My original goal was to write and share photos on 5,000 blog posts. We have about 55 to go before we hit that number.

First blog image actually saved on the server.

First, an apology. When I started writing this blog I was focused on writing about cameras and lenses, and how the nuts and bolts of the photography business worked; at least for me. Over time I moved from writing about the gear to writing about "how I felt about the gear." and from there, recently it seems, the writing has become about  "how I feel about everyday stuff." In this transition I've unintentionally minimized the experiences of others in this incredibly trying time and become somewhat blind to my own privileges. That I let my own hubris and (misplaced) sense of entitlement come through in my writing is regretful and insensitive and for that I am sorry. 

A blog about photography should be a respite from the angst and trauma of life; especially during a pandemic. My insensitivity is a result of too much isolation and not enough empathy for those who haven't been as lucky as me over the last year. It's also "off message." 

In the next 55 blog posts I'll try to make amends, or at least keep from going off the rails. No more posts about politics, cars or swimming. No more emphasis on luxe camera brands when an article on the actual operation of cameras is more relevant. But I do reserve the right to discuss stuff like...raccoons. 

I'll try to make the next 55 posts well worth reading for my core audience: photographers. 

Not sure what will happen when I hit the target of 5,000. We'll see when we get there.

Sorry for mucking up some of the posts. 


It was Black and White day today. I Celebrated the occasion with a black and white walk.


News that's largely meaningless to you but significant to me: 

Raccoons. AKA: Trash Pandas. Humanely removed by nothing more than a smelly rag. An interesting and low impact solution for my chimney dwellers. The chimney got two layers of heavy duty, metal mesh masonry-ed into place along with the regular top-of-chimney cage, also cemented in place. 

I now believe that raccoons are smarter and stronger than humans and can really only be stopped by half inch steel bars but the current construction is a strong deterrent. I now worry that the baby raccoons will not have as nice a place in which to grow up...  Not that I'll be inviting them into the office.

Cars: I was roundly pilloried by an anonymous commenter whose mission seems to be two pronged: to attack any post I make with which he disagrees and also to force everyone with whatever pressure he can exert to only buy electric cars which you will then be required to drive for the rest of your life. No replacements and no exceptions. I've had my fill of asshole commenters so from now on when I come across a petulant post from an anonymous commenter I will discard it post haste. Now, this doesn't mean that my loyal readers who are also brave enough to leave their names will suffer the same treatment. You are almost family and can slag me to your heart's content, as long as you stay away from the ad hominem stuff, and continue to take credit for your brutal critiques. I would not want to rob friends of the opportunity to tell me how wrong I am. That's what friends are for. 

I'm currently driving an "undercover" looking sedan from the dealer. My new car, prior to wreaking unbelievable havoc on the environment, is traveling to Austin on a car-carrying truck and will be here to begin its destruction of all we hold good and noble by, maybe, Wednesday. Just look for the black clouds of smoke over the '46 zip code. That'll just be me starting up my new, 4 cylinder, low emission, inexpensive car for the first time. I'm pretty sure I'll keep the new one for a much longer time frame. I hope that makes him/her/us/them happy. 

Here's what I'm tooling around in for the rest of the week: 

I swear to God that it doesn't run on coal...

Cameras and stuff: I'm pretty happy with the stuff I've got in-house. But you know how that might go. Still... we're entering what I usually see as a "breathing spell" after a period of rapid acquisitions. I'm already planning an out of town foray when the new car arrives. I'm heading to San Antonio to photograph out on the street. I'm going to get back into the practice of making portraits on the street. I plan to spend at least one overnight there. Since I no longer have parents with nice houses in that city I'll be booking my overnight at one of the nicer downtown hotels. I can't wait to get out of the city. It's been over a year since I've been to San Antonio and I've missed the way it looks, smells and feels. I hope it hasn't been damaged too much by the pandemic. 

Current lens crushes: I'm very attached to the 65mm f2.0 Contemporary lens from Sigma. Damn. It's very sharp wide open, improves a little bit as you stop down, and just makes images that sing beautifully whether I use it on a Leica or an S series Panasonic. If I didn't own one I would be sitting at the computer with my favorite credit card in one hand, ordering one right now. I'd even pay for the expedited shipping. 

Camera crushes: While I own the Leica SL2 it's the SL that's got me wrapped around its right hand grip. I can't put my finger on it exactly but the camera just feels perfect. I paid about $1990 for the camera, used, and it's right in line with the same price as an entry level, full frame, Sony, Nikon or Canon. But it's worlds more luxe when it comes to the body design and construction. The colors coming straight out as Jpegs are stringently neutral and the hand feel is almost so good as to be illegal. I've been shooting it in the Jpeg+DNG mode but I keep using the Jpegs, being satisfied and the then trashing the raw files. I wish the batteries lasted longer and, as an adjunct to that wish, I also wish the batteries were about a third the price. But everything else makes me smile so big I could rival the Cheshire Cat. If you've always wanted to play with a Leica get an SL and a Sigma 45mm f2.8 and go to town. It's one of the most fun combos I can think of. 

Camera crushes continued: Get a Fuji X100V. They are just really, really good for the price. I fall in love every time I shoot with mine. 

Finally, I used the interval shooting feature of the Leica yesterday. It was so simple to set up that I thought I might be doing something wrong. I was not. But it allowed me to get a funny photo of myself that I put up on Instagram with an appropriate caption. Here's the pic: 

It's my "Senior" portrait. I can hardly wait to see it in the yearbook.

It was shot by S. Tymer. 

Daylight Architecture at f2.0. Now that's different. At least for me.


I never thought to photograph a building at f2.0 in broad daylight. Logic would tell me that I have lots of light, could use a modest ISO and still be able to get a shutter speed that would freeze any camera motion at a range of apertures; any of which might get me deeper depth of field and greater lens correction.

But today I was exploring the edges of the gear. What happens if we shoot everything at ISO 50? How do the files look? Are they very different than all the stuff we usually shoot at ISO 100 or 200?

What happens if we photograph buildings with an aperture of f2.0 instead of f5.6 or 8.0? Will the entire building be in focus? Is the lens sharp enough when used at its maximum aperture? 

After working with both the Leica SL and SL2 I have a small theory about sharpness and image stabilization. I think it may be a good idea to turn it off when you don't need it and see if that actually improves the work you might be doing at 1/1,600th of a second or so. Surely, with a static subject that's a fast enough shutter speed to freeze just about any camera movement or shutter shock. And an engaged image stabilization feature in combination with high shutter speeds may create more problems than it solves. If you don't test it you won't know, right?

This was f2.0, 1/1600 shutter speed, and ISO 50. Jpeg with a little saturation boost in the shooting. Click on it and look at it bigger. See if I learned anything or if it's just another building shot.

That's Scott Newton's Photo of Leon Russell Behind Me. It's over at the W Hotel. Which is connected to the Austin City Limits stage.


I'm enjoying doing self portraits with my new Leica cameras. I think I do it to see what I've looked like for all these years to all the thousands of people who waited patiently for me to get my shit together on the other side of the camera. It's also a learning process but it's a small one. It's mostly how to get the camera hold correct to be able to get sharp photos without image stabilization. 


Disk Golf at the park in a gentle mist. Everything is green again.


The importance of seeing artwork in the flesh.

Sculpture at the Blanton Museum. 

Memory fades over time, of course, but I still have a memory of being very young, probably not even in first grade at the time, and going with my mom and dad and my brother and sister to see show of "modern art" paintings at the Amon Carter Museum in Ft. Worth, Texas. I have a memory, which may or may not be a construct of a combination of visits over time, of seeing a painting of Pablo Picasso's "Peace Dove" on a gallery wall. It was a sunny day and there was a bank of windows somewhere behind me. I distinctly remember some random,  older man saying, out loud to no one in particular, "Hell, my nephew could have drawn that and he's in third grade."  

I may or may not have agreed with him but I didn't really know any third graders and didn't have any idea what they might be capable of doing with paint. I don't remember discussing any of our family visits to museums with my family members but I know that my parents diligently took us to area museums whenever an appropriate exhibition was presented. But the "reward" for a visit to the Amon Carter Museum in particular was always an early dinner at a BBQ restaurant called, The Black Angus, which had saw dust on the floors and some of the best tasting BBQ a youngster ever ate. If we'd been really cooperative at the museum my brother, sister and I would get an additional treat of having a sparkling glass of cold ginger ale with our BBQ. It was primary school gustatory heaven.

When we were growing up I don't remember seeing a lot of artwork in our family home in my early years. Then we lived in Turkey for a couple of years in the 1960s and my mother went on a shopping spree, buying up dozens of original canvases by all manner of Turkish painters. I learned about primitive painting, naive painting, representational painting and even a bit of photo-realism. My mother also collected Turkish pottery, Turkish carpets and works in brass and copper. When we came back to the USA it was almost like a light switch had been flipped and our homes from then on were filled with art of all kinds. It was an interesting transition; from bare walls with an occasional family snapshot to a mini-museum of middle eastern eclectica. I still have small, brass chariot from neighboring Greece, a curved dagger with an inlaid wooden handle and brass sheath from Syria and a large and heavy brass tray table from somewhere near Antioch.

When I decided to pursue photography in the 1970s there were few ways to share one's work. You could load up a slide projector and project your Kodachromes on a white sheet or convenient wall or you could learn how to print. As a student watching every penny I chose printing. And as a student owning two pairs of Levis and one pair of shorts I could only afford to pursue black and white prints. 

As part of learning to print better I went to every gallery show and museum show of black and white photography I could find. It was such a transformative experience to go into the Humanities Research Center at UT and actually hold original prints from the Helmet Gernschiem collection in a cotton-gloved pair of hands. The photo curator would sit with me in one of the small, upstairs galleries, and allow me to hold Edward Weston prints, Strand prints and even a few Henri-Cartier Bresson prints in my hands to better examine every square inch of the surfaces. Imagine my surprise when I was handing an HCB print of one of the Catholic Popes in the middle of a crowd only to realize that my photographic idol of the time had missed hitting sharp focus on the main subject. And then realizing that...it didn't matter. 

Years later, while teaching photography at the University of Texas, College of Fine Arts, one of the high points of each semester was my tradition of taking the students in my studio classes over to see the Gernschiem collection; under the watchful eyes of the curators.... It was usually a revelatory experience for those overly confident students who thought they had nailed the art of printing in only a few short months.

I thought I had become jaded about seeing art after the arrival of the "digital revolution" and the ubiquity of all the images on the web but a show a few years back of Arnold Newman's work, also at the HRC, set me straight. I could stare for ten minutes or more at work he did for commercial clients and magazines which, over time leapt right over any sort of label to become pure photographic art. The tones, the textures and the remarkable detail were all "what was missing" from the same works when reduced to presentation on the web. 

It was interesting to read comments from people and see scholarly reviews about Richard Avedon's remarkable show, "In the American West." It was originally presented at the Amon Carter Museum in Ft. Worth, Texas but almost everyone with an opinion saw a "minimized" version of  the work in popular photography magazines and tiny images in magazines like "Art in America." The documentation photographs were mostly small and in many cases badly printed and seeing the subject matter of the photos without the context of the presentation, size and context led to the usual uninformed grousing and posturing. And the idea that it was fashionable to dislike Avedon's non-fashion photography. 

My wife and I were invited to an evening opening reception for the "In the American West" show where we immediately encountered the reality of photographs printed in a way that dwarfed even my most optimistic understanding of how wonderful, powerful and dramatic photographs could be. Entering the main gallery was like opening the door to a newly discovered dimension. 

The black and white prints were magnificently made even if one discounted for the size and presentation but when you saw a perfectly printed (on photographic paper!!!) eight foot by ten foot portrait supported by a steel backing under perfect lighting the power of it would take a normal person's breath away. It was just that different. Just that amazing. 

Added to the excitement of the prints was the fact that Avedon had invited many of the subjects of the photographs to attend the reception. To see "normal" people utterly transformed by Avedon's art, and standing right next to prints of themselves, was another elevation of understanding that never was adequately represented by the work shown small in magazines. Or in the reviews that accompanied them.

It was in that moment that I think I realized how important a direct assessment and appreciation of any artwork is. It's the reason why art lovers make the treks to see original artwork all over the world. Would a  six inch tall,  plastic model of Michelangelo's  Pieta inspire the same wonder and appreciation in generations of art lovers as the magnificent and powerful original statue, situated in the context of the grandeur of the Vatican? 

When I have done shows of my own work in the past I've printed mostly larger black and white prints. I have one such "show" print on the wall next to my desk. You may have seen the image shown here before. It's the one of the Russian Model on the Spanish Steps in Rome. If you've seen it here, on a screen, you saw a version that is about 2200 pixels on a side. Reduced to a Jpeg and presented in (based on most monitors) 6 bits of color or tone differentiation. If you came into my office and walked over to my desk you would see the print made on double weight fiber paper, printed as a 36 x36 inch print, matted and framed. I guarantee that the contrast between the two viewing opportunities would be jarring. 

We have fewer and fewer opportunities to see original art in the flesh (so to speak). But we inflate our experiences and contact with art on the web as something equivalent to appreciating direct and original engagements with art work that also include its context; its actual prescence.

I had seen Caravagio paintings in books like "Jansen's History of Art" often enough to recognize his style and subject matter easily. I thought I knew what there was to know about Caravaggio from art history classes in which our professors projected slides of his work and talked about his use of chiaroscuro at length. But when I walked into small gallery in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence I saw the paintings as if for the first time. I was riveted. It changed my perspective on his accomplishments entirely.

I had the same experience in a gallery in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg in 1995 when I saw, for the first time, a painting of "the nursing" Madonna by Leonardo Da Vinci. I kept circling back to the work again and again, seeing something fresh and intriguing each time. So different than a tiny four color process print in a book...

And my reactions have been the same every time I come face to face with the actual art instead of the highly diluted proxies for the art that we are "treated to" on the web. Here, on the web, we know the broad outlines. In person we can look down to the brush strokes, to the grain. To the intention.

We talk a lot on these blogs about things like pixel peeping or dynamic range or sharpness but these parameters are all secondary to an artist's actual and complete culmination of a work. We're picking at little threads instead of standing back and seeing the costume in its entirety and its intended manifestation. Just as telling a scary story is wildly different that living through one. The parameters we discuss these days about lenses and cameras are engineering decisions that I think are aimed at maximizing a screen based experience over providing the best matrix of features for making transformative art.

When photographers discuss printing many are dismissive and predict that the physical print will soon be dead or will only be the preference, or "gold standard", of old farts over 50. I disagree. Well made prints have a power, when seen directly, to be transformative and, well, exciting. That power hasn't gone away. If anything the proliferation of endless mini-replicas of photography on our devices works to lower our expectations in such a way that when we finally see (are confronted by?) the work in the flesh it's even more powerful for the current generations of viewers. It just takes more energy to get today's viewer off the couch and finally standing with full attention in front of actual work. We don't have an NFT for that yet....

I posted some images yesterday from a gallery that I wandered into last weekend. The size of the work, its immediacy and its relationship to adjoining work made it more accessible and valuable to me than any experience of seeing it on the web, on a screen, and especially (God Help Us!) on a cell phone screen. 

It's something to consider as we roam around collecting our own photographic images. Maybe we should always work with the material's highest and best presentation potential in mind instead of just accepting the qualitative restraints of the lowest common denominator of display. Hmmmm. I might be making a case here to shoot with more exacting intention and capturing with the greatest potential for display printing and physical sharing. Even if that means everyone will have to come to an actual show to see the "real" work.

And that's why I go to the Blanton Museum each month, the HRC whenever there is any new, public show of any kind, the Contemporary Museum in downtown, and at least once a quarter to my favorite museum in central Texas, the McNay Museum in San Antonio. Lucky you if you live in Ft. Worth because the Amon Carter Museum is one of the finest in the country. But seeing art directly almost anywhere will reset your expectations in a good and usually unanticipated way. Click, Click. Print. Show. 

Were wine and cheese invented to bolster the gallery experience? Just wondering.


Gone out to shoot some squares. Back in a while.


SXSW Television Programming Promotion.

We are currently out of the office playing with 
a fast, 35mm lens and a nice camera body. 

Please check back later for more posts.

Wildlife update.

 On the beach. Iceland. 2018.

The raccoons have officially left the chimney. We stopped hearing anything the day after our Critter Control person dangled the "coyote cloth" down the chimney. The mom hissed at it's arrival and there was a lot of chattering from the kits but later that night things quieted down. By the next evening everything was silent. 

A technician came by earlier today to confirm and spent a lot of time making sure that nobody got left behind. Once he was certain he called in the exclusion expert who applied thick screens and other barriers to the top of the chimney. He also did a couple of 360s around the house to look for any other weak spots. 

We are now sealed up and ready to resume life in a more relaxed fashion. Apparently, no raccoons were harmed in the process but they were inconvenienced and are probably paying high rent in their new digs. 

While I liked all the people that Critter Control sent by I hope not to have to see them in their "official" capacity in the future. 

Just thought it was important to loop back on this topic and provide some closure for those who were tracking the progress of my encounters with wildlife.

Thanks for your interest. 

An art gallery and other expressions of popular culture in Austin. Oh, and a few images just because we like the pretty colors.... Oh, one or two pix? NSFW. Unless you work from home.

Tired of raccoons, tired of cars, tired of tax accounting, and tired of being cooped up. I took a lightweight camera out on Saturday to see what might be going on outside these days. Here are a few images from a dubious art gallery show called, "Provocateurs." And then a few images from the bar scene. And a few images of questionable fashion photography and then just some nice, bright colors. 

When you don't have anything in particular in mind it's nice to take a small camera like the Fuji X100V along with you. Put that sucker on auto and remember to look up above eye level every once in a while.

Bummed to have the end of the month show cancelled, postponed, rescheduled or whatever. Happy the raccoons seem to be gone.

I've been watching the Canon, Nikon and Sony announcements with some interest since this is and Olympics year and if Japan pulls off the Olympics the three big camera companies will all want to be on site in force. It seems like the new, Canon R3 is a nod toward sports photographers who want to go with a mirrorless option and, I'll be surprised if the Nikon Z9 isn't designed with sports photographers in mind as well. Sony has already shown their hand with the Alpha One. I'm still reeling at the idea of 50 megapixel files shot at 30 fps. And that's raw+jpeg, not just one or the other. I'm still trying to imagine how the poor editors sitting in trailers around the various Olympic venues are going to edit that stuff... Talk about filling up hard drive space. 

The problem for Nikon and Canon, and to a certain degree, also Sony is that there are actually very, very few long, fast lenses available for any of the recent mirrorless systems. I'm thinking about the much used sports optics like 400mm f2.8 or f3.5s, the 500mms, 600mms and 800mms that I saw in use by many shooter in the last two games. When push comes to shove I wonder how many photographers will have to retrench into the D6s and 1DXmk3s to get the job done the way they want it done. And how can Sony retrench? It should be an interesting time.

I'm not sure it matters that much these days. I keep hearing from my younger photography friends who are shooting sports professionally that so many of the resources are being aimed almost completely toward the video crews. Many of whom will be originating in 8K and 6K this year. If they increase the shutter speeds and frame rates there is real potential to pull stills from the video footage that rival the generation of 24 megapixel still cameras still in wide use for events like these. 

When one considers how close a 30 fps in stills and a 30 fps in video are it's largely a toss up except that still photographers can opt to shoot higher quality raws. I can't imagine film crews choosing the shoot raw for events like this. The would need cargo trucks to haul off the storage drives...

Mirrorless for pro sports will have arrived when the long, fast lenses show up...

Another shot just because I wanted to see the difference between Leica color and Fuji cameras. Straight out of the camera? Fuji in first place.