One of the early photos done with the Panasonic S1 and the original L mount 85mm Sigma Art Lens.

Mary Bridget Davies as "Janis." 

A little over a year ago I was pacing through the Zach Theatre auditorium at the technical rehearsal seeing "A Night with Janis Joplin" on stage for the first time and trying to predict where I needed to be, minute by minute, to get good photographs for marketing and promotion. 

I'd purchased two Panasonic S1s and some great lenses and I had already shot the big Christmas play just before the tumble into 2020. One of the cameras I had over a shoulder was equipped with the 24-105mm f4.0 Lumix lens while the other was outfitted with the big, heavy 85mm f1.4 Sigma Art lens. The image above was done with the Sigma. 

The Panasonic S1 cameras were (are) a good choice for theatrical photography because their sensors are among of the best performing when it comes to high ISOs. I was shooting the camera with the 85mm at ISO 1600 but mostly because I was interested in setting a fast shutter speed (this was at 1/400th) and I wanted to stop down just a little bit. But as I become more and more experienced with the cameras I found I have no trepidation about using them at ISO 6400 and, sometimes, even up to 12,800 ISO. The files clean up nicely. The sharpness and saturations remain good. 

I really wish the theatre was back in full scale production, inside the main theater building, because I'm very interested in shooting a show with a Leica SL2 or SL on one shoulder and a Lumix S1 on the other. It would make for a great comparison between not just the image quality differences (if any) but also the overall usability of each camera. 

It's one thing to walk around and point a camera at stuff that's not moving or changing much and trying to catch a live show on a stage with ever shifting lights. That, for me, is the litmus test. 

The 85mm was great. Thankfully, so is the new version. And it's smaller and lighter. 

Pix from rehearsal below:

definitely the week of the 85mm 1.4 Sigma. Art.

As more and more Austinites get vaccinated we're starting to slowly creak the studio door open again and starting to play around with more portraits. Here's a blast from the good old days.


Back in the pre-pandemic days we felt a lot less constrained about inviting people into the studio to make portraits just for fun. Now we're starting to hear from friends (and even adult children of friends) who want to come over and collaborate in some portraiture. 

Tomorrow I'm putting some time aside to make some portraits and headshots for one of my video collaborator's daughters. It's a pretty open-ended brief as long as we get some great stuff. 

Austin seems to be doing a decent job at getting large swaths of the community vaccinated and it seems most natives are still abiding by the mask mandates even though the "personal grievance" political party is doing everything they can to sabotage the recovery. If we can cut down on tourists from the bright red, surrounding cities we might just have a chance to thrive again.

And that means more and more beautiful faces tromping through the hallowed halls of the studio. For fun and sometimes, for profit.