Just stuck my camera out the window and blazed away today. Someone else was driving the car up the "Devil's Backbone."

The landscape looks more exciting when it blazes by at 85 mph. Wear your glasses in case the June bugs come a splattering.

Panasonic V-Log. A quick and simple test.

This is the video in its V-Log form, unedited by human hands.


This is the video after I've applied the Panasonic V-Log to Rec 709 LUT and tweaked a few settings.

It's a quick and easy test to make sure that the GH5S, Final Cut Pro 10X, and the LUT all play nicely together. Ostensibly, you can get more dynamic range with a Log file but you have to shoot a file that looks very flat in your monitor. The GH5S has an in-camera LUT (look up table) that changes the way the file looks on your monitor, as you shoot, to get you, visually, into the ballpark.

You bring the super flat file into your editing program and overlay a LUT that maps the file into a REC 709 space so it looks normal. I find I like a bit more richness/darkness in the shadows so I also hit the curves controls.

The GH5S nicely passes my test for a good 1080p shooting machine.

shot in V-Log. ISO 320. 60 fps. 10 bit 4:2:2. All-I. All done.

Random Thoughts on a Random Thursday. Collaged Thoughts.

I have no idea with this product does but I know it was fun to 
photograph it with a wide enough lens so I also saw this guy's feet...

Yes, that would have been done for a 2018 commercial client 
with the Nikon D700. And, yes, we did get paid to show up
with that ancient equipment....

Most important news first. I had a really great swim practice this morning. I did some research on the web because what I'd really love, going forward, is for some major corporation to pay me just to swim every day. If I had to do less "real" work I could get back to two workouts a day and I'd be in really great shape. I just can't figure out how to spin the advantages of me swimming for clients so they'll want to toss me ten or fifteen thousand dollars per month. I do take a baby aspirin every day...I wonder if Bayer would play ball? Anyway, I think it would be really cool to maintain my lifestyle by swimming for a couple hours a day and maybe starting a blog about that. "Swimming my way to retirement"? 

What makes for a great swim practice? Hot weather combined with chilled water. It was right at 79 degrees today; cold enough to really feel your hands getting resistance in the water but not so cold as to make short rest intervals uncomfortable. Nice lane mates. It's great if you swim with two or three other people in your lane who are just a couple seconds faster per hundred than you are. Then you really have to work at keeping up and making the intervals. Clean water. The clearer the better. A great coach on deck; someone who will leave you alone when you are "in the zone" but who will step in to give you encouragement if something is a bit off. Finally, those wonderful days when someone thinks ahead and brings coffee and fresh fruit for a poolside, after-swim snack. Greet the sun. Feel the water. Raise your heart rate. Feel alive. 

This was my favorite video camera to date. It may drop down a notch 
when I've got the GH5S thoroughly figured out.

I'm heading out to practice handholding the new GH5S in conjunction with a variable neutral density filter and the Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 Pro lens. I've already tested one important parameter: the lens does provide image stabilization while shooting video, and it's very good and very steady. The weak link right now is just my lack of daily experience handholding this particular rig in video mode. It's something you get if you do it all the time. You get comfortable with the best way to hold and move with the camera. I want to get my hand and body skills nailed down first and then I may look at handheld gimbals. They seem so alluring and yet the gimbal can impart its own style if you just go with the flow. I want to know the old school way to handle the camera before I get a new crutch. And, yes, the audio from the GH5S and audio interface is perfect enough for me. I'm heading out to do snippets in downtown and I'll be experimenting with V-Log and HLG. Now I just need to scare up the right LUT for the GH5S in V-Log + Final Cut ProX. 

Monday afternoon is coming quick and I'd like to get about 8 hours of hands on practice in before I start shooting with the new camera for client. So far I haven't run into any monster glitches; not even a small gremlin or two. 

Look!!! Nikon has gone mirrorless!!!

Where are we with all the Nikon mirrorless announcement stuff? Michael Johnston (the Online Photographer) questioned whether Nikon "deserves" to be successful in the space. I thought that was a bit odd but it seems as though that kind of moralizing futurism is a great way to garner comments on a blog. He's gotten about 103 comments, and counting, since yesterday. I would say that most companies who haven't committed crimes, cheated their customers, or knowingly launched defective products deserve every chance the free market will give them. Nikon is not some company that spews out the dregs of the industry and begs for your money; they have a one hundred year history of providing great photographic products and, for the most part, standing behind what they sell. I've heard the same reactions directed at Sony. I think we need to get serious. It's not like these companies are Monsanto or ADM. They aren't poisoning the lakes and rivers or making genetically engineered seeds and then patenting all seeds. They are just trying to make some really nice and precise consumer products for grownups to play with. And enjoy. And make art with. 

We should wish all the camera makers good luck because we'll sure enough be moaning and groaning if they start to exit the market en masse and we wind up with one Microsoft Giant Type, monopoly camera company that controls an enormous swath of the market and doesn't feel the need to innovate or even fix their self-inflicted stumbles. I'm happy when all of the camera companies are humming along and making stuff we love. You should be too. 

Just wanted to put that out here. Now, on to Nikon. Seems like we're getting more and more believable stuff from the rumor sites. Today's conjecture is that we'll have two bodies coming soon; one that's tweaked for high speed (sports, et al) that will have a 24 megapixel sensor, and a second body that's optimized for ultimate resolution and image quality that will have 45 megapixels and the ability to stun people senseless with its image quality. The 24 megapixel version sounds yummy to me. I'll be buying one of those used in a few years. I can hardly wait. 

The other news is about lenses, and two in particular seem to be making peoples' antennae twitch. One is a 58mm f.095 and the other is a 36mm f1.2. Both will be native Z mounts and they'll be joined with the usual suspects; 24-70mm lenses in both fast and vanilla, and a few other lenses in which I had no immediate interest. I have my fingers crossed that they lens mount adapter is not the one accessory that launches on permanent back-order but then again... it's still impossible today, a year after launch, to get one's hands on a new D850 in north America.... All will be revealed in a week. 

How do I know a play at Zach Theatre is very, very popular? I start getting request from friends and family for comp tickets. I'm pretty good at snagging comps for myself but the inventory of ready tickets for "The Beauty and The Beast" is very, very thin and as long as the theater can get hard currency for seats it's tough to convince them to give them away. I've seen the play three times; they deserve your cash...

Here is my very first exterior shot with the GH5S (above). I was on my way downtown and passed by the theater around noon. I shot it close up with the Panasonic/Leica 8-18mm lens. I like leaning buildings but I'm not going to win new architect friends with that backward leaning image. It's a tough building to photograph because the only option other than a super wide is to shoot across four lanes of one of the busiest streets in Austin. Like this......(below).

In other notes, we're heading toward September, most public (and private) schools start up again in Austin next Tuesday, and downtown was bustling yesterday. There were lines of thirty to forty people at the popular food trucks, lots of people waiting for tables at nearly every downtown restaurant, and all the burger joints were packed. This  means more people on the streets to photograph and more people coming back to town to share coffee. 

Austin continues to grow but I'm not quite sure of the sign I found below. It's on a fence next to a giant hole in the ground. I'm not sure a weathered and sloppy sign is quite the advertising message I'd want to convey for a new high rise office building. I guess we'll see if their dream comes true. 

Finally, Kirk does car repair. I don't own a lawn mower and I don't have many tools. I have some pliers, a hammer and a set of socket wrenches. Somewhere in the studio I have a saw for cutting nine foot rolls of seamless down to more manageable sizes. I've never changed my own car's oil. I didn't grow up fixing cars. But yesterday I finally did one heroic car repair.

It was a hot and muggy day. I'd just finished shopping for dinner (my turn) at the local Trader Joe's and I had a bag of perishable groceries in the back seat of my car. I turned the ignition key and the car hesitated a bit before starting. I should have driven straight to the Honda dealer and thrown myself at their mercy at that moment. Instead, since the car started, I made a mental note to get the battery checked in the near future and I drove off to a gas station to fill up my tank. Task completed I got back in the car and turned the key only to hear a wimpy and short grrrr. grrrr. from the starter followed by a painful silence and no joy from the engine. The car was in shade and the gas station had both "full service" available as well as mechanics. Good luck for me.

One of the mechanics came over and popped the hood. He put some sort of external jump starting battery on the terminals of my battery and I started the car. Then he used a different device to check the alternator. It was fine. "You've got yourself a dead battery." He said. I asked if they had a replacement in stock. "No. We'd have to order one and we probably couldn't get it till tomorrow afternoon. If it was me I'd just head over to Costco and buy one. You'll save a lot of money." I thanked him and headed home.

I turned off the car in the driveway and borrowed Belinda's car to head over to the local Costco. I took the battery inside and they looked at some hieroglyphics on the outside of the dead box and determined that it had not yet crested their 3 year battery warranty, so.....they traded it out at no cost for a brand new battery.

I Googled how to replace my battery. It was dark by the time I got started but that gave me an excuse to set up four battery powered LED lights, on light stands, around the engine compartment. Things were going well until a skunk showed up. It stood on a sidewalk about thirty feet away and just, more or less, watched me. I'd turn the wrench one rotation and then look back over at the skunk --- I didn't want to be taken by surprise --- and I have enough trouble keeping clients happy without showing up smelling of skunk! He finally relented and sauntered off into the darkness and I was able to devote my full attention to the task in front of me. I know I should have grabbed the GH5S and done a behind-the-scenes video of my heroic battery replacement so you guys could see how adroit I was with tools but there was dinner waiting.

Everything works now but I did have to reset the clock in the car. Tip of the hat to Costco for their generous return policy. A big "thank you" to the skunk for not wanting a more active role in this adventure. Batteries die quicker in hot weather. I think it's all the time we have mired in traffic on super hot days that kills 'em. But, as long as I have access to Google I think I can change another battery in the future. No skinned knuckles.

Not as much fun as not having to change batteries. Funny, when I pulled out the battery it looked a bit smaller than the battery in my last car. My first thought was, "Sony battery." Couldn't help it.