What a glorious Fall day in Austin, Texas. What better way to celebrate than with a noon swim?


Today is my second official day off since returning from Vancouver. I've been working on pre and post production on a number of projects and yesterday and today were the first in a while with no work obligations whatsoever. And both days have been beautiful.

The temperature peaked at around 82° this afternoon and that was just right after what seemed like weeks of cold, wet, gray weather. 

I got up this morning and walked with the transplendent art director. We did our usual hike through the nearby hills. Home an hour later for coffee and food. And then I poked around the house looking for stuff to fix or stuff the fixing of which needs to be delegated to trained professionals. I'm having a new main water shutoff valve installed next week and I have some masonry work I need to get done. The periphery walls are not going to repair themselves. 

But top of my list was making it to the noon swim practice. The water was a cool 80°. The air temp. was a delicious 82°. Karen was our coach and she wrote a great workout for us. I substituted backstroke for freestyle on as many of the sets as I could so I could watch the puffy clouds float leisurely across the sky. 

It was one of those late November days when you could still wear your Birkenstock sandals without soaks and not freeze your toes. T-shirts were de rigueur and a pair of short pants would not be a bad choice. 

Attendance was light but there was one masters swimmer in each lane and sometimes that's nice too.

We've got the good weather until 10 or so tonight and then the next front moves through. Highs tomorrow in the 50s but fully loaded with sunshine. That perfect moment between our extended Summer and the onset of Winter. A nice day for a swim outside.

(the flags across the pool are backstroke flags. They exist at a precise distance from each end of the pool so backstrokers know when the wall is coming. Experienced backstrokers can count the number of strokes from the flags to the walls with high accuracy. Bashing one's head against the wall is a quick way to learn).

Kirk photographed in Vancouver by exquisite art director. She used a Sony RX100...


Squinting into the fading sun on top of the central Library building.

Trying out my winter clothes and a PD strap which walking near the sea wall.

It was fun.

PPD. The cause. The cure.

Photo of Jana. Self assigned. Just for fun.

 Post Project Depression. Well, maybe "depression" is too strong a word. 

commercial photography projects can be intense. Not in a sudden and surprising way but more in a fashion that has one chasing after a lot of details both before and after the actual operation of the camera with a dose of intensity right in the middle (the shoot days). 

every time we step up to the back of the camera there is something riding on the success or failure of the project. Especially so when tens of thousands of dollars are on the line. You don't just want to get it right, you need to get it right. "It" being successfully matching the final results to the client's expectations. 

when you head out to shoot personal work you might drop money on travel and accommodations but it's generally nothing like the money you might drop on expenses for a national ad campaign for an industry-specific client. 

My company just finished three complex photo projects in a row. Tightly scheduled. The pre-production for several of them took place, sporadically, over several weeks. The budget for the biggest one included nearly $16,000 for talent (models), additional fees for a make-up artist and fees for my assistant. There were costs for craft service, props and even some extra gear. If anything happened to the files, either during the shoot or during the archiving stage I would be on the hook for a re-shoot, using the original talent, and every cent of the re-shoot would come out of my pocket. The price of failure? It would not be just the $18,000 in hard costs but also the damage to my reputation as someone able to deliver reliably.

If you live and work in a fairly small community you know that bad news travels quickly and the image bad news creates far outlives any attempt made to rectify the issues. You could come out of pocket for all the money and still have the stigma of the failure track you tenaciously. 

This means each big shoot comes with a large measure of responsibility. And that's what generates the feelings of intensity that surround most big projects. The biggest cost is usually the talent and that's non-refundable. You've already used up their time. You've already paid for the usage rates you've negotiated. 

So there is a certain amount of adrenaline flowing through the photographer. The attention to detail on the sets is amplified. Every detail triple checked. The actions of your support staff carefully supervised. And all while working in tight collaboration with the client. 

But a sad fact is that after you've photographed, archived the work, unpacked the gear, handed out checks and all the other post shoot details there is an emotional let down. An unfounded waiting for the other shoe to drop that goes with any large project. I've seen this all the way through my career. It's something I experience every time I shoot something that can't be easily re-shot. Or every time the stakes get high. 

For two or three days after the delivery of a project I find myself in a pensive mood. I wonder if the work will be good enough this time. Will a flaw be revealed in the middle of the hundreds of files that were delivered. Was there some technical flaw we didn't notice in the frenetic excitement of the day? How will the final approval of the client play out? Will we be asked to re-do any part of the project? Will the cash transfer come on time? Will we be able to work with this client again in the future?

Once the phone rings and the client calls to give good and positive feedback about the images the feeling abates. But the next time around, in the nascent start-up of another big project that inkling of fear re-emerges and starts seeping in. Generating that fear of failure that lurks just under the skin. 

Funny. I asked an art director who is around my age if he still gets nervous when starting a big, new project. He told me he's nervous every single time. Without exception. And when he finishes a project there might be a little celebration which is more like "theater" for the client and the production team but in his own world there is a let down of emotions and he wonders if he'll be able to be successful on the next one. 

With thousands of projects under my belt you'd think I would have figured out how to dodge this post project depression but to hear my peers tell it you will jinx yourself on both ends if you aren't nervous going in and not a bit deflated at the end. If you develop real hubris you will be punished by the gods of advertising and marketing. 

We're at the point in our important project at which the files have been delivered and we're awaiting final feedback/approval from our client. It's a time filled with pensive self-doubt. As I said above: waiting for the other shoe to drop.... which should really be stated as preparing oneself for the possibility of the worst case scenario. Which would be that the profitable job suddenly becomes a costly train wreck.

Why did I ever embark on this career when I could have been a safely employed actuarial scientist carefully laying all responsibility for failure at the feet of my employer? Would it have been equally fun?

So, what's the cure? Grabbing a camera and a friend/model and heading out to do some personal shooting. Working with the model and the gear in order to create something you really like. Photographs that make you love photography all over again. Again.


Every once in a while I am breathtakingly wrong about something. So wrong that it's amazing even to me. Read on to find out about the re-test of the Nikon 20mm f2.8D lens.

Austin skyline taken today with a Leica SL2 and the Nikon 20mm f2.8 D wide angle lens.

Yeah. I got just about everything wrong when I put the Kirk-maligned Nikon lens through a preliminary test. I left on the nice, Nikon UV filter and the lens hood which was also a Nikon brand. I shot my tests on a dark, flat, gray day and I did so dodging in and out of the rain. What a mess of a "lens review." 

I couldn't wrap my brain around a well regarded, recent Nikon lens doing so poorly. It seemed that there was bad vignetting in the corners, flare with any light source and a general lack of overall sharpness. I disparaged it savagely. And now, here I am to offer an apology to the lens and to the readers of the original review-ette. 

Today was a kind, sunny, brilliant and temperate day. I took the hood off the lens after I did a test against a white wall and found the hood to be the culprit in the vignetting imbroglio. Darn. I'm usually more detailed oriented than that. I also jettisoned the filter because I think it was causing some of the lowered contrast and lack of biting sharpness. I went out and shot in the late afternoon sun and stuck with normal ISOs instead of some of the "heroic" stretches toward 12,000 I was trying last week. 

The end result? Well. I was wrong. The lens is pretty darn good. It may not be the absolute highest resolution 20mm out in the market but it's more than good enough for just about anything I can think of for general use. The one flaw the lens still exhibits is the wavy distortion. But everything else I bitched about vanished when I used the minimum of due diligence in devising a real test. Now I'm very happy to have the lens along for the ride. I might even figure out how to correct the distortion and press the lens into use shooting interiors.

Just wanted to step up and take responsibility for my egregious error in the previous post. Mea Culpa. Too impatient to wait for the right test conditions and that's totally on me. If you want to see what the lens is capable of just check out the rest of the images here. Mostly shot at f4.0 and f5.6 but one or two were shot at f8.0. All good. 

Check em out.

reasonably good wide open and hand held at high ISOs.

the brick wall test.



Sigma fp gets a flippy-flappy rear screen that rotates horizontally in 360°. It also comes with its own battery. And it's much bigger. (recently updated!!!).

 I looked back at the 20 environmental portraits I shot for an accounting firm back on October 25th and I really, really liked the skin tone I got along with the resistance to high ISO noise that the Sigma fp gave me that day. Some of the credit should also go to the Leica 24-90mm zoom lens which is nothing short of fantastic. I just found myself wishing I could show the portrait subjects some of the images I was capturing so I could better get their "buy-in" on the process. A five inch, high def monitor that I could compose on and also swivel around to let the subject review some shots would have been really great.

Today, as I was packing for a similar project I'm doing tomorrow at a law firm I realized that I had all the pieces to make that working methodology successful right here in the studio. I love to test stuff out before I go out and work with clients so I put the lens on a tripod, mounted via a rotating mounting ring, and attached the Sigma fp to the lens. I left the magnifying hood on the camera but will probably jettison it for the actual shoot as it becomes redundant with a monitor attached. Finally, using the Sigma flash attachment's hot shoe, I attached the Atomos Ninja V to the rest of the package and connected it to the camera with a micro-HDMI to full size cable. When I get to the location tomorrow I'll also put a monitor shade on the Atomos to block unwanted light on the screen. 

Now I can set up LED lights, preview my exact shots, and see every detail on a monitor that's got at least twice as much viewing area. So much easier to show clients and subjects how the shots look as we go through the day. The novelty of it all will make the day that much more fun!

I'll bring along some of those big, Sony NP970 batteries for all day monitor performance as well as a couple more HDMI cables --- just because. It's a heavy package but I'll let my tripod do all the grunt work.

The tests say, "Yes." We are good to go. Now on to the packing.

After I disassemble this set up I'll plug a USB-3 cable into the camera and the computer and see if whatever changed in Lightroom Classic has now enabled the same kind of tethering as I experienced this week with the Leica SL and SL2. With a bit of luck I'll be tethering every camera I own except for the Leica CLs. They have not ports.

New Update: The Sigma is not tether-able to Lightroom Classic at this time. I'll continue to use it tethered via HDMI to the Atomos Ninja V.   Too bad....

Ah Jeez. Not more rabbits... Oh darn. Another mannequin.


Breaking news update for Leica SL users: !!! The latest version of Lightroom Classic now tethers seamlessly with the Leica SL camera.

 After yesterday's success tethering the current Leica SL2 with Lightroom Classic I came into the studio this morning and found the correct Tether Tools cable for use with the Leica SL. Here's what the end that goes into the SL looks like:

I connected the camera to the computer, launched Lightroom Classic and then turned on the camera with the USB set to PTP. The app found the camera right away and opened up a control strip that allowed for changes to the camera as well as triggering from the computer. Lightroom in tethered mode provided a live preview and then a beautiful, full window review of the .DNG file just shot. It also provided a sequential row of image thumbnails across the bottom of the program window. 

I repeated the hook up and shooting from scratch three times and each time the whole shebang started right up and there were no issues. 

Now my three main shooting platforms, the Panasonic S5, the Leica SL2 and the Leica SL all provide me with the ability to shoot tether and to review images on my computer in real time. No extra charges. No need to buy a yearly license to yet another application. 

Just in time for Christmas...


Lightroom and Leica SL2 now work perfectly for tethered capture.

 Two weeks ago I was trying to tether the Leica SL2 to Lightroom Classic for a photo shoot. Every time I launched "start tethered capture" in the app it would crash. Something has changed. I have no clue what it is. But the process is now simple and saves me from buying yet another expensive and unnecessary application which I would have only used for the purposes of tethering a camera. 

Here's how to do it. First update both the camera, the computer operating system and Lightroom classic to the latest versions. In the camera menu choose PTP for your USB setting. Turn off camera. Attach the camera to a USB 3.0 cable and attach the cable to the computer. Launch Lightroom. Turn on the camera. Select "tethered capture" in the LRC "file" menu. Select "start tethered capture" in the sub-menu. Select a folder to house the files. Start shooting.

This works with the camera's raw files because they are a standard .DNG file. 

A window will open at the top left of the screen to show a preview image. You can use a command bar to do rudimentary setting changes on the camera and to trigger the shutter. When you take each shot it appears in the center screen at a large size. A row across the bottom of the window contains the sequential thumbnails of all the images. You can magnify the selected frame and use any other image processing tools in Lightroom. You do not need to load any plug-ins.

I tried it twice. Both times it was rock solid. Nice. Happy photographer. 

Now to see if it will work on an older SL....

You saw the black and whites earlier this week. Now revel in the magnificent colors of the TTArtisan 50mm f0.000095 Lens mismatched to a full frame camera.