There are boring cameras and great cameras and, every once in a while, truly eccentric cameras. I seem to like the eccentric ones best.

This is a photo of a Sigma fp, coupled to a Panasonic 20-60mm, sitting 
on the passenger seat of my vehicle, waiting impatiently for a walk across 
the UT campus.

One thing to know about the Sigma fp is that, when used in the Jpeg mode, it may be the lowest noise 24 megapixel camera ever tossed onto the market. In the early days of ownership I was disappointed with the digital image stabilization offered by the camera. I got some ghosting that I didn't want and the camera took time between frames to process. It slowed me down without delivering a whole lot extra. 

That's when I started experimenting with higher ISO settings and ultimately set up my Auto-ISO to chose a low shutter speed of 1/125th of second but a high ISO of 25,000. Now, when confronted by a low light situation I know I can handhold most of the lenses I'd use with this camera at 1/125th of a second and I'm getting more and more comfortable with the camera ranging around in the ISO playpen anywhere from 100 to at least 10,000. If I'm shooting Jpegs they all turn out sharp and detailed but at the same time displaying the kind of noise I used to get with pre-2010 cameras at ISOs like 200-400. It's very liberating.

The camera also has some unique aspect ratios in addition to the more or less standard selection of 3:2, 16:9, 1:1, 4:3 and so on. One aspect ratio that appeals is 7:6. It's a bit boxy but not full on square. It's stodgy and conservative, but in a good way. It's for all those times when you think you should be shooting in the square format but just wish you could get a bit more image on the sides. There's also 21:9 but it gets far less use from me...

Today turned cloudy and a bit cold. Tomorrow it's supposed to rain all morning and then snow all afternoon. The snow probably won't stick since the low temperature forecast for tomorrow is something like 36°. (That's like minus 6000 in euro-temps). Not cold enough to freeze but not warm enough to run around in shorts and sandals. 

But anyway, since it's going to be mucky tomorrow I thought I'd take a late afternoon/early evening walk and snap some images with the Sigma+Panasonic combination before dinner. I've been downtown too much lately so I thought I'd change venues and head over the the University of Texas at Austin campus where I spent some of the most fun years of my life. Both as a student and then on the faculty. I haven't been back as much as I should so a lot of the buildings I saw today are new to me. But the overall effect, with the students still out for the break, is of a quiet and well groomed campus that's blended old and new with grace; mostly. 

I really have come to appreciate the Sigma fp. It's small and light. Very discreet. Very noise free and impervious to overheating (although I have yet to test it in a 350° oven...). It's so funky but at the same time it's as endearing as an ardent, affectionate, three-legged dog. I'm never happy leaving it behind. And it also makes nice video. Complicated to set up, but still,  nice video. 

I'm happy with the straight out of camera performance 
of the monochrome profile. A little tweak in contrast and I'm happy. 

and right across the main street ("the Drag") there is an endless collection 
of shops, bars, and targets for graffiti of all kinds. 


Little web gifts. Here's a quiet, understated vlog that I like a lot. And I'll tell you why...


It's a channel by Matti Sulanto. He's a Finnish photographer who is also a Lumix Ambassador. That means he shoots with a lot of Panasonic gear and also reviews it on his site. I like that.

But what I really like about his channel on YouTube are the videos he does of his "photo walks." On many of them he takes only one camera and one lens and, in between shooting and showing images he's taking, he talks through his own process for both finding subjects to photograph and working within the constraints of the gear he decided to bring along. More "how" than "what gear?"

While he is a Lumix ambassador there is never a hard "sell" for the equipment. The discussions are always centered on what he uses the gear for, how he chooses his gear, and the end results. 

The nice production value and lack of hysterical video trash make an engagement with Matti's V-Log feel more like you were sitting down in his living room discussing some fun, new gear over coffee. Or like you had decided to go for a stroll with Matti and find out how he takes the images he does. 

I keep being guided to comfortable photography sites by friends and blog readers here. These eight-to-ten minute programs are a welcome break from bad news and relentless merchandizing. 

Please check out Matti Sulanto's YouTube offerings. Today's video takes place on a cold and snowy day in his part of the world. It's best enjoyed along with a warm cup of coffee and light pastry. 

For more info on Matti here is his website: https://sulanto.fi

One more thing....I really like his accent.

More fun sites discoveries to come!

Photographing with the Fuji X-100 V again. It's such a pleasure to walk with.

B. at the museum.

One thing that I thought I would miss when using the Fuji X-100V was image stabilization. Surprisingly, I don't. I'm letting the camera range through the ISOs instead and keeping the minimum shutter speed at 1/60th of a second. Seems I have no problem hand-holding the camera well enough at that shutter speed and so far none of my images have been compromised by camera shake. It's interesting because we've come to believe that image stabilization is so critical. I'll admit that it's almost mandatory for me when using longer lenses but shorter focal lengths seem to have a quantum of immunity from the effects of camera shake.

I didn't realize how much I missed working with a small, discreet and non-confrontational camera; especially one in consumer happy chrome finish instead of sneaky-stealth, black finish. The camera and lens are capable of high sharpness when used wide open at most distances. I haven't done too many shots within three feet of the camera but I've found that if I get close and stop down to about f2.8 the sharpness continues right on through. 

Yesterday we took a break from the political madness and spent the morning at the Blanton Museum. It's open but you have to sign up for a slot. You are only time limited by their closure from 12-1pm. Come at 10 a.m. and you'll have the run of the place till noon. Come at 1 p.m. and you'll have access to the full facility until closing time. It's nice to look at beautiful art as an antidote for contemporary anxiety. I find the abstract expression show in the main gallery particularly soothing. 

Bare trees at Barton Springs Pool parking lot.

This morning I decided to break with tradition, skip my usual morning swim workout, and head out for an extended walk. I wanted to spend more time getting up to speed with the Fuji X-100V. I have one thing I haven't been able to figure out just yet. If I select "S" setting for focus and "still image" on the drive mode, with the review off, the camera blacks out until it writes the frame I just shot and locks me out of rapidly shooting another one. But when I was in the "classic chrome" profile I could shoot in the normal way, pounding out two or three frames without black out. It seemed like it was only in the "standard" mode that the camera became so deliberative and slow. Any ideas?

Barton Springs Pool was closed for most of last year. 
It's life affirming to see lap swimmers enjoying the cool, clear water
in the middle of the winter. More like this...

The trail is not really closed. It's only the eroding bank that's off limits. 
I guess they only have a small variety of signs available. 
That's okay. It's all pretty obvious.

the camera is downright spiffy for big building shots. 
When I punch in the detail is pretty nice. Rivals my bigger cameras and it's so much
fun to carry around. You won't wreck a shoulder with this one.

I love how considerate some drivers can be. Stopping behind the crosswalk is an appropriate 
and polite gesture. It always makes me happy when my rights are upheld and
we all get to happily share the public space.

Some drivers are not so kind. They position their cars right in the middle 
of the pedestrian cross walk while waiting for the light to change 
at a four way intersection. I like to think they are just being absent-minded but
I really think drivers who routinely do this are mostly just being assholes.

I guess, in the long term the messaging might be accurate, a lifetime spent drinking lots of wine 
might have you ending up in heaven but I think you might be accelerating the process 
if you drink wine to excess. Nice to see God. But maybe just for a quick visit while
taking care of business in the here and now. Time for a good, long, chatty conversation 
later. Much later. 

The single ugliest pair of trousers I have ever seen.
And I lived through the 60's and 70's. 
Just ghastly....

That's a nice Ellsworth Kelly painting on the right hand side of the frame. 
See how crowded the museum was yesterday? It was a wonderful time
to visit. I could sit on that bench and look at the Kelly painting for 
a good long while and not get bored.

All with the chrome finished X-100V.