12.22.2018

Another sunny day in urban paradise. Another perfect walk with a camera. Another perfect camera and lens combination.


It's been a pretty nice day around here in Austin, Texas. I got up and went to swim practice and our coach put up a whimsical "12 Days of Christmas" set. As you can imagine we swam sets of 12, 11, 10....etc. distances until we finished with a leisurely 600 yard semi-sprint. We didn't get too much yardage in over the hour and a half but we did get in a lot of zany sprints. At coffee one of our long time swimmer/coffee klatch comrades handed out Starbucks gift cards to everyone in attendance. My swimmer friend Nancy brought everyone ample, pre-packaged servings of her rightly famous bourbon balls. John brought a treasure trove of witty bumper stickers and encouraged everyone to take a few. 

After our coffee I headed home to check in on Boy, Mom and Studio Dog. We headed to our favorite hamburger place for a fun Saturday lunch (a twenty year tradition). Yes, the parents (mostly me) interrogated Ben about the progress of his job..... We're only human. But he takes everything in stride and managed to share a few nuggets (of information, not "nugget" nuggets). 

Since the sun was shining and the thermal measuring device showed 81 degrees Fahrenheit I figured it was high time for a cleansing walk through the streets of downtown Austin, Texas so I grabbed a camera and lens and headed out.

Having spent far too much time glorifying the Fuji cameras and lenses lately I decided to revisit one of my favorite and most quirky cameras, the Panasonic GH5S. It's the version without image stabilization and with only 10 megapixel files. Most people just presume it's for video.  But it's also the camera with the perfect viewfinder, and the only Panasonic consumer camera I know of that generates true, 14 bit raw files. When I open the files via Adobe Bridge the info panel tells me they are 16 bit files but I know better. I think. At any rate they always seem to look very, very juicy and swank.

The perfect all around lens to mate with this particular camera is the Panasonic/Leica 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 as it has Panasonic's version of lens based image stabilization and it's nicely sharp and well behaved at just about every setting. 

As I walked in the warm sunshine I was feeling a bit guilty after reading Michael Johnston's column yesterday in which he goes into detail about his arduous toil on his estate. Mowing, leaf mulching and all sorts of manual labors. Even bringing his lawn mower into his house so it will start on frosty days... His post made me feel as though I should get off my lazy butt and get some yard work done. 

But then I remembered that I'd had a run in with a particularly vicious tree saw nearly 20 years ago and at that time, after damaging the hood of my wife's car, destroying a $1,200 pair of Armani eyeglasses and giving myself a cut on my temple that required medical attention, all in the space of about a minute (my very first attempt at tree pruning!) Belinda forbid me to ever work with yard tools, and especially powered tools, ever again. As a result, I've never owned a lawn mower, edging equipment, anything that might mulch something and, of course, no power saws!

We've got a yard guy who has a helper. They come about every two weeks during the verdant months and PRN (as needed) in the winter. They do work around Austin so they've got a good sense of how fast grass is growing and how the leafs are falling at any particular time. While I have had to pay for this service for several decades the secondary benefit (after not having our big yard look ratty and unkempt) is that I am free from spending the time it would take me to do this myself. Time I use to take walks around the city and to play with various cameras. My yard guy also does nice rock work and built us a beautiful retaining wall. He also has all kinds of other gear, including a pressure washer. 

I've hired him to drop by on Friday next week to pressure wash the chimney (exterior, of course) because we had all kinds of issues trying to make efficient fires in the fireplace which generally resulted in lots of smoke and a sooty coating on the exterior rock work, and a relatively recent rationale with which Belinda and I convinced ourselves that burning firewood was increasing our carbon footprint and that we should cease and desist for the sake of the planet. That, and the fact that there are only a handful of days in Austin when a fire might really be appreciated. 

I will think of Michael Johnston the next time my yard guy pulls up in his white truck and I hand him a check on my way out for another leisurely walk; which may or may not include good coffee.

So, how was the camera? Did it live up to my memories of its previous grandeur? Yes. It's the current "cult" camera (wink, wink, nod, nod, secret handshake, etc.) for the Panasonic m4:3 system. Coveted by those in the know as much as a seven element, dual range, Leica 50mm Summicron was in the days of yore.

Swimming, eating, drinking coffee, walking and playing with cameras. Nice vacation. Happy Holidays.

Below: all are from the GH5, shot raw in 14 bit, with the 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 P/L lens. Actual sunny skies.....