Swimming pool at 14mm on the Nikon D7100.

Everywhere I went on Weds. the people I talked to were already bored and tired with the low temperatures and the seemingly endless overcast skies. Cold, wet and gray. The novelty of making fires in the fireplaces had quickly worn thin. And the windy 34 degree early morning swim on Tues. had certainly notched down my tolerance for this sort of weather nonsense. 

Yesterday and today have been nearly as perfect as the weather gets in Austin, in January. I hit the noon workouts for maximum real vitamin D absorption. When I crossed the deck this morning with my goggles in hand it was about 55 degrees farenheit. The water was a less cool 80 degrees and the pool was filled to the brim with sun worshippers. 

I decided that I needed a few images of the pool to post on my bulletin board to bolster my swimming enthusiasm in case the weather takes another nose dive. I got to the pool half an hour early and walked around the periphery with the Nikon D7100 I keep in the car along with the 14mm Cine Rokinon lens. Nice combination. Lots of pixels and still decently wide at a 21mm equivalent.

I've given up trying to visually focus ultra wide lenses on optical viewfinder cameras. I'm spoiled by being able to quickly punch in magnification on EVF cameras and being able to see the images, protected from sun contamination, in the EVF. What I've been doing with this particular lens is to stop it down to f8 and then setting the focusing ring to ten or so feet and blazing away. Sure seems to work well and it turns the whole rig into a quick snapshot camera.

This is the pool I spend so much time in. During all but the late Spring and Summer months it is vacant for the greater part of every day. Our masters team uses it from about 6:30 in the morning till 9:30 a.m and then again from noon to 1:00 p.m. The local high school practices there from 3:30 till 5:00 p.m. And then we have a youth swim programs that uses it from 5:30 till 7:00 a.m. The pool is open until 9:00 p.m. to accommodate any evening lap swimmers who choose to swim after dark. 

While we call it "The Rollingwood Pool" it's really part of the Western Hills Athletic Club which is a private club about two miles west of Downtown Austin. The club sits on a handful of acres in the middle of a beautiful neighborhood and (excepting the Summer months) is quiet, secure and peaceful. When the weather is in the 60's and higher I often go there with a laptop and write stuff. Just beyond the pool in the image above is an open air basketball court and beyond that, through tree studded lawn, is a sand volley ball court. There are also two sets of tennis courts. I think that if I ever retire I'll just plan on getting my mail delivered there and arrange somehow to have hot coffee delivered by Starbucks. It's that refreshing of a spot in an otherwise frenetic and jangly city.

We've done much renovation this year to the club. We now have brand new locker rooms, each with four showers fed by a duo of tankless water heaters, and each locker room is complete with central air conditioning and heating. We even invested in a swim suit spinner! Put your suit in after workout and it spins at a million miles an hour dragging all of the water out of the fabric. No more stinky, mildewed suits in the trunk of the car....and no more trying to get into a wet suit that's been freezing overnight.

We get an interesting mix of swimmers in the pool. We have at least a half dozen recent Olympians who are here because it's so nice to be able to swim outside year round. We seem to have a surplus of driven electrical and computing engineers who are swimming to improve their triathlon performances and we have a huge component of people like me who swam in high school and college and just want to stay in shape. We also have a large contingent of attorneys who mostly seem to be diligent distance swimmers.  Our holiday parties are legend and our workouts are tough and fun. 

As a working photographer it's nice to have a place to go where no one really talks about work, everyone likes everyone else and the only competition is in the pool. It's a nice respite from the inanity that sometimes surrounds pods of photographers when they gather together. Amazingly, there is not a single other photographer who swims in our program. I'm happy to have a place to go to sample something beyond the feedback loop of photography and imaging.

I'd be curious to know what the VSL readers in various other cities do for exercise and camaraderie when they need to shut off photography for a while and just have mainstream fun. Especially the folks who live in the great white north. Anybody care to share?


  1. At just a couple of years older than you, Kirk, I too find exercise to be an equally important component to my life. A long time run, bike, and weight trainer, I've taken up Crossfit in the last 6 months. Best thing I've ever done. I find suffering with others much more fun than suffering alone. I get my exercise, and the social component to someone who works alone and used to workout alone is really satisfying. And the strong women are a joy to behold. I'm starting a niche clothing company this year and I've already got a class full of models!

  2. It's been below freezing here in the North-East for the past few weeks so many outdoor activities have been curtailed. I'm retired, and try to walk my studio dog twice a day when possible, yoga, and treadmill in the evenings. Otherwise, I'm in my small studio pursuing a lifelong passion, painting and drawing.

    Tomorrow afternoon my wife and I will meet friends for a piano concert at our local library. I'll take my Fuji X-E1 along with a few of my old Minolta (rokkor) lenses for fun.

  3. Larry, That actually sounds wonderful to me.

  4. I'm about your age but I really started my commercial photography career about 12 years ago. For me I still think about making images a lot of the time.

    I go to a gym these days as I cannot run since skiing took the starch out of my legs.

    I don' t socialize at the gym. I enjoy talking to my clients and my wife and my kids (when they call). For me, my work is my social life and my creative life. I look forward each day to a new set of challenges. When I get home we enjoy slow cooked food and good books.

  5. I started off as a swimmer, but here in the UK getting out of the pool and heading into the cold and rain is not so fun.

    Which leads me to look at your photos above very enviously.

    We're off to the Olympic pool here later,as my daughter has a week off of lessons and wants to fun swim.

    How to get away from the day job? I now play badminton. Urban walk. Go to concerts/plays/galleries. Photography is another escape as I'm a scientist who enjoys writing too.

    Which might be one of the attractions of your blog. The interests are familiar, but the angle is different.

    But I think that most good artists cultivate a wide range of interests. Adds perspective.


  6. Here in North Dakota we have warmed up to 30 above. Soon we'll be back to winter norms of 20-30 below again.
    Why not try the 14mm on Full Frame bodies so you really get the benefit of the wide angle?

  7. I ride with a large group of cyclists and we engage in 3 or 4 rides a week. We are on the competitive side of the sport, with rides lasting anywhere from 39 to 73 miles, and averaging a little over 20mph. Like you, I enjoy being able to spend time with a group of people and not discuss work, politics, gossip, etc., and simply focus on the sport we love so much, fitness, and of course sharing a good lunch after the ride.
    ~ Ron

  8. If I didn't have my thrice a week spinning classes and gobs of walking, here in north Florida, near Jacksonville, I would be crazy. It clears my head and the spinning works my body to a frazzle, a good thing at 68.

    I really do not understand how non-exercisers do it. I feel stale if I don't sweat through a t-shirt or two every day. The rest of the time is spent taking pictures, reading, two rounds of golf a week and cooking. I try to spend an hour a day in my office making prints or getting files ready to print..

    It's a great life.

  9. Those are beautiful photos, they make me want to jump right in the pool. Thanks for sharing.

    Not sure if this is an answer to your question, but when I don't want to make or edit photos, I play lots of table tennis. For some reason, I am not mixing both, I tried once to make a video to see myself playing, but it didn't happen again.


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