Yes. I did ask permission.
Austin no longer has a functioning downtown. We now have a mile square area with very tall buildings that is more like an "on call" amusement park for major corporations that want to throw cynical "consumer" events. Last week it was the X Games with a downtown exhibition (largely constructed just for the TV cameras) that took out blocks and blocks of Congress Ave. and assorted side streets so some painfully cool folks could ride skateboards up and down some ramps. Before that it was some craft festival. And then, of course, there are the two full weeks of snarled traffic for SXSW. And before that the Europeans, and misguided Americans, who like Formula One car racing (we actually moved F1 to a God forsaken cow pasture thirty miles from town but the "visitors" like to teeter around drunk downtown. Seems like a "sporting" tradition) clogged up our downtown, smoking Marlboros and looking for the cheap beer prices. But this weekend is all about good, clean fun with......the ROT Rally. One of the largest motorcycle rallies in the U.S. So, again, on Friday we block the streets and motorcycles sans mufflers race up and down Congress Ave. while their riders look tough and mean. Who wouldn't want to get out and photograph that?
I headed downtown with a simple camera set up; the Samsung NX30 and the 50-200mm f4-5.6 zoom lens. The camera does a great job on anything that's standing still or moving gently but it certainly wouldn't be my choice for a BIF (or "Birds In Flight") shooting tool. I tried tracking motorcycles and their riders and got about a 50% success rate. While the camera has a first rate sensor and also seems to nail exposure with aplomb I'm still grappling with some little issues like the lag time between switching between the rear screen and the EVF. It's too long. I shot mostly with the lens wide open which, while not generally recommended with consumer zooms, worked well for me and delivered files that, when in sharp focus, have rich detail and good snap. Samsung has proven to me time and again that they can make great glass.
I spent a couple of hours walking around shooting the stuff I saw but I got bored before the 7pm parade to the capitol building got started and decided to call it a day. Below are some of the marvelous scenes I came across on my walk down Sixth Street...
Don't get me wrong. I like motorcycles.