Radically hot Summer.

Barton Springs Pool. 

I shot this image of a lifeguard at Barton Springs Pool a few Summers back. I was walking around that day with a very special camera; it was the Sony R1. An all-in-one camera that had an APS-C size sensor and a pretty darn great 24-120mm (35mm equivalent) Carl Zeiss zoom lens on the front. It wasn't particularly small but it wasn't a heavy camera. I got the most amazing shots with it. The color and contrast was pretty much always on the money. The wide end of the lens was well enough corrected to allow me to use it for some brochure projects in which we photographed buildings and interior architecture. 

On the day I shot this it was smoking hot outside. I took the Sony R1 along with me on this adventure because I didn't need to bring along anything else. No attachments, no battery grips, no extra lenses and no extra batteries. Just a camera that was easy to operate and even had its own very usable EVF. When you work in the heat it's great to distill down the details to the fewest possible. Making fewer and fewer decisions is a great coping mechanism for dealing with heat.

Yesterday was a record setter for that particular date in July, in Austin, Texas. The temperature was 110 degrees and, with the humidity added in, the heat index was more like 115. Of course, that would be the day that the title company in San Antonio would want to schedule the final closing on my parent's house! The closing was scheduled for 2:30 pm and I didn't relish flogging my own car (yet again) through the tire shredding heat, nor did I look forward to the inevitable full stop traffic jams on the dreaded IH-35 highway. Really, who wants to sit at a dead stop on a blistering blacktop on a 110 degree afternoon, waiting for the coolant in their radiator to boil out? But since I had to execute the contract as power of attorney (or attorney in fact) I was more than ready to get the process over with, in spite of the heat.

In a flash of genius (they come few and far between...) I decided to rent a car for the trip down and back in the heat. On Sunday I picked up a white Buick LaCrosse from Avis car rental. It was as close to brand new as I've ever had from a rental agency, with only 4,000 miles on it. The car reminded me of the kinds of cars we got to drive in the 1970s. Big and heavy, smooth on the highway and fast. And I'll have to say after owning a number of BMWs and Hondas, GM knows better re: how to do air conditioning for Texans. You could keep a six pack of beer cold enough just by sticking it in front of the vents....

The car was fun and the traffic was surprisingly moderate. We closed on the house with no glitches and then I headed back up to Austin at 3:15 in the afternoon. I chose to go the back way, across the "Devil's Backbone" on Hwy. 281. I cut across my favorite "lonely" rural highway, #165 and saw few cars and no big trucks. When the temperature on the car thermometer hit 114 degrees (f) I started watching the radiator temp and then oil temp a little closer. I sure didn't want to have a breakdown five miles from the nearest ranch house...

Everything went like clockwork and I got back home around 5pm, just in time for Austin's legendary rush hour traffic. But since I was heading into town instead of out of town even that wasn't bad. I took a camera with me on the trip but the heat convinced me never to stop and click off a shot.

With the sale of the house behind me I finally (for the first time this year) feel like I can devote some real attention to resuscitating my own photography and videography business. I'm excited by the prospect.

We had a cold front blow in late last night. It should only hit 100 today!!! Break out the sweaters!!!

I hope everyone is coping with the Summer heat load well. Only three more months of Summer to go here in Austin and then we'll settle down and get our two weeks of Autumn. Brrrrrrr.

Now is the time to swim.


  1. fwiw- I did a search for "Hasselblad 180mm portrait" and two of your images were the first to pop up.

  2. Don't need to post this one, but I think you meant R10.

  3. I still have an R1, though I bought it long after its popularity faded and prices dropped way down. Loved the idea at the time, but the slow write times killed it for me as a day-to-day working camera. I still love the colors and sometimes use it for fun portrait sessions with friends.

    The weird little 828 is still the only digital camera I really loved, but again the slow RAW write time killed it.

    I wonder what the photography world might look like if Sony had never bought Minolta and stuck with their own quirky designs. Mirrorless might now be 10 years ahead of where it is. Or then again, if they hadn't figured out the speed thing their camera line might have gone the way of their computers and audio.

  4. It's hot every where. Here in Portland it's been 90 to 100 with high humidity for a month now, and no end insight. Very unusual for this time of year. Makes it hard to get outside work done before the rains. True, in 3 months we'll be back to fall colors and the rain, then more rain, then more rain.................... so I'll be heading to my house in the desert where it's 118-125 at this time, in the shade. That's hot.


  5. The R1 was an amazingly useful and handy camera. My office had one and I used it around town. I found it especially good in low light conditions, such as in old hospitals or abandoned schools. Put it on a tripod, trigger the shutter, and let it record photons as long as it needed. The color and exposure was always close to perfect, and that Zeiss lens was fantastic. I retired, and I am sure the R1 was surplussed a long time ago. It is a pity that the lens could not be used on newer cameras; that is a bad feature of permanent-lens cameras of any type - you lose the optics when you discard the body.


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