Super-heated life in the urban heat islands of Austin.
I live to the west of downtown, up in the hills a bit and across the lake from downtown. When I check the temperature here on hot days I get the localized weather report and it's always much less daunting than the temperatures recorded in the downtown area. There's more traffic there and a lot more impervious cover and blacktop. The reflective windows of the high-rises do a great job reflecting light and heat onto what should be the shadow sides of their neighboring buildings, which retards the natural cooling that would occur if there was no giant reflectors engaged. And then there's all the exhaust from the many building air conditioning systems. So, generally the downtown area where I like to walk runs anywhere from 5° to 10°
hotter in the middle of the day, to the late afternoons and beyond.
It makes photo life a little bit more challenging if you are out trying to do small tests with your cameras.
I walked a couple miles with B. through the hills early this morning. Before the sun heated the streets up. Before the temperatures crested the 80° mark. But when I headed back out to do errands and to make these tests for the blog it was already 99° in the neighborhood and, when I parked in complete shade down on Toomey St. the car insisted to me that it was 107° outside. And it felt like it. But look at the nice tonality on the dashboard!
the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge, the walker's bridge between north and south Austin.
Spanning the Colorado River, aka: Ladybird Lake.
belt cinched waist on a Summer dress.
Today's walk featured the Panasonic S5 with me trying a few new tricks. First of all I've set the camera up to try to get used to back-button focusing. I decided it would be more interesting to separate the exposure lock from the focus lock. The camera is now set up so I can put the attached lens in MF and then push the AF-L button on the back of the camera to initiate AF. Once I release the AF-L button the lens stays focused on the target I selected when pushing the button. It's second nature for a lot of you but for me it's all experimental. I'm getting used to it. But frankly, it's almost as quick to leave everything on the camera set to manual and just focus with my fingers on the focusing ring. Who knew?
I'm also trying out the "L. Monochrome S" color profile for Jpegs but I'm such control freak that I kept dragging the exposure down by a full stop for most of the images. They just seemed too bright in the finder. I need to keep working on this to find where the sweet spot might lie but there is, at least, more control over the Jpeg files than I can get in camera with the Leica SLs.
The lens today should be one of my favorite solely because of its contrarian oddness. It's the 65mm f2.0 i-series lens from Sigma. A bizarre focal length but one that my brain insists is just right for me even if my visual appreciation gland hasn't quite dialed it in yet. I still find myself in the old conundrum of not being able to decide if it's just a 50mm lens that's a bit too long or an 85mm lens that's too wide and therefore distracting for me. Again, it's a matter of training and experience more than anything else. That, and having something interesting to photograph with it.
I started my adventure out this afternoon by heading to the city of Austin recycling facility where they cheerfully accepted my old window air conditioning unit. They assured me that part of their job is to remediate the freon (or whatever coolant is in there) and render it safe for the environment. And then there is apparently a lot of valuable copper in the compressor and the coils. They have a market for that. The rest of the metal will also be recycled. I left happily assured that I wasn't attacking the environment with a flame-thrower...
After the recycling duty was fulfilled I headed downtown to do my walk-with-camera and to better understand the B&W profile. Damn. It was hot.
By the end of the third mile I was ready to call it quits so I headed back to the car, tossed some water on my face and in my hair, and headed to the closest Starbucks to get a Venti (extra large) iced coffee. It was just what the doctor would have ordered if he'd gone out on the walk with me... but they are generally too smart for that...
the long hallway at home.
After looking at the images from the 65mm and the L. Monochrome S profile (don't know what the L. or the "S" mean...) I can say that the basic tonality is pretty good but I'm reserving judgement until I can convince someone to come sit for me in the studio so we can really see what this combo does. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
I think I'm finally coming around to the wisdom of shooting in raw, in color, and then converting to black and white in post. I'm interested in how other people do their digital black and whites but not so interested that I'm of a mind to go foraging on the internet for info. I'll just pretend that everyone is as confused and headstrong as me.
In case my dermatologist is reading along... I wore a long sleeve shirt with an SPF rating of 50, long pants with an equally high SPF and a broad-rimmed (and very stylish) hat. I also tossed some sunscreen on the backs of my hands. Just for the record....