There is nothing so relaxing
    as a walk in the park with a camera. Obsolete or not.

    cheers and beers

    1. It's an activity I just don't get. I think it's funny but I still don't get it. To each their own...

    2. Agree, different strokes for different folks. I'm usually a lone "walkabout" photographer. But, if you're shooting in an unfamiliar, perhaps "dangerous" spot, it's nice to have someone watching your back. Also, for a Sony/Minolta shooter like me, I'll go on a meetup to test out gear ... not a lot of us A- and E-mount folks out there!

  7. That late afternoon sunlight, the Toy setting on that obsolete camera, combined with your very funny narrative and captions made this post a very enjoyable 10 minutes of my morning today!

  8. Now you have me thinking about what to call a roving pack of photographers... and you reminded me of movie a while back that featured a photography/jogging group (jog for a bit, then take a photo, resume jogging). How about a "Click" of photographers (bad play on clique)?

    Enjoyable tour. Need to do it myself...

  9. Ugh that photo of the models and photographers makes me feel uneasy. Almost as if I feel awkward for the photographers.

  10. What a contrast to my Sunday. We woke up in our cottage beside a lake in Haliburton, Ontario (near Algonquin Park) to a fresh snowfall. The lake is still frozen and brave people were still going out in skidoos. We walked along the lake and I took pictures of birch bark hanging from trees and other exciting things. The snow had a crust on it that was just strong enough to support me most of the time. Occasionally, I would fall through and the snow would come up to my knee. We climbed up a hill and looked at the blue sky through the naked trees and wondered if spring would ever arrive.

  11. Looks like a great week of just getting out and shooting. Sometimes that is all that it takes to re-energize the soul. Love the portraits in the Cafe

  12. Awesome stuff and proving once again that getting out of the office is the only way to get real work done. And it leads me to suggest a topic for a future blog post: As you know, Austin is the only city left in the world with the moonlighting street illumination system. Could you please do the same walk, same camera but do it under the moonlights?

  13. As usual Kirk, my favorite blog that is a must read every day.

  14. Great post! Thanks for the hard work.

  15. Why all this added vignetting? Good pictures don't need post production gimmicks.

    1. Yeah. And who made you the gate-keeper of all good taste? Everything in these pics was done in camera. Not in post. I don't necessarily like vignetting but my 24-105 Sony lens sure does....


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