Starting out the New Year right. A nice walk with a good camera.

The images just above and just below are window displays at one of Austin's rare book stores; this one over on 12th St. I had never seen a wreath made from manuscripts before and I found the effect intriguing and attractive. They made for very topical holiday displays. 

I shot the images yesterday, on the first day of 2016. There is something really wonderful about walking on your own, with a camera over your shoulder, and no real agenda. The camera represents the potential to capture and share images but, if you are relaxed about it, the presence of the camera doesn't have to mandate that you shoot a little, a lot, or anything at all. On its own the process of walking is healthy and allows you the mental space to think and turn over concepts, conflicts or ideas with ease. 

When I go out for walks with friends there are just two goals; one is the sharing of good conversation and ideas, and the other is to get some exercise. I never bring along a camera when walking with a friend. It would create a disconnection for one or the other of us. If I saw something I wanted to photograph I'd have to break the continuity of the conversation; the flow of the exchange, and switch gears into my design/photography mental space. Then, once the photograph was taken, I would have to switch gears back into the social relationship. This doesn't mean I don't value the walks with other people but I treat them differently than I do when I'm walking alone. By the same token I would never bring along an active cellphone when having a meal at a nice restaurant, with friends. I can't think of much ruder behavior than stopping a conversation over dinner to look at a text message or answer a call. 

Since I was walking by myself I was able to plot a new course without having to build a consensus, or check in with a walking partner. I parked in my usual place, by the Treaty Oak, about a block from the downtown Whole Foods store, and walked north instead of my usual east/west route. I cut up to 12th St. (where I saw these paper wreaths) and headed to the state capital where I witnessed a small band very armed people demonstrating in favor of the new open carry law in Texas. I headed all the way south on Congress Ave., over the river to Barton Springs Rd. before heading west and back to my car. 

It was cold and blustery yesterday. My warm jacket felt great and my mid-weight gloves were a good match for the smaller buttons on my camera of choice. I was "open carrying" an Olympus OMD EM5-2 with the newly updated firmware. I chose to use a Panasonic 42.5mm 1.7 lens for the whole walk. No gear choices to make. 

The one extra decision I did make was to shoot entirely in black and white for the whole day. It reminded me of my early adventures in photography when I would carefully husband a 36 exposure roll of Kodak's Tri-X film for days at a time. 

I mentioned the updated firmware and I wanted to share my experiences with you about the update. I did one camera first and then put the newly upgraded camera next to the one that had not yet been upgraded to I could easily match my old settings. The upgrading process throws away your settings! Having a "reference" camera was a quick way to resolve any selection decisions that might have been unclear. 

Both upgrades went without a hitch. There was one bit of user knuckle-headedness though. One camera had the new, flat video profile greyed out in the menu. I was unable to set it. I was getting very frustrated and I again put both cameras (now both upgraded) side by side to see what might be different between the one which allowed the setting of the flat profile and the one that did not. I found the difference pretty quickly, I had one camera set up to shoot monochrome while the other one was set up in the "natural" profile setting. The one with the color setting had no issues selecting the new profile in the "i" menu. As soon as I shifted out of monochrome the second camera was also able to use the new profile. I guess that's the kind of detail that slips between the cracks when Olympus goes to write about the new changes in camera operation caused by firmware updates. 

I have been shooting more and more work in black and white with the Olympus cameras. They make it fun and easy to do, and it's very cool to see monochrome in the EVF. I've also enjoyed looking at the finished work --- black and white is different. It harkens back to a different age of photography but at the same time it's so graphic and represents a more distilled design sensibility. I'll work on shooting more and more of it this year. The combination of the black and white feedback; via the EVF, the great image stabilization, and the perfect focal length made my first fun and friendly shoot of the year a happy occasion. More like this.

When I got home I was confronted by Studio Dog who told me, in her own delightful way, that the weather was not fit for man nor beast and questioned my sanity in the leaving the safety of the pack, and the warm house, for some adventure; the likes of which didn't not even pay off in tasty meat or other treats. Chastened, I slunk into the studio to process my take. 

I ran both cameras through their paces this morning and haven't found any "deal killing" hidden, scary secrets with the firmware upgrades. I like the flat profile for video very much for video and actually wish I could use it for stills. It's very nicely done.

I have one resolution for 2016: Have more fun taking photographs. That's it. Happy New Year!


phil said...

Happy New Year from NW England...give studio dog a cuddle from me....Phil

Dave Lemieux said...

Happy to hear you're out and about packing your OMD out in the open on day 2. Love the pics and as a New Englander, I always struggle with interesting things to photograph this time of year.

ag said...

Hi Kirk.
I have always enjoy your blog and your musings. Would you care to mention the brand of gloves you are wearing. They look like they have an index finger very suitable to shutter releases and other buttons and knobs.
Thanks. Hope you and your family have great New Year.

Al Gardner

Anonymous said...


Have a fun, healthy new year to you and family. Keep on blog'in I enjoy your words and pictures. I would have enjoyed some portraits of some of the gun toting Texans if you felt like pointing your "shootin' irons" at them. Perhaps they may not have appreciated your portrait skills.

Kirk Tuck said...

Thanks Anonymous. If the open carry people want to do it in public they'll have to respect my right to photograph whatever I want, including them. Today I'm going to "open carry" my Nikon. Loaded with a 135mm.