I forgot to mention it in the last post but I also shot a bunch of color frames with the Sigma fp. All in the standard color mode. All Jpegs with minimal processing. Take a peek.

The images in this post are from the same walk as the black and white images in the previous post. I switched to color when I saw images that were mostly about color and color contrasts. It was a productive afternoon. Especially considering that, really, nothing much got done....

Hey! There's a collectible Lee Friedlander monograph
right there on S. Congress Ave. Nice. 

Changing the route. Walking on S. Congress Ave. Getting up to speed with black and white + Sigma fp.

I am amazed at all the barber shops along S. Congress Ave.
Each trying to outdo the others in terms of looking like
ultra-realistic 1950's traditional barber shops. 

Okay. So...yeah, I looked like a complete dork because I had the big loupe hooked onto the back of my usually small and elegant Sigma fp camera. It was a bright afternoon and I didn't trust my LCD to be bright enough to use in full sun without a bit of assistance. If the camera was more popular I'd start a little business making a foldable LCD finder attachment/hood for the rear screen to replace the King Kong-sized loupe. 

But using the camera that way (with the loupe) was actually pretty pleasant. The 2.1 million dot screen has enough resolution to make it appear non-pixel-ly and it's great to have a huge image to look at for composition, exposure and color balance previewing. The photographer (me) becomes invisible by dint of looking like such a nerd that one is almost instantly ignored by other people on the street. Almost like wearing a Tilley(tm) hat and socks with sandals... And, maybe for street photography that's a good twist. Anonymity through banality.

Anyway, I was heading out to play with my camera work hard with my camera to master its black and white performance and I realized that I had become bored with my usual walking route through downtown. Instead, I headed over to the ever popular S. Congress Ave. area and walked there. It's wall to wall now with retail shops, fashion boutiques and a mix of trendy and long tenured, casual dining establishments. It's far more popular a destination than downtown and even on a hot Wednesday afternoon there were lots of folks out shopping and grabbing coffee. Or beer. Or ice cream. Or pizza.

I set the camera to shoot in monochrome color mode and instantly discovered that the firmware update 3.0 made big strides in terms of getting me snappier and sharper black and white images with fewer overrides to the preset. I did pop up the contrast in the parameters menu by a couple of clicks but that was the extent of my customization. I just happen to like contrasty black and whites which is the opposite of how I like color. 

Even though I felt the need for the LCD loupe on the back of the camera I was trying to keep the overall package as small as possible so I opted for the 45mm f2.8 Sigma lens, hoping it would balance out the huge "growth" on the back of the camera. It did. After an hour or so of shooting the whole weird assemblage felt normal to me. It's light, easy to hold --- as long as you have one of the Sigma handgrips attached --- and it looks weird enough compared to conventionally designed cameras that people had more curiosity about its provenance than umbrage at being photographed. 

The Sigma fp has always fascinated me because of its small size and its large amount of eccentricity. But the bottom line is that the sensor is monstrously good, within it's resolution class, and the Sigma color is extremely pleasing. Now I can add to that an appreciation for the way the camera and lens hand monochrome. 

One of the strikes against the camera that most reviewers trotted out in the early days had to do with the camera's alleged inability to focus quickly and accurately. I can't speak to its C-AF capabilities but all the frames I took yesterday snapped into focus immediately and with authority. Take it with a grain of salt since I only use center area, single AF. The one place I wish the camera could be improved by firmware (but probably can't) is in the electrical power management. The batteries are just a bit too small to power a full frame, live view camera with enough umph to quell "range anxiety." I set the power management to shut the camera off quickly but even so, after a couple hundred frames and two hours of handling the camera it was clearly ready to be fed another battery before the end of the walk. On the flip side, the battery is one that's in wide use, across a number of popular cameras and so buying generic, aftermarket batteries is cheap and easy. I have dozens left over from a series of Panasonic micro four thirds cameras that took them... Not a big deal to change out the battery. Less intrusive than having to unload and reload film after every 36 shots...

I made one mistake when using the camera and the 45mm lens together. With ample operator hubris bubbling up I set the camera NOT to correct the vignetting. I didn't think it would be too bad. And truthfully, if I shot everything at f5.6 or f8.0 it would have been fine but...I ended up shooting the majority of my shots at f2.8 and f3.5 and the vignetting was almost comical. Yes, it could mostly be remedied in post but since I was only shooting Jpegs I should have let the camera handle that task...

And now, some captions.

these are plants. they seem to have survived last winter's big freeze.

Guerro's Restaurant was one of the pioneer businesses to open on
S. Congress. Why? Because right up until the late 1980's this strip
was only known for prostitutes soliciting business from republican law-makers who were
cruising by half drunk and "in the market." That, and as home to a bevy of 
pornographic movie theaters. Those days are now over for 
this section of highly gentrified Austin. 

Tiny shopping carts for a business called, "The Tiny Grocery Store." 

"Sorry, We're Open."

One of the original "cool" pancake and breakfast restaurants in the city. 
Still missing one of the competitors --- the Omlettetry. 

Austin's original "land of food trailers." 
Which may become the future of dining in mild climates.
Are there still mild climates somewhere out there?

The future of in-town, personal transportation?

Every lamp post an advertising opportunity.

That there is the signature Lyndon Baines Johnson Stetson 
hat in a soft grey finish. It's made by Stetson. 
One can be yours for a cool $250.

the 45mm is a bit of a chameleon. 
Wide enough to include what you want 
but long and fast enough to do fun tricks with depth of field. 

That's all I've got for today...