For Better or Worse Austin, Texas Prepares for Re-Opening. But first, coffee.

My coffee. The way I've come to like it. = perfect.

Austin, Texas has been in a "stay at home" posture since the first day the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. By my reckoning that would have been on Friday the 13th of March. Which means that Belinda and I have been staying close to the house most of the time, walking in the neighborhood, respecting social distancing, wearing face masks in public for a bit over two months. We're okay with that. If it means giving health experts time to perfect treatment protocols that save people from dying and gives us some breathing space to find a cure then we'll gladly take the hits that come with that choice. But we don't speak for everyone...

Whether it's right or wrong it seems that the USA population, in general, is being pushed to get back to work and school in spite of whatever consequences might result. I get that we have a choice and that not everyone can afford the same choices. But I also get that some of the "back to work" posturing is purely political and might set us back a good bit. We might not be around to see the "right" answer finally presented but history will tell the tale to future generations.

I'm not here to make a political statement one way or another. I'm a liberal democrat but I have friends who are conservative republicans. Trying to make everything black and white is a fruitless exercise at best. Especially when there is so much that's truly unknown. People are wired differently and it would be great if we could all see past the political stuff and appreciate each person for their individual selves.

But one way or another we can all go out and document how it's affecting our communities. Rather than sit at home today and continue to work on a bit of marketing I chose to take a camera and go downtown to see what the pulse of the entertainment district looked like today. You'll remember that I was down a few weeks ago and everything was boarded up. Artists, as usual, were painting art over the plywood and particle board that covered the doors and windows of our historic bars and music halls. What would have changed from then to now?

The first tentative start up of the bar district has started. The panels are coming off the doors and windows. The less welcome graffiti is being scrubbed off. The sidewalks are being power washed. It feels like everyone's target is to open (soft or hard) around June 1st. I'm glad I got down there today because I wanted to take some higher res versions of my favorite temporary art. 

I used one of my Panasonic S1 cameras and one of the two Sigma 45mm f2.8 lenses I'm currently hoarding (hey, some people hoard toilet paper and hand sanitizer; I like lenses....which is crazier?) and set the camera for documentation mode. I like to use the camera in the flat profile and then add back contrast and saturation in post. Seems to work really well and does a good job of preserving highlights. 

It's already getting hot here in Texas and by the time I got back to my car it was already in the mid nineties. I got in the car and flicked on the air conditioning before checking my phone.

But you've already read about resumed swimming, right?  



Jeff said...

Until there is an effective vaccine or a treatment that can knock the death rate down to nothing it's a pretty simple but terrible choice- Money, including jobs and profits, vs lives.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Jeff. that's pretty much the only options on the table in the USA.

Anthony Bridges said...

Speaking of temporary art, that mural of Golden Age Wonder Woman you featured a few days ago rocked. The expressive face and comic character told a whole story.

Markus said...

There were some pretty amazing murals among those you showed, Kirk. What a pity that they will end in a landfill.

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to lockdown here being loosened a bit so I can see what the street art guys around here (Cardiff, Wales) are doing.

Still quite reserved and sleepy in my suburb - people social distancing, as many as can working from home (I think that demographically we've got more who can do that here in the city, lots of office workers)

And snap. My kitchen counter this morning looks much like yours.

Glad to have a steady supply of beans to carry me through.

Great Street art round your way. Thanks for the photos.


Greg Heins said...

OK, here's an idea. You know the Irving Penn group portraits made outdoors with his custom studio setup. Why not something like that for a while? You can get the setup right here from California Sunbounce: https://www.adorama.com/cf8888mxcs.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMImtPh-vS46QIVNfC1Ch3g6Aj6EAQYBSABEgLrxvD_BwE&gclid=EAIaIQobChMImtPh-vS46QIVNfC1Ch3g6Aj6EAQYBSABEgLrxvD_BwE&utm_source=adl-gbase
OR you can save a couple of grand, I'm sure, and do it yourself pretty easily. OR what kind of a garage do you have? Could you mount a background near the back, roll it down when you have a client, put her/him a foot or two into the garage opening and shoot with that nice broad light? Just thinking about something you can do if they ever can drag you out of the pool...

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Funny you should mention that for two reasons, Greg. First I was sitting in the living room looking through the Penn retrospective book which features many of those far flung, temporary studio shots. Second, I shot a portrait a few days ago of a friend who has also been sheltering in place, in the backyard with a 6x6 foot silk over head and darker, out of focus foliage in the background. Would have been easy as pie to drop in a background of choice there.

Thanks. KT

Keith said...

Speaking of coffee, since MJ over on TOP has sworn off coffee and no longer writes about it, maybe you could share your preferred methods and blends for "home brew" whenever you can't get out for a cup. I've been experimenting with the AreoPress lately with good results.