We've reached the 20 million page view mark. Add in everyone who reads on a feed and we've probably doubled that. I'm celebrating.

This is one of the first self portraits I put up on the blog. Shot in a convex mirror on the corner of a parking garage in downtown Austin in 2009. An Olympus EPL1 in my hands.

The nicest thing about my career as a photographer was being available to go to my kid's school, to all his soccer games, all his swim meets, all his cross country meets, his martial arts practices and even the saturday mornings when he would drag me (he was five at the time) to Toys R Us for the weekly Pokemon card game matches. Screw work. Spending time with your kids is the greatest gift you can give yourself. It may also turn out to be good for the kid. 

I'm sure I could have made twice as much money if I worked a relentless corporate job but I'd gladly trade all the money to live my life exactly the way I just spent the last 19 years doing it. 
No regrets and no big projects I missed out on.

(above photo taken at the Zilker Kite Festival by Ben Tuck)

With Ben now away at college for his sophomore year it's me and the dog holding court at the studio every day. We entertain each other pretty well and when we get bored we send prank texts to Ben. The Studio Dog is getting as grey as I am. It's well earned. 

In the last six years I've written five books, taught lots of classes, written over 2,400 blog posts and I still had time to do hundreds and hundreds of photographic assignments in cities across the country. If you keep moving you stay skinny. That, and a good dose of daily swim practice.

The image just above was taken during a lighting workshop I did at the University of Texas at Austin for the Texas Photographic Society. I'm still engaged with classes at UT and ACC. Maybe I have something to give back. Maybe I just tell entertaining stories. 

The blog has allowed me to meet interesting photographers. Here I was a model in a lighting workshop run by Will Crockett. Will took this photograph of me grinning like a fool.

I think that being a freelance photographer can be a very lonely profession. That's why this photograph I took in a Paris Metro station, with an old Leica M3 and a 50mm Summicron, resonates so acutely with me. But I have to thank friends (and blog readers) like Frank, Keith, Bernard, Andy, Will, James, Paul and many others for making sure I showed up for lunches, coffee in the late afternoons, and the occasional excessive BBQ adventure. It's the connection between so many people that makes this blog so worthwhile for me.... It's all about connecting with people who are both like me and not like me----in a good way. 

The love of my life and the glue that holds everything together for me and Ben is Belinda. 
Wise, kind, smart and ...... pretty much perfect. She even takes great care of Studio Dog. 

I've had lots of great photographic assistants over the years but none so smart, beautiful, creative and intuitive as Renae. She was so much smarter than me it was embarrassing.... I still rue the day she left to pursue her career in NYC and LA. 

How many pairs of glasses does one photographer need?

I've come to believe that the reason so many people come here to read the blog is that in a uniform world they enjoy encounters with eccentric people. I've always tried to be as normal as possible but it rarely works convincingly. Why else the fascination with orphaned old tech?

About a half an hour a day makes for a disciplined engagement with the blog. More time spent moderating comments than actually writing stuff down.

It was a Canon Canonet QL17 that dragged me kicking and screaming into a life (mis)spent taking pictures and hanging out drinking coffee. It was Tri-X that kept me honest for a couple of decades. 

Photo by Ellis Vener. 

It was my success with the article I wrote about Leica rangefinders, on Photo.net that eventually persuaded me to start writing a regular blog. That article, written in 2000, still has legs sixteen years later. That's something a writer can be proud of... 
Damn. Those were great cameras. And lenses.

Photo of me taken by Will van Overbeek with the camera and lens just above.

And a sunburned Belinda with the same combination. 
Go ahead. Try shooting with a Leica rangefinder. You will be drawn to the dark side. 
It's a powerful and addictive combination of the world's best glass and the world's most logical camera. 

I still have thousands and thousands of pages of slide to go through and organize. The march of progress is the bane of photographers who survive long enough to regret their lack of earlier organization. 

Early, wild, Austin photographer photographed by documentary photographer, Alan Pogue. 
Circa 1980. Tell me again how the Strobist community invented off camera flash just a few years ago......

An image that inspired a number of pages in the Novel, The Lisbon Portfolio. 
R series Leica always over the shoulder back then.

Ringlight portrait courtesy of Keith Kessler.
I guess photographers deserve their reputation for looking scruffy. 

Why cameras should go with you everywhere and why you shouldn't care about correct exposure. 

It's one giant continuum. 

Thanks for reading all the stream of consciousness blogging I've churned out for the past six years. I've enjoyed having the smartest readers on the web and I've learned a lot from all of you who come by and read and comment and then e-mail me to help me edit my excesses. 

A special thanks to my friend, Fred, for watching out for my kid, Ben, while he enjoys college some 2,000 miles away from home. Such a comfort to Belinda and me.

Photograph is not dead or dying, it's just getting started. 

I hope you'll stick around for the next 20 million page views and the next 2,400 blog posts. 
I'll keep writing if you keep reading.....

Thank you, Kirk 

Is "visual note-taking" the same thing as photography?

sometimes I take images of things because I want to remember how the subject looked and how it was presented to me in real life. I want the visual note so I can incorporate it into the things that I write about. The images become reminders for me and at the same time they seem to me to be quixotic and serial segments of life in the real world. A concept in seeing the flow of modern life as it exists now. In the moment. In this instance. It will all change next week. Next year. Tomorrow. 
This will be a memory that provides a context when I think back about this particular period of time. 
It may not be relevant to anyone else. But should that matter?

The Uncomfortable Purgatory of being on the wrong side of new gear announcements.

Life in the trenches of visual content creation can be messy and uncomfortable. But few things are more uncomfortable than finally making the decision, after several months of research and exploration, to buy the state-of-the-art camera body only to have a newer, quicker, brighter and more appropriate, upgraded version announced while your acquisition is in transit to you.

It just happened to all the people who waited for a month or so to read all the reviews and actually handled the Sony A7R2. When that camera was delivered less than two months ago the internet was on fire with hyperbole. That camera currently sits on top of the DXO charts for best overall still image quality while the video sites waxed euphoric about its wonderful, 4K in camera, video quality. With a generous nod to both its improved usability and also its graceful handling of high ISO settings. The only issue was one for videographers to grapple with, and that is potential overheating while using the in-camera 4K video settings. Apparently the problem is easily resolved by writing files to an external digital recorder. So, in sum: The best image quality of any current (non-medium format) consumer camera on the market today coupled with what might be the best 4k video solution for under $4,000.

What's not to like?

Welllllll. Here's the flip side of deal. While the A7R2 may be the best thing since sliced bread for still photographers who work with discipline and determination (i.e.: Not a Sports Camera!!!) most video aficionados would have preferred a camera that uses the full format for 4K while the A7R2 does a bit of a crop in. It's at its best when used in the "Super 35" crop. It also lacks the latest Log profile for video. And just last week Sony dropped an anvil on the feet of the early adapting video guys (the ones who threw down for the A7R2...) by announcing the imminent arrival of the replacement to the video-drool-worthy, A7S. That was a camera that brought a full frame, 12 megapixel sensor to market that was totally optimized for video. And is still the current king of low noise, high quality performance video. The current model (the A7S) can't record 4K video internally and it lacks in-body image stabilization but it's still the one to beat in the Sony line-up. At least it was until just last week...

The newly announced A7S-2 delivered the same great 12 megapixel, large sensel size, low noise dominance but now it uses much faster processors, records uncropped 4K video in-body and has the new and highly improved, 5 axis, in body image stabilization as well as the latest Log profiles. And it's about $300 cheaper than the much higher resolution (perfect for still photographers who like big hard drives....) A7R2. And the A7R2 was only the reigning champ for all of two months in the video world....

Why should we at VSL care? Well, I guess we really don't care that much in this situation. It's not like we're entirely video centric but the same thing seems to happen all the time on our side of the fence as well. We just get comfy with the Nikon D800 and the D810 comes along. The dust and oil problem of the D600 gets fixed in the D610 and we buy a couple only to have the somewhat superior D750 arrive hot on the heels of our purchase.

The products become obsolete so quickly now, or at least that's the way we've been trained to think about the process. The reality is that the Olympus E1 in the image above is still a highly usable camera IF you are still using it as you did when you bought it a decade ago. Portraits for websites? Small prints? Street art? It's a wonderful camera for all of that.

And the A7R2 is still the best big image camera on the market (well, we'll see when we fire up the comparison with the D810--- processing might count for something...) and that didn't change with the new arrival of the A7S-2. While some of the video features might be nice to have the difference in ISO performance will be of only mild interest to people who use the cameras for commercial production and the difference in frame crops is really kind of marginal.

The shutter in the A7R2 is rated for 500,000 shots. That's years of useful life for even a heavy duty shooter. We ought to look at its productive life in that measure and not by the features that are introduced on other cameras, after the fact. I gauge the useful like of the A7R2 as about 3 to 4 years of working production. Emotionally its useful life might be measured in weeks IF you are only keeping score of the features.

Should be fun when the older stuff starts to hit the used market. Sony is currently constructing a market filled with slightly used bargains. Better to look with happiness on the plethora of cheaply available, and good, back up cameras rather than to curse being T-boned by inevitable progress. ..

Just a few thoughts.