Yeah. The other stuff I shot with the S1H while I was out tooling around.

In a way my time spent downtown yesterday with a single camera and a 50mm, normal lens was a throwback to my early roots when I only had one camera and a 50mm to start with. How many things was I able to shoehorn into the frame with those limitations? More than you might think. 

At least, when you are walking around with a very limited kit you don't have to choose which other lens to pull out for this subject or which different lens to use for something else. You either make the lens at hand work or you pass up shooting said scene and move on and photograph things that fit in your "frame". If you have only one camera you shoot with it and make allowances for any weaknesses it may have.

This time out I was paying attention well enough that I could see the differences in camera processing between the S1H I was using in the moment and the Sigma fp I'd been using earlier in the week. But the two cameras also influenced how I was shooting. With the Sigma fp and the 45mm lens, with its f2.8 maximum aperture, and a small screen on the back for focusing and composing I found myself not trying to constrain images into exercises aimed at creating ever more narrow depth of field. I was happy to shoot at f8 or f11, but that was also a result of shooting in brighter light. With a lens like the 50mm f1.4 you subconsciously really want to see for yourself if the maximum aperture you paid dearly for is really as good at resolving and being sharp as it's promoted to be. 

I learned from both experiences. With the Sigma fp + 45mm at f11 I learned just how amazingly sharp an image out of the new generation of camera could be. Once you head toward the conservative side of the aperture ring all the "good" lenses you've collected become great image makers. In some cases, with no added sharpening stuff like letters on signage seemed almost laser etched. I filed those capabilities away in my head for future projects. The same attributes surfaced last Sunday evening when I shot some trial video on the Sigma fp and used the same lens at f11. Depth of field with moving subjects in a dark but also patchily spotlit environment were a revelation to someone used to shooting video with lenses much closer to wide open. 

But the secret for video shooters with cameras like the fp is that they are low light monsters. Very capable of shooting well above 6400 with little noise impact on the files. 

When I shot with the S1H and the fast 50mm I was reminded that shooting at wide open apertures is most rewarding when the lens is more than acceptably sharp, at least in the middle two-thirds of the frame, when used there. The S1H was capable of giving me files that looked appropriate even at f1.4. And I was reminded once again of how little depth of field there really is when you are shooting close and with a fast aperture. You needn't lust for fast 85mms or fast 105mms to get the universal, zero depth of field look. If you are wide open with a 50mm and within five feet of your subject you're going to be amazed at how few things are really in focus. 

On another note... I share images with you here in a different way than I do with clients. I don't consider this to be a portfolio site and I'm not trying, here, to make one perfect shot of an idea or a scene I've found and then move on forever from that photograph. Instead, I'm sharing my process with you. And just as I do with people I find interesting and beautiful I might visit an idea or a tableau I find fun or captivating or a good companion for written text, again and again. 

That's the case with the image below. A dinner jacket and bow tie on a mannequin against a red, velvet curtain in a shop window. I love the contrast, color and nod to a more elegant social time. I've shot this in black and white, in the middle of the night with the illumination coming totally from the display lighting and again yesterday with a mix of late afternoon light and the lights inside the window. Eventually, they'll change the display and I won't get to practice seeing in this way again. The store owners might display something equally fun or it might be something that doesn't resonate with me at all but until then I'm going to drop by and practice (almost like playing scales on the piano) until I get it perfect. And as we all know that will probably be never. But then again for Weston to label his famous "Pepper" shot "Pepper Number 30" you have to know that he tried at least 29 previous shots before he got what he wanted. 

The secret to all work in a creative career is to keep changing and experimenting. Someone who has mastered a technique or vision in a year and then does the same vision for the next 20 years hasn't garnered 20 years of experience and reinforced talent. They've just lived through the same first year twenty times. 

Don't begrudge older photographers their experience; it's all they have. And some of it is valuable. 

I keep working on this one. The more subtle the effect becomes the better I like it.

I find this one hilarious.

 I was surprised to walk by this bar on Congress Ave. and see this sign. The bar association has tried everything to stay wide open. They even passed a law in Texas exempting restaurants from closing when the state closed down bars which declared bars TO BE restaurants as long as over 50% of revenue came from food. The bars rushed to sell wings, queso and chips and anything else they could to their customers.

I guess with the arrival of a vaccine the bar owners realized that getting more people vaccinated means more people back through their doors. Enlightened self-interest. 

The S1H handles the color red very, very well. Maybe the lens has something to do with that as well.

folding "Coke" chair at a new, South American café.


An afternoon with a decidedly inappropriate camera and lens for street photography. Too big. Too heavy. But I got to watch a big production, car photo shoot...

A large scale photo session for a Chevy SUV.
I'd never seen a bigger crane arm attached to an automobile before. 

I was feeling a bit glum most of last week but usually a nice long walk with a camera helps to clear my head and adjust my attitude. After my swim today I feel chipper and optimistic. Funny how that all works. But yesterday, with my head in the fog I selected the least appropriate lens and camera body to drag along through the streets of my home town. It was the Panasonic S1H and the 50mm f1.4 Lumix S-Pro. If ever you feel untethered from gravity this combination will hold you down tight to the firmament. 

Don't get me wrong; the S1H is a wonderful production camera and, I think, the state of the art for video cameras designed for professional quality/state of the art video in small crew,  commercial environment. I absolutely love working with this camera when I have it snugged onto a good tripod and plugged into a range of supporting peripherals. I find the 50mm f1.4 lens to be the sharpest lens with the cleanest and most transparent output of any lens I have ever used - even across all formats. 

But carrying the combination around, over one's shoulder, with a shoulder strap, is an exercise in masochism. And this opinion is coming from a photographer who used to carry around a Hasselblad with a medium format Zeiss lens on it through the streets of many cities for hours and days at a time. The S1H + 50mm S-Pro just isn't at all comfortable for easy and casual photo walks. I'll take it along on days when I have a mission in mind and need its special attributes, and I'll take in on just about any kind of commercial job I can imagine, but as a fun camera for leisure walking and snapping? Ahhhh. NO. 

Before I move on to the story about car shooting I will say that of all three of the S1x model cameras I think the S1H has the best out of camera color and tonality in the files. Even the Jpegs are crisper and richer. I can only conjecture that this camera has faster processing, or more nodes for parallel processing, and so is engineered to apply more complex corrections to each file as they fly through the camera's processing pipeline. I'm sure Panasonic would demure from confirming this because of the torrent of feedback they would no doubt get from S1 and S1R owners but I own all three models and find a small but notable difference between the S1H and its siblings. No data to back this up but that has never stopped us before. 

Car Shoot. I don't often work in big teams and I have never, ever had to do a high end shoot where the car was the star, but I'm always amazed when I see an "old school" photography production in full bloom in this day and age. I ran into just such a shoot around sunset on the "Butterfly" bridge that connects downtown proper to the area around the library. I've posted countless images of the curved, yellow spans here on the blog so I'm sure you'll remember it. 

I knew I was heading into a big time photo zone when I came to the intersection just to the east of the bridge and found it blocked off. I knew it was a legit project because there was an off duty police officer manning the blocked street and a set of orange cones set to restrict access. Pedestrians, however, were unconstrained. 

On the outsides of the curved spans are sidewalks while the two lane road runs between the spans. The sidewalk with the sunset in the background was blocked both for this shoot and because of some adjacent building construction but the north side walk was accessible.  

As I crossed the bridge I saw ten or twelve people clustered around a Chevrolet SUV and was immediately struck by the insanely long crane arm that was anchored to the right side of the vehicle and extended across the front and about eight to ten feet past the left side of the truck-ette. It was a large, square arm made, I'm sure, of lightweight aluminum and as you can see in the photo just above it has a right angle connection to the car over on the far side. At that junction point a technician can raise or lower the angle of the arm to give the camera at the far end of the arm the ability to shoot at a low angle or a high angle --- or any angle in between. The crane arm is also assembled in spans so the crew can make the main arm longer or shorter. 

more below

There were a couple of guys whose job it seemed to be to fluff the actual product. Between takes they'd get to the car and dust it or shine the edges or clean some part. When they were done they'd hand the set back over to the art director and photography crew. I presume at some point they took

Back in control. Back in the pool. Back to stasis.


flower pots in a Roman window.

The alarm clock on my phone went off at 7:15 this morning and I finally grappled with the age old battle between comfortable sloth and dutiful discipline. I dragged myself out of a warm bed on a cold, foggy morning, drank a cup of instant coffee with gobs of milk and then, with a bit of hesitation thrown into the mix, finally got myself to swim practice. I've been out of the pool for nearly two weeks and my first inclination, fostered by fear and uncertainty (how quickly do 65 year olds lose their edge? how slowly and carefully should I embrace re-entry?) was to demote myself to a slower lane and take a lackadaisical approach to the first, post operative workout.

But almost predictably true to course I decided that if I was in for a penny I was in for a pound and I chose to swim in one of the faster lanes with two younger swimmers who have a propensity for going fast and hard. Even on my best days I could never match their performance. I'd love to say that today was exceptional and I drove my young lane mates hard but that would be a lie. Fake swim news. 

I did swim all the sets on their intervals and I made each repeat on the interval, but just by the skin of my teeth. Still, it felt great to hang with the fast folks and to return to a pursuit in which I've been able to delude myself into believing that it's something over which I have complete control. 

It was foggy and cool outside and everyone seemed to be in a good mood. I had negotiated a quick return to the pool with my surgeon on the proviso that I wear a waterproof bandage over my incision site. The waterproof bandages actually work! No leaks. 

The hardest part of the workout was a set of ten 75 yard swims. We started out doing two on a 1:15 interval then two on 1:10 (these were to be any stroke but freestyle-I chose backstroke) then two on 1:05 and then two on 1:00. The last two were snappy and I'll admit that I got my pulse rate a bit above 130 and was out of breath for a minute or two at the completion of the set. The rest of the workout was moderately hard but not outside my normal comfort zone. 

With a successful swim under my belt I felt, mentally, that all the jigsaw pieces of my regular life were falling back into place.

I'm signed up for a full roster of workouts in the week to come and anticipate that as I get back into good shape there will be naps galore.

It's not as though I've been inactive since the day after my medical procedure. I've tried to walk five or six miles a day. Once with a friend, or Belinda, and a second time with an amiable camera in my hands. It's just that swimming hard is a whole different adventure. Don't worry, I won't dwell on swim posts, or snooker tables, too much in the next week or so. We've got other things to cover.

Hope you are all happy and well and continuing to move. -Kirk