6.12.2021

Saturday morning. Relaxed. Calm. Happy.

Mousumi. 

 This image reminds me to slow down and spend more time making portraits.

Things finally seem mellow around here. The house and environs are in good shape, the neighbors are uniformly nice and sociable and my favorite coffee shops have largely re-opened. Swim practice gets better each week. I'm "muscle sore" more often now after swim practice since abandoning casual alcohol use but I'm also swimming harder and faster than I did just a month ago. 

This morning I've swum, stopped by Trianon Coffee for some great coffee and a fun and indulgent apple danish. I've got my Leica SL+Nikkor 50mm by my side and I'm chilling out, reading camera and lens reviews on Reid's Reviews. So much good information. But judging by his photographs from Vermont the writing comes from a much slower and much different world than mine.

As I use the Leica SL cameras more and more I'm quickly zero-ing in on how best to use them. Where to set the exposure when looking through the EVF so that it provides a much bigger dynamic range file when I finally work with it on the office computer. The secret is to always slightly underexpose the finder image to protect the highlights and the then bring up the shadows in the raw conversion. 

Having worked with SLs for about two months now I know where every menu item is, how each button works with its long press or short press and what to expect when I shoot with medium apertures. I'm finally sinking into that "warm bath" of familiarity that comes with really making a camera a comfortable companion.

The Nikkor S 50mm lens was a revelation. There are times when I love the modern, expensive L-mount lenses but there are many other times when I don't need to have the camera delivery "ultimate" performance and in those times the comfort of the way the camera travels along with me is much more important. When photographing on the streets or in a rehearsal I don't really need "perfect" as much as I need a camera to carry that feels right. That doesn't mean small or weightless but it does mean amiably portable and the kind of possession that begs to tag along with you wherever you go. 

I thought the Fuji X100V (which is a very, very good camera) would fit these parameters to a "T" but there is always the frisson of not having the focal length of choice, at hand, when the mood strikes for, say, a 90mm. 

The combination of the older and more battle-scarred SL along with an adapted 50mm or the Sigma 45 or 65mm lenses makes for a package that's absolutely just right for me. I replaced the brutally expensive Leica neck strap with one of my older, and well worn, Tamrac straps and even that added touch made a difference for me as regards overall handling of the package. 

I'm coming to grips with the idea that my career in video needs to wind down and I'm doing less and less video work. More importantly, I'm pitching less and less video. As I focus back onto traditional photography I'm happy with the tools I have at my disposal. I'm thrilled with the three Leica cameras and most of the lenses I've amassed. I can probably let go of a few Panasonic cameras but I'm not in any rush and there's nothing I'm anxious to buy which, in the past might have driven a more immediate desire to turn over the excess camera gear. In fact, there may be reasons to keep both just to have a couple of "crash" cams around for perilous shooting and savage weather shoots. 

It's nice to feel calm and safe for a while; even though I know it may be transitory. There are no guarantees but I'm learning to surf happily through the returning good times. 

Looking ahead, and outside the narrow strictures of photography, it's time to discover new restaurants in Austin and to re-discover old favorites. It's been too long since I've had a plate of verde enchiladas at Fonda San Miguel. Or a chili rellenos at Las Palomas. I'm waiting for my favorite, neighborhood haunt, Blue Dahlia CafĂ© to fully open so I can be indulgent and have their classic eggs Benedict again. 

The pool was cool and inviting today. I swam with Jane in an uncrowded lane and it was almost meditative. 

That's all I've got for you today. Be well. Play happily.