3.07.2021

West Texas Beckons.

West of everything...

I find everything about this image to be funny. It's funny that the Works Project Administration built this road side, rest stop/camping shelter out in the middle of nowhere all the way back in the 1930's when there wasn't a major highway within a hundred miles of this plot of land. It's funnier still that I was driving around aimlessly on roads that shifted from partially paved to partially graveled just looking for interesting stuff to stare at. 

It's funny, to me, that I was most attracted at the time to the character of the sky and little else in the frame.

It's funny that 2010 was a year when giant DSLR cameras still ruled the photograph scene. Big zoom lenses and fat bodies with ever growing sensors. But I chose to take only two cameras along with me on my road trip that time. My main camera was the brand new Olympus EP-2 and the other was a less expensive EPL-1 that I bought a few months earlier as a  back up to the svelte EP-2. I bought into that little mirrorless system for three reasons. The first reason was that I finally had a camera system that I could use with the old Pen-FT lenses from the half frame system. The second was the introduction of the VF electronic viewfinder which allowed me to easily (and happily) use the camera at eye level. And third, I could set the camera to shoot squares and I could see the 1:1 composition in the EVF. For a camera with only 12.3 megapixels it punched way above its weight for me.

I'm just recently being re-attracted to the idea of revisiting West Texas once again. The epicenter for a lot of people is the little, haute town of Marfa, but for me I think Marathon, Texas is a great base. Smaller but with so much landscape everywhere. Might be time to saddle up the Subaru and take a drive. 

How different the camera market is now. Today the DSLR is the odd man out while mirrorless cameras with EVFs strut around in prominence. Wouldn't have believed it back then. It seemed like camera makers had a long way to go before they could turn the tide and really appeal to the old farts who were legendary for bemoaning the loss of mirrors and pentaprism finders. I still hear the refrain as though it was yesterday, "I'll never use an EVF. They'll never replace an "optical" viewfinder!!!" Same guys are now crowing about the fine finders in their Sonys. The world is a funny place. West Texas can be even funnier. 
 

3.06.2021

An interesting afternoon in which I walked around with a new (to me) zoom lens and took a lot of images. Mirrorless actually means "endless adaptations."

Leica R series 28-70mm f3.5 to 4.5 zoom lens
mounted on a Panasonic S1 camera.

Leica made a whole series of SLR cameras called the "R" series, starting in the 1960s and running up to the turn of the century. Most were well built although some were re-badged Minolta cameras and a few were prone to reliability problems that could be traced back to the electronics. From the beginning they made a number of lenses for the "R" series that were very good in their day. A few were "just okay" by Leica standards but were still excellent by anyone else's measure. Many R lenses are still highly coveted for their optical character and performance.

The company discontinued their R line completely in early 2009. They faced a choice between allocating thin financial resources either to continue the analog film SLRs or to go "all in" with digital versions of their rangefinder cameras. The R9 was their last SLR film camera and when it was discontinued a big fan base of R series fans where left with large collections of very, very good lenses and nothing new to put them on. Leica did produce an R to M series adapter but putting big and heavy lenses, designed for SLRs, onto the svelte rangefinders wasn't such an elegant solution. 

As the market for mirrorless cameras grew from 2009 to the present the shorter flange-to-sensor plane construction of the newer cameras allowed for the adaptation of many "orphaned" lenses from various older film systems. This revived the used market for Leica R series lenses as photographers could now adapt them to the Sony A7 series cameras, all of the micro-four thirds cameras, and each successive generation of mirrorless cameras from other makers, like Nikon and Canon. 

In 2015 Leica launched their own mirrorless camera; the SL. It also had a short flange-to-sensor gap which allowed the SL to use (with one or two exceptions) all the lenses in the R system; all the way back to the mid-1960s. When Leica introduced their new flagship mirror-free camera, the SL2, in 2019 it was immediately backwardly compatible with most of the R lenses and both Leica and Novoflex already had R to L lens adapters to make grafting the old lenses onto the new cameras easy. 

I bought a Leica SL2 last month and it's been mostly a great camera to work with. I'd already bought a couple of adapters that let me use older lenses on the Lumix S1 series cameras and, of course, the same adapters worked on the SL2. I bought a couple of adapters for Contax Y/C Zeiss lenses and a couple for R to L conversion as well. Last week I put my older (1983) R 90mm f2.8 Elmarit lens on the SL2 camera and I was curious why I couldn't find a way to set the focal length for the lens for IBIS as I could on the S1 Lumix cameras. After looking around in the menus for a few minutes I came across a sub menu that allows one to set a profile for a very large number of M or R lenses which, I assume, gives the camera's brain a lot of valuable information about the lens currently attached and aids in making various corrections which improve optical quality. I went through the menu and found a setting specifically for the R series 90mm Elmarit and set it. 

The images from that day's experiments showed me that the 90mm Elmarit was a really good lens and that it left little on the table when compared to current lenses from other manufacturers. The extensive catalog of Leica legacy lens profiles pre-loaded on the camera was a pleasant surprise and adds value to the SL2 for people who might still have a bag full of lenses from the R system (or the M system for that matter). 

Later on, just after the snow all melted from our "Ice-apocalypse" I happened to be sitting in the office waiting for a call when I started surfing around on Precision Camera's hit-and-miss website. I came across a listing for a "good" condition Leica R series zoom lens. It was a 28-70mm f3.5-4.5 lens, a focal length range that's always welcome, so I called my "guy" at the store and asked him to hold the lens for me. 

In the interim between requesting the hold and finally getting around to visit my research informed me that Leica started making this lens in 1990 and it was discontinued in 1997. The lens was a mechanical redesign of a Sigma zoom lens made during that time. Meaning that Leica had control over how the exterior of the lens looked and worked but the actual construction and the optics were all in the hands of Sigma. There is conjecture that Leica specified the multi-coatings on the lens but that's not verified. Sigma made the optical elements and was responsible for the optical design for the lens throughout its life but at one point the lens was updated to have electrical connections to the R8 camera and the lens was then called a ROM version. The consensus of Leica geeks is that the mechanics of this version were improved and this version of the lens was built by Kyocera but the actual optical system continued to be sourced from Sigma.

The lens was discontinued when Leica came to market with a much improved, new lens (still built in Japan) which was the 28-90mm R lens. Optical and mechanical designs by Leica but still made in Japan. This is a lens that is still highly sought after by collectors. 

My research into the reviews of the period for the 28-70mm Vario Elmar R suggest that it matches up with the expected lens performance across manufacturers at the time. It's basically always sharp in the center but the sharpness tends to fall apart in the extreme corners; even if you valiantly stop down. If you use the lens around f5.6 to f8.0 you can expect really good, overall sharpness from the lens, and it does seem to deliver high contrast results. Where the lens absolutely falls apart is in geometric distortion. There is wild (5-7%) barrel distortion on the wide end of the focal length range and then nearly as bad pincushion distortion at the long end. 

So I went into the purchase with my eyes wide open. I wanted to play with the lens and my consistent prejudice is that most people didn't know how to focus well back in that period (and the R series were all manual focus cameras) and that the sloppiness of film and developing/printing,  and the variability of film plane channels in cameras all gave rise to an obscuring of most lens' actual or potential performance. I've found, for instance, that Contax Zeiss lenses from the same period, when focused in a mirrorless camera, punched in with magnification at 8X or 16X times, are magnificently sharp; some even when used wide open (the Contax 50mm f1.7). Being able to focus at high magnification has also given me much new respect for older wide angles such as the Contax Zeiss 28mm f2.8. It's blossomed into a super sharp lens, as far as I can tell. 

My presumption was (and still is) that the Vario Elmar would have some faults but that the combination of punched in manual focusing, along with focus peaking, and image stabilization, matched with a super sharp, high resolution sensor, would unlock more of the potential lurking in an older lens such as this one. As far as distortion goes I never thought much about using the 28-70mm R for serious architecture and most of the distortion is uniform enough to be easily corrected in post production software. The wild cards would be how the coating on the rear most element would deal with reflections of light back off the sensor and how well the lens was designed to be more tele centric (it wasn't). Reflection artifacts show up from time to time...

I paid $350 dollars for the lens which is in pretty nice physical condition and has optics that are perfectly clean, unblemished and unscratched. The one issue (and it's one mentioned often in user reports of this lens) is that the telescopic hood is very loose and won't stay in position. I have it gaffer-taped into its recessed position and so now I just ignore it altogether. 

Yesterday, after I brought the lens home and modified the hood with tape I set the actual lens model profile in the menu of the SL2 and headed into town to shoot a bunch of frames and see how I liked the lens. The images that follow, below, are from that one and a half hour first run. I gleaned a lot of information from them in the first hour or so of post production. 

My take? The lens is flawed in little ways but if I were a struggling beginner I could certainly do a lot of good work with this one. If you are shooting wide and doing it for a commercial client you should always take a step backwards after you compose and resign yourself to cropping the extreme corners out of the frame before you deliver it to the people who write checks. This is mostly a caveat for people who might tend to spend a lot of their time dialed in at 28mm. 

For general work in bright light the lens can be quite good. I kept the camera locked in at f5.6 unless I felt like I needed more depth of field for certain subjects. The results from the lens are  sharp, contrasty and it has good resolution at nearly all focal lengths (if you discount the corners at the wide end). I tried to use the lens the way I usually use standard zooms and that means mostly shooting around 35mm to 60mm. In that range, at f5.6 I feel as though I'm getting the same excellent optical performance I would out of a really good prime lens at those focal lengths. It's really a very friendly, middle of the range shooter. 

There was one disquieting thing I did discover on my maiden jaunt and that is that the (very expensive) R to L converter from Novoflex, in conjunction with this lens, is unable to focus all the way to infinity. There is a mismatch somewhere in the mechanical system. It's not grievous as the combination is able to focus out hundreds of yards --- just not all the way to infinity. I'll give the cheaper Fotasy brand adapter a chance to outshine the Novoflex next time I go out. That's an easier fix than finding out that it's all up to the lens and that the rear flange needs to be adjusted. For the record, all the L lenses I own, used without adapters, are well able to hit infinity so I'm letting the camera itself off the hook. 

As a portrait oriented shooter who mostly pays attention to stuff in the middle of the frame I'll go ahead and say that I'm happy with the lens as a banging around addition to the lens crew. I wish I'd been able to source a Leica 28-90mm for the same price but those seem to fetch upwards of $3,000 when in very good condition. The one standout performance feature is the lens' resistance to flare and veiling light. There is one image in the bunch below where the lens is aimed right into reflective glass for a bright reflection of the sun and the flare is negligible. If I really want top quality, neutral optical performance in a wide ranging zoom I think I'll still give preference to the 24-105mm Lumix lens. It's pretty superb all around. Stuff changes. Check out the images and see what you think...


so we've got a guy sitting in the hatchback/trunk of some spiffy Mercedes and 
he's shooting video with a Canon 1DX of his friend's shiny red Ferrari.
I guess it's a new, downtown thing. So many car commercials shot on the bridges here.
I'm thinking this was just playing around. No cleaning crew in sight. 


full into a glass/sun reflection and all I can see is a little red discoloration in the sky area just to the right side of the reflection area. Not bad performance for flare resistance. 

Even cropped to less than 1/4 of the original frame this image is still full of detail. 
The photographer had some sort of Canon on one strap and a Contax 
Medium Format film camera on the other. This felt like more of an 
editorial shoot than a personal commission...

Yes, the lens can do a relative close up. Lambert's bar and BBQ on 2nd. 

would not be an afternoon of photography in the downtown area without 
one of my trademark mirror shots. Bitch all you want; I'm not paying attention. 





Felt kinda dumb wearing my rock climbing shoes on flat earth. 
they were just screaming to get out of the closet and outside. 
I'll take them along to Enchanted Rock next time.






You're so lucky! You got two mirror shots and no diet advice today!








End of the walk. Back to the parking. Heading home at dusk.

 

Keeping things square. Another photograph of a favorite collaborator.

 


We both laughed when we saw the final image of this pose. I think it's over the top cliché and thankfully so did she. But when it surfaced in a computer cleaning this week I looked at it again but from a different perspective; one of just being able to let go on any given day and have fun. 

But the interesting thing about photographing people is that you go out with a plan in mind and your plan ends up being pure crap but all the stuff you shot on the way there and all the stuff you shot after you got the shot you thought you wanted ends up (many times) being where the good stuff is. This is one of the few "hard" direct flash in sunlight shots I was able to do with the little Sony Nex 7. The camera and me and the flash just didn't seem to often work in the same "language." 

This was obviously done with the Sony Nex 7 but on this shot I used the much disparaged 18-55mm zoom lens. The little chrome finished one. It really wasn't bad at all. But once you get past f5.6 I guess every lens looks better and better. 

The area behind Noellia is the spillway down stream from the actual pool. The spillway is where people go to get into the cold, clear water if they can't or won't pay the admission price for the actual pool. In Austin there always seems to be a workaround.

3.05.2021

Some purchases are just for fun. Some cars and cameras have the "street appeal" most are utilitarian.

 

Corvette. 
camera: Sony Nex-7
Lens: Sony 50mm f1.8 OSS

It's been a wild week in Texas. ERCOT might have to refund 16 BILLION DOLLARS; billed in "error", the governor has gone over the edge and basically unleashed the mask-less hordes just in time for a Spring Break Covid-19 resurgence and the stock market is dropping because (?) bonds are selling off? Crazy times. 

Me? I'm just enjoying going through old files and separating the wheat (thimbles full) from the chaff (ton loads). 

The image above was taken on one of my many, many monotonous walks through downtown Austin. It's a beautifully maintained, early 1960's Chevrolet Corvette. Not a very practical car but a very striking one indeed. I have to say that the twin headlights and the front grill are wonderfully designed. And car aficionados always love a car with "hips." 

If I looked to photography for the analogous product it would probably be a Leica M4, in chrome finish, with a matching 35mm Summicron on the front. That seems just about right.

So happy it's Friday. I think. But what month is it? 

 

People always say of photographs, "It's all about the light." But I think you need to have an interesting subject for the light to fall upon.


 Noellia is an actor I met when an ad agency cast her for a print campaign for the Austin Chamber of Commerce. We had a fun time working together in the studio and it was a fun coincidence when I ran into her again, but this time at Zach Theatre where she was performing a kid's play called, "Suessical." (how topical). I hired her again to help illustrate lighting concepts in several of my books but we always had the most fun in impromptu photo shoots meant to help both of us build portfolios and goof off around Austin. 

After she moved to New York and started really advancing in her acting career I was sad to think we wouldn't have the opportunity to work together as often but I was wrong. Every time she returned to Austin to visit her family for holidays or vacations she'd text me in advance and see if we could get our schedules to match for at least part of a day. She'd arrive at a chosen location with an arm full of wardrobe and I'd have the camera of the day with me. 

This photograph was from the earlier days. I was using an interesting camera at the time and one of the few cameras I really wish I still had. It was the Sony Nex-7 which was one of the first to use an 24 megapixel, APS-C sensor. I used the little Sony 50mm f1.8 lens that was popular at the time. 

I remember the day well because of the stifling heat. We started shooting over by Barton Springs Pool and finally made our way under the little railroad bridge at the intersection of the hike and bike trail and Barton Spring Rd. We ended up there for the shade and relative cool. While we were shedding some of the heat load we found time to make a few more images. 

You photograph when you have the opportunity. 

3.04.2021

Black and White or Color? Which would you choose?



The image started out in color (just above) but I kept "seeing" it in black and white. I still can't decide which one works for me...

Photographed with a G9 and the 40-150mm f2.8 Olympus Pro lens. 


Added Friday afternoon: A fix by Mr. Judd:

Maybe, but I miss some of the surrounding colors. Good variation...

 

Several Landscapes of Iceland Posted After Reading About 17,000+ Earthquakes in One Week. And the Prediction That a Volcanic Eruption Might Occur!





 I am not a landscape photographer but I suppose I could play one on YouTube. I was reading the newspaper yesterday and came across an article about last week's dramatic increase of earthquakes in the Southern region of that county, not too far from Reykjavik which is where something like 90% of the country's population resides. 

Reading the article triggered a few memories from my trip there in 2018 and I went back into the galleries to see if there were any images I hadn't previously posted. I guess I just wanted to remember what it looked like then, better. 

I was happy with many of the images I made while there. I took only Panasonic G9 cameras and shot mostly with the Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 Pro lens. It was a nearly perfect travel combo. I'm not sure, in retrospect, that I would pack anything else. 

As if a global pandemic wasn't bad enough now we have a possible, gigantic, volcanic eruption to worry about. The last one took down a lot of air traffic in the Northern hemisphere and caused a lot of health and safety issues. I hope this one is colorful, dramatic but non-destructive. 

I guess it's time for me to buy an RV, outfit it with a bunch of computer crap and photography gear, and drive around taking landscapes.... Oh, who am I kidding? I'd rather watch grass grow. I guess it's a pursuit (landscape photography) you either love right off the bat or spend your life trying to understand why other people enjoy it so much.

I'm resolutely in the second camp. 

off topic: I've been following TheOnlinePhotographer for years and was reading about addiction, food and lifestyle stuff there this morning. Yes, it's bad to be addicted to stuff that negatively affects your life. So, I finished reading the blog (and the comments) and moved on to reading the Guardian. 


A quick summary is this: In countries where the majority of adults are overweight or obese the death rate is 10 TIMES!!!!!!!!!!! that of countries where the majority of adults are NOT overweight. This follows similar data from the World Health Organization from last April. TEN TIMES MORE LIKELY to DIE!!!!

I knew that obesity was a contributing factor or co-morbidity but TEN TIMES?!!!!! And that's the result even though countries like the U.S. and Italy have much better health care systems than almost any country the population of which hasn't succumbed to being......fat. 

I thought about this while I swam my 3200 yards early this morning. I thought about this when I ate my Greek yogurt, muesli, blueberries and walnuts at breakfast after my swim. I thought about this as I checked the battery life in the camera I'm bringing along for my noon walk through town. I thought about the article long and hard. Have we, as a culture, come to the point where we're willing to engage in so much bad eating and absolute disinterest in exercise that we're okay with setting ourselves up for a much earlier death? And a much less rewarding and more painful old age?  Even when we know better? 

None of the information about diet and exercise is new (although it seems like people re-discover it over and over again!) or ground breaking. It's just an application of good dietary ideas mixed with discipline; the same as it has always been. Swim, run, walk and don't eat like someone from Mississipi. Sorry to anyone from Mississippi but I'm going by national statistics....

I looked at the Texas qualifications for being in one of the first groups to be eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine (after first responders, doctors and nurses) and in addition to qualifying if one is obese, has diabetes, heart disease, etc. you can also skip the line (metaphorically) if you are a smoker. That's right, a new fringe benefit of smoking cigarettes is now a preferred spot in the vaccine queue. I almost gave up hope altogether when I read that. 

The more bad habits you willingly embrace, it seems, the more preferential treatment you receive. What the hell kind of message is that?

Rant over. Gone outside to do something (anything) other than sit in a chair all day while eating stuff I don't need. Hope the same for you. 

3.03.2021

I was filing photographs into folders by projects and I came across this. It was part of a model test to choose someone to work with on my LED book.

 


I needed a model to help me illustrate various lighting techniques for my fifth book, LED Lighting. I did a little casting call and Jana got in touch. We set up a test shoot making photos in the street and my favorite coffee shops. We scheduled the test for a Saturday afternoon and Jana, having never met me before, and being smart, brought along a friend to chaperone. We all ended up having a great time that day and, in the weeks following, I made lots of lovely images of Jana for the book. 

Testing was a thing back then. Maybe it still is. Maybe it will be again. 

I was shooting with a Canon 5D Mk2 at the time and almost all of our images that day were done with the 100mm f2.0 Canon lens. The fit and finish on the lens was nothing to write home about; a lot of plastic and a construction that felt....loose. But the image quality of the lens was right up my alley = sharp enough but not too sharp. 

Everything I shot that day was as a raw file so I'm sure this test image started life in color but I kept seeing it (in my mind) in black and  white.  It's fun to look at older work as it reminds you that maybe, at one point, you actually had mastered the rudiments of both photography and also portraiture. 

Last time I heard from Jana she was on her way to becoming a very good photographer. When I first met her she was a communications/advertising major. She was a first rate talent, for sure. 



Photograph of B. Back when we knew how to focus by hand... & How to get back to work.

 


Austin is springing back into action and was ramping up even before our governor's rescinding of the statewide mask mandate. We've been hit here by a mini-wave of requests for bids and I'm spending some time trying to decide exactly how I'd like to respond. 

By the middle of next week I should have my second dose of vaccine and a couple of weeks after that I should be reasonably safe, or at least fairly assured that I won't drop dead if I do catch Covid-19. But business ethics go far beyond whether or not the owner of the business will be safe. We have to think of the impact on family, on our clients and on the people who support our businesses; such as make-up artists and assistants. Being out and around also means we'll need to rely on front line workers for coffee and food when on locations, and every additional exposure could potentially up the virus load for each of them. 

Until everyone in our family circle is vaccinated I'm not comfortable having people in the house. and since we use the living room, kitchen and bathrooms for clients during longer shoots in the studio I'll be using rental spaces in the interim. This means that most of the photographic jobs I accept will either be on location or in rented studio spaces. Precision Camera has a nice, large rental space so I'll start investigating that. 

Most of the people who have come to the studio to be photographed recently are sent over from our major medical practice clients. Nearly all of them are doctors or nurses and all have been completely vaccinated. We'll continue to serve them in the space. Most of their appointments are for half hour time slots so the impact on the family is negligible. 

Moving forward I'll negotiate with clients and my support teams to keep following CDC guidelines rather than relying on the insane proclamations of our psychopathic governor. That means always wearing a face mask (even if you've been vaccinated) and practicing social distancing. We'll still have hand sanitizer everywhere. If we learned anything in the past month it's that the machinations of a far right wing government can never, ever be relied on for one's personal safety!

It's early for this but here's the lesson I learned from buying a Leica SL2: The Panasonic S1 series is remarkably good and consistent. It's fun to have the Leica to play with, and the files are really great, but unless one wants to go "all in" and buy a bunch of Leica prime lenses there's really no advantage at all to just owning the camera. It's pretty. Guys over 50 always comment on it. But when it comes right down to evaluating images taken with both the S1R and the SL2 the differences are negligible to non-existent. Sure, there are differences in the choices each company made as far as Jpeg rendering but in raw? Nothing that the S1R can't emulate, and vice versa. 

The differences in video have yet to be fully uncovered. I'll keep you posted.

I'm a slow learner but I can afford to make a few missteps. 

And that's my take.


3.02.2021

wow. The Governor of Texas just lifted our mask mandate and signaled that ALL Texas businesses could go back to 100%. Wise Steward? Or CRAZY LIKE A PSYCHOPATH????


 Join us as Texas actively participates in another round of Darwinian Roulette. 

Traffic in Austin got crazier today. So did our ruling government. Can't wait to get that second dose of Moderna....... next week?

Up for some excitement? Come visit our bars. They'll welcome you with open arms...


3.01.2021

Monday morning. Just checking the roadmap ahead.


Fadya.

I keep reading about the dwindling numbers of camera sales, year by year. Compared to 2010 camera sales in 2020 were down by over 90%. It makes me stop and think about the future of the business of photography (not the hobby!). We hear over and over again that the figures are misleading since they don't include the number of iPhones and other camera-centric smart phones get sold each year. And that's something I do agree with. There are certainly no fewer people taking photographs and, compared to the film days I'd say the difference in quantity of photos per capita in most societies is now off the charts. 

It's interesting to see how photographs get used these days. One could make the argument that the use of photos hasn't changed much but that's not true at all. Yes, there are still glossy magazines being published and sold but their circulations have shrunk and the use of photographs is neither as extensive or as adventurous as it was in the past. Magazines are more an adjunct to the content that's already on websites. The printed materials serve as a feeder or teaser to the bulk of the creative content which is firmly planted on the web. 

With the march toward video everything static print loses it's primacy because, well, the magazines can't do moving pictures. They can't change content at the drop of a hat (do people still have hats?). They have sunk costs in paper, ink and physical transportation, none of which impacts web content. Even on photo centric websites there is an inexorable march toward more and more video content. Just look at Digital Photo Review; five years ago it was surprising to see any video at all on their site. Now, they have over 1200 individual videos on YouTube and the number is growing quickly.

The flip side of the move away from print and to web imaging is that there are more venues to enjoy online than ever before. Some are actually pretty good. 

While the future is always much harder to predict than the past I'm of the belief right now that we'll see a schism in the visual arts universe. All the topical content will continue to head to the web but we're going to see a resurgence in traditional, physical,  gallery and print oriented work by artists. By the people who make stuff for the long haul; not just for a few hours of "like" harvesting on the usual sites. 

This belief is fostered by the observational evidence that shows me, once again, that people are irrepressibly social and no matter how much they are told not to gather they continue to gather. There is so much pent up demand for human contact, socialization, and physically shared experiences that I think we'll see a gallery explosion that coincides with  (and is enabled by) a majority of people in each country being vaccinated against Covid-19. Especially in the demographics that value the experience of shared art.

I'm a great believer in diffusion intuition. And by that I mean that we spend our time enmeshed in a culture and even if we don't have facts and direct observations to cite we absorb the zeitgeist of the time through some communal, and shared, thought process. A commonality of the momentum of desire which we come to understand emotionally long before we can tag it rationally. 

Recently, as I walk in the city and observe the people shopping, meeting for dinner and drinks at outside venues, and even traipse through museums (while masked), I've also started to feel the overwhelming desire to make art that I can share via big prints. I'm asking people if they would feel comfortable coming into the studio again once I get the second dose of vaccine and wait the requisite number of days to manifest practical immunity. The responses are overwhelming. People want, badly, to reconnect, as long as it's face to face and not over a Zoom call. 

My thoughts these days go back to various gallery print shows I've had at different times in my career and how much more poignant and impactful the work was for the audiences. How much the event of an opening solidified my exposure and connection with potential clients and also, on the other side, with potential subjects. 

I know that I'm not alone in my thoughts about this. I hear it from many people with cameras and a passion for the art of photography all the time. 

I'm now sourcing printers who can print very large. I'm preparing to shoot more and more with my highest resolution cameras to take advantage their efficacy for larger print sizes, and I'm working diligently on the more exacting post production of the small amount of work I can do right now. It all feels like momentum in a certain direction. 

For every action (the lockdowns, the restrictions, the isolation) there is an equal and opposite reaction. Yes, we are patient enough to wait till things are safe(r) but at some point the reaction will be concentrated and powerful and we'll once again revert back to our basic need to be out in society, to be seen, to see people and to truly experience their work. Human nature rarely changes for long. 

Renae.

Work notes. It was a prodigious task but I cleaned the studio this weekend and sorted all the mess that had been piling up. I can once again set up a background and walk far enough back from it to make portraits in my style. I've been practicing with my long suffering family so that I feel comfortable working with the Leica SL2 and the Lumix S1R in a square format, in black and white, and with a selection of longer than average lenses. It was an exercise in overcoming entropy. Mostly emotional entropy connected with the restrictions of the moment. 

We've cleaned up everything from the winter storm that marched through Texas. I've stopped tracking sand indoors from the sidewalks and walkways around the house. For those who were worried, our electric bill for the month was about $65. Groceries are back in stock everywhere around our neighborhood. We've got ready access to everything from fresh salmon to fresh blueberries.

As things return to normal there's a tendency to want everything to return to normal. Counting the days till I once again meet with the Moderna vaccine. Probably the middle of next week. It's progress and we are finally starting to feel the progress more viscerally. And that can only help our practice of making portraits. 

No longer driven by the $$$, now driven by the desire to create.

Currently reading two books: How to Train a Wild Elephant and The Intelligent Investor.

Both, in their own way, are very beneficial.