Kirk Changes Camera Systems (AGAIN!!!) but without selling anything off. "You mean this is actually a mobile telephone too?"

Another day with an empty downtown. Might be the safest place to 
walk in all of Austin, Texas. 

On Wednesday I found out about the Adobe "Photo Shop Camera" app for the iPhone and downloaded it. I played around with the goofy filters and posted a few things to Instagram and then I got tired of it. But yesterday, when I decided to go for a walk I thought long and hard about cameras I could bring along. 

I had just downloaded the firmware update for the Sigma fp so that might have been a logical choice there hasn't been enough time to play with the new upgrades so I took that one off the list. I'd been mulling over trying out the video in the G9 now that its firmware has also been updated so I took that camera, along with the Panasonic/Leica 12-60mm lens and a variable neutral density filter. My brain designated that camera as a "video" camera so when I got to the bridge there was some inertia that led me to hesitate putting it back into "photo" mode just to get a quick shot of downtown. A shot I've made many times before. 

Instead I just grabbed my iPhone. It's an XR. It has one lens. And it's a wide angle one at that. But it's quick and easy to use and the automatic HDR capabilities are really great. The XR makes sunlit landscape shots that have wonderful tones and colors. And they never get too contrasty. But I do want to emphasize that these were all done with the native "Photo" app and to the new Adobe one. 

After I took and evaluated my first shot (above) I was hooked. The G9 hung by my side for the rest of the early evening walk and I embraced the XR as my sole photography device for the rest of the time. 
It was the right day/time for it; the clouds were being dramatic and expressive and I preferred to break the shooting into two distinct parts. I would select the subjects and compositions and I would let the camera do all the grunt work of getting exposure, color balance and focus right. A nice division of labor. 

When I got home I looked at all the photos on the phone and started pulling them, mostly untouched by the heavy hands of post production, into this blog post. Now that I've seen for myself how good the camera in the XR is I'm using it more and more when I need wide/fast shots, and when the end product will be shared on the web. It's easier to get the right tonal balance with contrasty landscapes than it is with a conventional camera like the G9 or S1, mostly because I would have to spend time and energy trying to get everything just right after the shoot. With the iPhone I can just depend on the results of a couple hundred scientists with Phd.'s working their butts off at Apple to make just the right algorithms and machine brainiac-ism to make sure the little machine gets a higher hit ratio than I would. 

So, in a sense, I've done my instant conversion to a new system. My phone. But in this case no other cameras were sold off and nothing new was purchased. In fact, the total cost was the half hour I finally spent figuring out the camera software on the phone. But be forewarned, I will be diving into the latest and most advanced iPhone I can find as soon as it is announced and available. These cameras are great. 

And the black and white conversions are......perfect. 

Masked for the walk in open air. Trader Joe's Grapefruit and Lemon spray hand sanitizer in my pocket. 

"Bat" bridge in the background...

Blog Note: Please don't advise me that a Samsung or Google phone has a better camera. I won't believe that Fake News and I've drunk so much of the Apple Kool-Aide that all my dress shirts are stained and my teeth are Apple colored. 

Thoughts about life, photography and walking around aimlessly in the heart of Texas. During a pandemic...

When I dragged myself out of bed at 5:15 this morning it was dark outside. By the time I got moving up the driveway the first light was just mumbling and shuffling over to the east and then I could see a fine sprinkling of dust across the car's windshield. Swim practice got off to a goofy start. Most coaches arrive, swing the big wooden door to the club open and then wander off to turn on lights and unlock the guard room. That's where the club keeps their digital (I.R.) thermometer. The thermometer with which the coaches now test every swimmer with before allowing them into practice.

The open door tells the swimmers, who start to arrive around 5:55, that the coach is on the premises and it's time to come in and get ready for the workout. Today coach Will got to the club early, went in and let the big door close behind him. We arrived and seeing the door closed (but unlocked!) we dutifully waited in the parking lot. After five minutes or so someone walked over and tried the door. We were collectively embarrassed by our own passivity.  We came into the swimming pool compound and rushed to make up for lost time.

Yes. I wore my face mask from the car to the side of the pool. Austin, and the rest of Texas, are seeing exponential increases in Covid-19 cases and health authorities warn we are about to exceed the capacity of our ICU's.

I saw a clever post on Instagram yesterday. It read:

"Wearing a mask is NOT a political statement. It's an I.Q. Test." 

Even with a late start the group was able to knock out about 2400 yards. A bit short of our usual target of 3200 but then nobody is perfect...

It was a beautiful morning when the sun came up. There was just enough Saharan dust to take the hard edge off the sunshine. I got home in time to walk with Belinda through the surrounding hills for an hour so I've had my quota of exercise for the day. And it's a good thing I got an early start because now it's pouring down rain. From Saharan Dust Storm to aggressive rain showers in the space of 15 minutes. So much meteorological fun here.

I posted the video above just for fun. I was playing with my phone yesterday as I walked. Later, when I thought back about my late afternoon walk through the central core of downtown, I decided that the epicenter of Austin was probably the safest place in which to walk for exercise. I passed maybe 12 or 15 people, total, on the sidewalks as I strolled through. Like me, most of them were masked.

Walking is a good time for reflection. We've been staying home and shying away from most aspects of business since near the first of March. I thought we were starting to see the virus getting under control but then came the news of spikes all over the South and Western USA. Kind of hard to believe that we, as a country, constitute only 7% of the world's populations but have managed to contract over 25% of the confirmed cases of Covid-19. It's an indictment of our cultural proclivity to be selfish to an abnormal degree.

What I'm coming to realize is that we might not go back to work for our regular clients, doing photography the way I've always enjoyed it, for the rest of 2020. Certainly, large events are off the table, and so are projects that require air travel.

But a business is not something you can toss into the deep freeze and then pull out and thaw and expect it to spring back to life. There is a constant erosion that goes on when the "store" goes black. Clients find other content.  New suppliers who are more desperate rush to take risks that more financially strong vendors don't want to accept. A high number of former clients choose to leave the workforce or are forced to change to other jobs; jobs which might not entail the hiring of photographers at all.

So here I am in my office in Westlake Hills (a suburb of Austin proper) surrounded by miraculous toys and sturdy gear with no pathway to effect their use. I've just downloaded the latest firmware for the Sigma fp but have no one to stand in front of the camera while I shoot video. I've just paid for another quarter of liability and general insurance for the business but have no venue in which to screw up and create liability.

Sure, there will be small projects. Next week I'll photograph (carefully) another radiologist in my studio. But the big, sustaining projects like annual reports, capabilities brochures and advertising campaigns remain on hold. The vital ones being done by in-house marketing people wielding cellphones as video cameras and snapping away with the company Canon Rebel someone in their public relations department bought a few years back.

I'm shelving my plans to re-open in the near future. We'll see how things look around here in September. But even then we'll be working with a reduced palette of job types. Realistically the first green shoots of business will probably come next Spring.

With all that having been said, I am still looking forward to every little personal project I can think of. I'm still impressed by the quality and functionality of the Panasonic S system. I still adore the Sigma fp even though I'm frustrated at not being able to hire models and shoot fun stuff with it. And I'm getting to the professional, platinum level when it comes to taking near perfect naps in the afternoon.

Belinda admonishes me to stop worrying about the business and figure out what I would do if I had all the time and money I ever wanted. And I do reflect on that. But sadly, the answer is that I'd love to be out photographing.

Hope that vaccine hits the market soon. Hope it works. Hope there is also an effective treatment about to be launched. I'd like to be out on the road again soon.

All good here though. Just watching the rain and typing. Time to break for a coffee. Thanks for reading.