A concentrated test of the Panasonic Lumix S1R's capabilities as a black and white "Art" camera. Tested in conjunction with the Sigma 45mm f2.8 lens. Around Austin, Texas.

 I've been anxious to test the S1R as a black and white camera; you know, for those times when you want to feel like you have been swept back in time to the 1970's when you lived for Tri-X and D-76. I took the camera out for a two hour walk and set it up in a very particular way in order to get the kinds of photographs I thought I'd want. 

It was set to L. Monochrome D, which is a snappy black and white profile (three to choose from). I tweaked the contrast and sharpness parameters to taste. I set the filter effect to either Green or Orange, depending on the subject at hand. To keep things simple I used the 45mm Sigma lens because I've familiar enough at this point to guesstimate how it will render at my three favorite f-stops. 

After I came back to the studio I took all of the files (shot as Jpegs = no turning back) and processed the ones I liked in Luminar 4.2. There are some nice controls and it works pretty quickly. I think I can tweak my shooting settings a little more but I'm very happy with what I got. The next thing I'll try is reducing the noise reduction for the L. Monochrome D profile to introduce a bit more noise and a bit harsher sharpness into the files.

That's about it. Short and sweet. The test is the images, the words are secondary. Probably unnecessary. 

OT: Swim, Swim, Swim, Walk, Walk, Walk. It must be "Freestyle Friday." (Sorry, no discussions of magic speaker wire or miracle hydroxychlorquine today!)

For those of you unfamiliar with a swimming pool at six in the morning...

It's amazing to me to find that you can program your brain to wake up at a specific time; without an alarm clock! Good brain! Powerful brain! I've been signing up for the 6 a.m. swims (coached workouts) at the pool for the simple reason that these are the least popular times for most people and so I have been able to (selfishly) have a lane all to myself for an hour each morning. On a few mornings this week we've had up to six people in the pool for the 6 a.m. workout but that's okay because we've got seven lanes. 

Last night I set my iPhone to wake me at 5:30 a.m. I was up at 5:20 instead and already grabbing my towel and a multi-grain toaster waffle to munch on as I read the news feed on the dining room laptop. 

I was the first swimmer on the pool deck today, along with the coaches. Just before 6 two other swimmers showed up and we arranged ourselves into lanes with at least one empty lane in between. Our two coaches didn't bother to write the workout on the whiteboard; we were a manageable group and able to follow spoken workout "suggestions." I'd forgotten how wonderful it is to get a swim out of the way before you fully wake up. You get into a meditative rhythm and the whole workout is complete before you even realize you are tired. 

We're getting back into this whole competitive swim thing nice and slow. Today we did about 2,000 yards in a bit less than an hour. We're cutting five minutes off the normal length of time to make a safer transition for the next group at 7 a.m. In years past I would have tried to push the yardage but now I'm content to go slow and make progress-to-fitness a longer journey instead of a mad rush. At 64 years of experience recovery from two months off takes more time than it used to. It's not an aerobic hit but more muscle fatigue right now. But that will pass. 

It's a great time to work on technique. 

The swimming pool at 7 a.m.

When I got home I went into the office to sign up for all of the slots/time reservations for the workouts I wanted for next week. I've opted to continue doing the 6 a.m. routine. Maybe I'm subconsciously punishing myself for having been too lazy to find another swim venue for the last two months. Just not happy swimming in the lake...

After doing the online sign ups I headed into the house to make a large cup of organic Ethiopian Sidamo natural coffee. Love this stuff. Got another pound from Trianon Coffee just yesterday. Sadly, it won't be available again for several months --- seems the hoarders snapped up as much as they could.

With a travel cup in one hand I joined Belinda for an hour long walk through the hills around our neighborhood. Our usual route is about three miles and has four really nice, long hills. By 9 a.m. I felt like I'd had just enough exercise for the morning and came into the studio to start working on a video about two new lights I'm playing with. Don't worry, they're cheap lights. Barely more cost (per) than a one pound bag of great coffee.  And video seems a better tool for talking about these specific lights. 

It seems like all the other photo blogs are getting side tracked into discussions of stuff about which I have no interest so I felt like it was okay for me to do one more here about swimming. Arguably no more interesting than speaker wire but at least the exercise is good for people, is inexpensive or free, and makes for a healthier brain and better social bonds (said "Hi" to 14 good swim friends as they came in to do the next workout; said "Hi" to six or seven neighbor couples who were out walking in the neighborhood...) and gave me a chance to once more revel in having a partner who is so calm and sweet. We talked economics, home repair, and future vacation plans. All good. All happy. 

Favorite Netflix show of the week: Kim's Convenience. 

Feels like a pretty wonderful way, overall,  to spend time even as the world seems to be collapsing around us. 

Hope you have all the kinks worked out and have discovered new ways to be happy. Best, Kirk