I love taking photographs in museums because there's always so much line, color and texture. I'm careful to use quiet cameras so people can enjoy the respite from all the noise of daily life.

These are all from my favorite Austin, Texas museum,
The Blanton Museum on the University of Texas campus.

A few more bizarre shots from the Pentax K-1.

Outside a shop on a street in the Old Town area of Montreal.

Early morning in our suite at the L Hotel in Old Town Montreal.
Highly recommend this property for anyone visiting. 
Get a suite. Roomy, quiet and comfortable.

2019 was the year that I had a lot of fun photographing at a food market in Montreal. I'm not a stranger to food photography and as long as the light is good and the food is high quality it's hard to make a bad image.

When Belinda and I were on vacation in Montreal in October we visited a famous outdoor food market. We don't have anything like it in Austin so we stayed for a long time and looked at pretty much everything. 

I've done a number of food photography assignments for magazines, did my first cookbook (Creative Mexican Cooking, by Anne Lindsey Greer) for Texas Monthly Press in the early 1980s, contributed many, many photographs for the internationally awarded, Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years of Food and Art, cookbook and art Latin art collection book in 2007. Recently I've done several videos for restaurants that are centered around beauty shots of the food and food preparation. In addition to those experiences I also love to eat food. 

Our photography in Montreal was mostly done with my Pentax K-1 camera and the 50mm f1.4 lens or the 28-105mm f3.5-4.5 Pentax lens. It worked well. The color and the detail in the files are the equal of any 35mm format camera currently in the market. We can argue about usability and lens availability but the ability of the camera to make absolutely beautiful files is argument-proof. The full frame sensor helps with limiting depth of field in order to focus attention on main subjects while the camera's in-body image stabilization is great and provides a good platform for longer than normal exposures --- which help keep the ISO down.

While the Lumix S1 and S1R are at least equal in their sensors' abilities to make beautiful files where the new cameras really shine for me is the selection of lenses I've been able to put together. They transcend most of the available Pentax lenses and let me work right out to the edge. 

That being said, I have a warm spot in my heart for the Pentax K-1. It's definitely designed and built to be one of the most useable and comfortable cameras I ever had the pleasure to shoot with --- even when it didn't quite hit focus....

Two totally different self-portraits. Two different cameras.

Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 
L Hotel mirror. 

Third Street, Austin, Texas, USA.
Downtown building reflection.

My Two Favorite Architectural "Studies" of the Past Few Years....

Both shot with a Sony A7R2 and the 24-105 f4.0 Zeiss zoom.
Corrected in Lightroom. 


Zilker Park. In the Summer. Haze included.

On the way to Barton Springs Pool.

The end of every year is a great time to look through all the folders of images you've curated in the past 12 months to re-see and maybe better appreciate images that got lost in the hustle and bustle of life and work.

I photographed a bunch of material for a play called, "Immortal Longings." I didn't care for the play itself but I did have a great time photographing the ballet dancers who performed in little bursts in the production. These images are from a shoot at the very beginning of the rehearsals; done in conjunction with a TV commercial shoot. 

I grabbed "the greatest hits" at the time and sent them along to marketing but I always meant to circle back and look at the dance images more closely. Yesterday I was cleaning up my physical desktop, which is a boring and mundane task, and to break the boredom I had a Lightroom window open on my computer and I was intermittently browsing through images from 2019. I liked them many of them better than I remembered. 

Mostly photographed in dreadful light (I wasn't able to light the scenes...), and at high ISOs, with a Fuji XH-1 and the very, very, very good 90mm f2.0 lens. 

Photographs always look different after appreciable time has passed since their creation. Sometimes better than we remember and sometimes worse. 

And sometimes they match what I remember. 

This last shot, of the ballet slipper, is my favorite. The texture of the tights and the wonderful out of focus highlight in the background make it for me...


A step up from the point-and-shoot universe but a step down in price. The 16 megapixel GX85 is currently on sale everywhere as a two lens kit. $477.

I read the reviews. I saw the gushing on YouTube. It was 2016 and the GX85 had just been launched. A new shutter mechanism fixed "shutter shock," a condition that reared its head in the much more expensive GX8. The new camera "featured" 16 megapixels on its m4:3 sensor and it was the first Panasonic Lumix camera to forego the anti-aliasing filter on the sensor, which meant it could (and does) resolve more detail than the same sensor as it was used in the GX7 and the Olympus EM-5 mk2.

The camera was never on my radar until about a week ago when my sales pro at Precision Camera, responding to my questions about a $900 point-and-shoot camera, steered me to this camera kit. It's the body and two lenses. One lens is the 12-32mm shown above and the second lens is the venerable 40-150mm kit-ish lens. If you consider the current retail price of the lenses alone the kit is a wild bargain. When you discover that the camera is really, really good it becomes an insane bargain.

I've been playing with the GX85 since yesterday and it's a great "carry everywhere" camera. You might need a couple of spare batteries to get through the day with it but Wasabi Power batteries seem to work just fine and you can get two and a charger for about $20 on the interwebs. Maybe it's just the nutty way I overshoot that makes me so battery sensitive.

If you're toting around a Lumix S1R and the Lumix 50mm f1.4 S Pro lens all the time (or a Nikon D850 and the 24-105mm) you might want to get one of these kits to make leisure time with photography just a little bit less daunting....

But then again, if you are training for the USMS National Swim Championship in San Antonio in April in 2020 then the weight training with the bigger camera, and the lens with the glandular problem, might be part of your training regimen.

I bought the kit partly because of the low price, partly to use as a platform for my beloved Pen FT half frame lenses (from the 1970's) and mostly to have something decent to shoot with while running out for groceries, to the pool, and in situations where discretion is called for.

At least this time it's all in the same (menu) family.

What did you get yourself for the holidays? Just curious....

I don't do links but if you want one of these you might head over to Michael Johnston's site: https://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/blog_index.html
and order one from there. He'll get a small $$$ and that's cool because he does a wonderful job entertaining me with his writing about photography.....and diet....and addiction.....and (sadly) the game of snooker.

Work I did decades ago still drives my search for the right digital camera and lens. Odd how that happens. I'm finally narrowing it down.


This was photographed in my favorite, old studio at 500 San Marco St., over in east Austin. I was renting about 3000 square feet of space which came complete with 20 foot ceilings. I got the space when the company that owned the building was converting it from warehouse space to office and studio space. I think my rent was somewhere around $750 a month and included righteously good air conditioning and electric power + water service. Now $750 would barely cover utilities on a space that size....

I still have a recurring dream that I inadvertently left a bunch of gear and paperwork in the space and also that I forgot to tell them I was moving out. I wake up worried that I've lost precious negatives and that I owe tens of thousands of dollars in back rent, starting from 22 years ago... But the reality is that I renovated a new space at a property we bought and settled out with the previous studio landlord with all the paperwork done nicely and properly.

But it was such a fun and expansive space in which to shoot. I could set up a portrait subject ten or 
twenty feet from the front of my camera and still have a space of 25 feet behind the camera for the background. With those kinds of distances one could use longer lenses and the focus fall off to the background was nothing short of exhilarating. I make due in a much smaller space now and for the most part it works out because: A. We own the space. And, B. The vast majority of projects I do these days are on location. Would I still like a studio with 60 feet of linear space to work in? You bet. Would I like to pay thousands of dollars per month to occasionally shoot a portrait with absolutely no constraints? Hmmm. Maybe not so much....

The image above was shot in the studio just for the hell of it. We went through so much medium format film in a month that burning through ten or twelve rolls of color transparency film photographing a beautiful subject was a tiny drop in the bucket, financially. 

This one was done during a test session. We were breaking in two new lenses for our Hasselblad system; one was the new just then 180mm f4.0 Zeiss lens and the other was the 250mm f4.0 Zeiss lens  (I was replacing the 250mm f5.6 version with the faster version made for the 201F and other F cameras). The image is a look that I liked (and still like) very much. A long, fast lens on a big chunk of film. 

In fact, it's been the gold standard I still use to judge how successfully a current camera and lens system comes to matching or even getting close to what we could do with MF film, without breaking a sweat. So, my system from 24 years ago drives me to look at particular cameras and lenses, in a particular way, even now. 

When I used the 180mm f4.0 lens on a 6x6cm square Hasselblad format the corresponding 35mm equivalent angle of view was about 100mm. It always seemed just right to me. The 250mm was equal to about a 135mm on 35mm which was wonderful in my longer studio but would be unmanageable in the current space. 

I'm currently trying really hard to fit the Panasonic Lumix S1R, coupled with the Sigma 85mm f1.4 Art lens, into the mix and trying to set up the smaller system to best emulate what I used to get from the bigger film system. It's tougher work than I thought it would be but with every model encounter I get closer and closer. The first big step for me was to limit the S1R to shooting in the square, 1:1 format. That makes the 85mm effectively about 10mm longer by comparison. The next thing is trying to find the right imaging parameters with which I can get deep, dark shadows but wide open, airy highlights. Not exactly trying to leverage the ultimate in dynamic range at both ends of the curve but mostly just at the lighter (shoulder) edge of the tonal range. It's all a compromise but then again, so was film and film processing. 

I'm in the studio today trying to reverse engineer my own lighting from the 1990s. I'm afraid I really will need to re-buy one more five by six foot soft box. Somethings just can't be substituted...

I hope you are making good use of your vacation. I'm re-branding and re-strategizing for 2020 and I'm working hard and locking down what I want to make. It takes new work.


A Non-Linear wrap-up of the last three days. And what I bought myself for an end of the year present.

Belinda creating table decor with free rosemary. 

On Thursday, early afternoon, Ben and I drove out to Dripping Springs, Texas to Emmett and Lisa's Christmas Eve open house. Lots of people who I swim with were there with their families and friends. Ben got into a long conversation with an old friend who makes his living as a child psychiatrist while I took photos of Emmett (famous chef and restauranteur) using a saber to pop the tops off fancy Italian sparkling wine. Emmett and Lisa are the owners (totally hands-on) of Asti Trattoria which is my absolute favorite restaurant in all of central Texas. 

I knew Emmett was going to do something like use a saber to decapitate wine bottles so I brought along a camera and appropriate lens. It was a Lumix S1 and the 24-105mm kit lens. The perfect choice for a sunny afternoon out in the Hill Country.

Ben survived his interrogation conversation unscathed in time for us to head back home and help Belinda get ready for our Christmas Eve Celebration with a family of close friends. We made a standing rib roast which I think was a tactical error. Oh, it was delicious and everything but if you have a nicely marbled hunk of beef you'll be shocked at the sheer amount of grease that ends up on the bottom of the pan, on the cutting board, etc. As designated cleaner I now have an appreciation of just how labor intensive kitchen work can be. 

A good selection of red wines and Champagnes was a nice antidote to the very thought of my impending role as head dishwasher....

I photographed Belinda putting together sprigs of Rosemary with the Lumix S1 and the Zeiss 50mm f1.7 Y/C lens, wide open. (it was such a "wide open" sort of day). 

We ate and talked and laughed and sang until late in the evening and then, after our friends headed home, all settled down for a long winter's nap. 

A blue Santa in the window at Toy Joy.

On the 23rd I took a bit of time to go walk downtown to see if any pretty baubles caught my eye and would make nice gifts. I came home almost empty handed but did manage to take one photograph that I liked. It's the one just above of a plastic Santa in a blue costume. I love all the lights and colors in the background and captured this image with the Lumix S1 and the Sigma 45mm f2.8 (shot at f4.0).

As we say in Texas: "This here is Emmett, fixing to whack the top off a bottle of wiiiiiine."

I've been carrying the big Lumix S1 cameras and the even bigger lenses around for a couple of months now and they've done a great job but they left me desiring a small and discreet kit to carry around with me on long walks and in social situations in which five or six pounds of big, black camera gear seems to be a little out of place.

You probably read my musings about the possibility of adding a Lumix LX100 ii to the herd but I swerved after conferring with my retail camera consiglieri and carefully comparing the LX100xx and its sister camera, the Lumix GX85. For $900 I could buy the little fixed lens marvel but, with a current Panasonic end of year sale I could get the GX85 and two Lumix lenses for.....get this.....$449. 

I spent an hour at the store today, going back and forth and walking around shooting stupid stuff with each camera. The GX85 was the definite choice. Don't get me wrong, I loved most of the ethos of the LX100xx but the GX85 stepped up when I reminded myself that I had saved my complete collection of Olympus Pen FT half frame lenses from the chopping block during my last studio equipment purge. 

The GX85 can use those lenses (easily) since the mount (with lens adapter) is perfect for them. So, for less than $500 I end up with a body, a 45-150mm G Vario zoom and a 12-32mm G Vario zoom lens. I came right home and put the 40mm f1.4 Pen FT lens on the camera and I've been walking around, happy, ever since. 

Guess what? The GX85 menus are so similar to the S1 menus that I had the camera set up and ready to go in about 10 minutes. Bonus. 

I have time for a few more blog posts in 2019 so stay tuned. Or not. Your choice, but I won't be changing editorial content to please you.....


Love. Actually. Is so much cooler than cameras. I can't believe I just wrote that....

What's on my wish list for Santa? What are my chances?

From "Christmas Carol" at Zach Theatre.

So, here we are, the day before Christmas Eve. I'm having six or eight people over for dinner tomorrow evening and we decided to buy an eight foot collapsible table to handle the overflow. Belinda found one at Walmart.com and ordered it online for at store pickup. I haven't shopped at Walmart....ever. But I had a huge load of prejudices against the chain of stores: They've ruined small town retail, they have a huge employee base and many of them are on Medicaide because they aren't paid enough to buy health insurance, the majority of their inventory is cheap crap from China, they are a shopping nexus for all the people with MAGA hats, and so much more. But here's the deal, the store nearest us was clean, modern and well appointed. The waiting area for online pickups had nice chairs and pleasant employees. Everyone was helpful. The service was prompt. Someone even offered to carry the table out to my car. I left with a much modified impression of my most local Walmart... Go figure. Not going to be a regular stop on my shopping agenda....but....

We went to our local grocery store to pick up our grass fed, organic, standing prime rib roast for tomorrow's dinner and I found myself thinking I could have bought a new lens for the same price. Odd; food and lenses priced in the same range. Of course, it would not be a pricy lens, nor would it be organic but still... Might not be wise to shop often at a store where one fights for a parking space with Bentley and Maserati owners.....

I got stuff done today that had nothing to do with photography. I bought a few last minute presents for family. I cleaned the main bathroom (and I mean I cleaned!!! Scrubbed the floor, scrubbed the toilet, scrubbed the sink, made the bathtub look brand new. I also washed the kitchen floor (Saltillo tile) and did a couple loads of laundry. I hit the wine shop and impoverished myself rounding up something for everyone on our dinner list. 

But the most important thing I did was to ignore all the other things on my "to-do" list and hightail it over to the Deep Eddy pool for a frosty, refreshing, noon swim with my friends, Emmett and Julie. The water was a brisk 72 degrees but it was made more manageable by an air temperature around 70 degrees and a beautiful, sunny sky. I was in a hurry so I got in my 3200 yards and got back to (domestic) work.  (Our regular pool is closed---much to our chagrin---from now until Friday!!!! Grrrr.). 

As I was swimming along, trying to keep some feeling in my freezing toes, I started to think about what I might want for Christmas.... if there is a Santa Claus.

I made a list just in case someone out there has been torturing themself trying to figure out what to get me for being such an adorable and entertaining human. Let's go through the list. It's short. Call me if you need the shipping address. Okay?

I've been thinking of getting a new compact camera and I've narrowed my choices down to the Lumix LX 100ii or the Lumix LX 100ii. Either will do fine. My rationale? A good lens range, a small, nearly pocketable overall package, and a menu that's similar enough to the S1s that it won't cause my headaches. Reviews tell me that the 4K video is actually decent (no mic or headphone jacks) and that the color is a good match for the S1s and G9 in the Panasonic family. It's not ruinously expensive like a Leica and it's kind of on sale for about $100 off. If you decide that this is what you'd like to send along, Santa, then can I also request a second battery? I love back-up batteries.... 

I don't know why but after using some of these enormous lenses I've purchased for my Lumix S1 and S1R cameras I'm desiring one more big and over-engineered lens. The one I'm looking at right now...two days before Christmas.... is the Sigma 40mm f1.4 Art lens for the L mount. Sure, I have the 35mm Art lens and the breathtaking 50mm Lumix S Pro lens (which they sell by the pound...) but for some reason my avaricious brain is trying to convince me that it would be great to have something somewhere in the middle. You know, when your camera bag just isn't heavy enough and you're paralyzed trying to decide between the 50 and the 35. 

The 40mm Sigma Art lens is supposed to be made to cinema lens standards (whatever that means) and according to those guys over at LensRentals.com it's wicked sharp and has an MTF curve that would pop the pennies off a dead man's eyes. Gotta have it. It will go well with the featherweight Sigma 45mm f2.8 and will allow me to select middling primes in 5 mm increments. What could be more artistic? (Tuck as never heard of cropping!!!?).

For all those times that I want to travel without the massive density of the assorted primes I thought I might also like the new Panasonic 24-70mm f2.8 S Pro lens. I handled one recently and it's less than half the weight of the 50mm f1.4 and is right snappy when it comes to focusing and handling. Yeah, I know it seems a bit over the top. Especially since I already have the 24-105mm f4.0 kit lens and have found it to be really, really good. But what are you going to do? The Think Tank rolling case knows what it wants to coddle....

If you had a banner year and you're just splashing cash all over the place you could impress the hell out of me with the gift of a Leica SL 90mm Apo Summicron. Really, for as good as that lens is the folks at Leica are basically just giving them away. Sharp and imbued with enormous character it could be the "break through" lens I've been searching for (in vain) for all these many decades. It might help me unleash my (until now) hidden talent as a photographer. If that doesn't work it will still look good when I saunter into those ASMP meetings or dangle it over my shoulder at a Photo Expo. 
I'll probably leave the price tag on it just so people who don't know the brand will understand just how cool it is.....

Oh heck. If we're looking at getting me 90mm Summicrons from Leica we might as well just pull the Band-Aid right off and go for the sweet pairing of the Leica SL2 and the 50mm Apo Summicron. No. No, it is not possible to have too many 50mm lenses. Let it go. It's my fantasy. Maybe I'll sell some under-performing lens in the inventory to make room ---- but probably not.

I realize that $10K is a bit much to ask for but I'm sure a couple of you might want to pitch in together and make it happen. Just don't ask Belinda to contribute to the fund; I've already made that mistake...

So, Then reality kicks in and I tell you what I'm really looking for at Christmas: A new, winter swim cap. That's really about it. All I can handle right now. 

Anybody out there getting something great (camera or lens-wise) for the Holidays? It's the perfect time to rationalize raiding the retirement account... No. Really!