Update: It officially hit 110° Fahrenheit today in Austin.
Forecasting the same or higher for tomorrow.
Joseph. A fellow photographer hanging out at Jo's Coffee, sporting a nice, new
Sony A7R4 and some cool lens with an ND filter on the front. The heat doesn't
bother him. He's from Louisiana...
You know how northerners and Canadians sometimes say stuff like: "It was so hot I could have fried an egg on the pavement."? And then they go on to say they really knew someone who actually did crack open an egg on the asphalt, in the hot sun and, by God! it actually fried. Took a while but it cooked.
In Austin today I saw families over at the park putting ten pound briskets on the black top in the parking lots and cooking them to a medium rare in about 20 minutes. A 20 pound roast took a little longer... No need to boil water for coffee today, just put the kettle out in the sun for a few minutes and then bring it in and do your pour over. But be sure to use your oven mitts. Oh Hell! What am I saying? You might as well take those oven mitts with you everywhere. You might need to touch a door handle or pick up dropped car keys off the street.
How hot is it here? Well, we had to cut morning swim practice a bit short because the water was starting to bubble and it got hard to see through the rising steam... One real danger is that it might get so hot that one's tires melt and the car gets stuck on the road. I'll stop now....
But right now, at 3:33 p.m. it's already 108°
Look at the detail below. If you factor in the humidity
the heat index spikes up to 115°
That's just nasty in anybody's book.
Apocalyptic screen captures
from the weather app on my phone.
It's interesting. We've seen these kinds of temperatures for the last few days but it's worse today than I've felt it in years. It's weather that's our equivalent of a blizzard day up in the north. We mostly get stuck in the house, praying that the baby Jesus doesn't decide to deliver a death blow to the Texas electrical grid, patting ourselves on the back for replacing every window in the house this Spring with multi-pane, UV coated, Space Shuttle grade windows, and checking to make sure we paid that last utility bill. In short, we....or at least I...have been hanging close to the air conditioning for so long I was starting to get cabin fever.
And there was a fresh and mostly untouched Leica CL hanging around that needed some love. And I bought a new polarizer for the Sigma 18-50mm f2.8. And, of course, I constantly delude myself into thinking that I'm still 25 years old, still in good enough shape to run a marathon and practical enough that I'll know when I've had enough exposure to the sun and will head back indoors before permanent damage sets in... Ah the delusions under which we operate. Mortality cozies up closer than I give it credit for...
About 11:30 a.m. I made sure I had a fresh memory card inserted and formatted in the most recently arrived Leica CL. I cleaned the front of the attached polarizing filter and put an extra battery in my pants pocket. Right next to my ring of keys. Then I fired up the Formula 500 Edition Subaru Forester and pointed it toward Austin's most popular Sunday gathering area; once a hot bed of state legislators cruising for prostitutes but now the red hot shopping and dining area know as "South Congress." Or, as no doubt influenced by the truncated language skills of UK inhabitants: "SoCo." (From the people who also brought you: "Uni", "Journos", "togs" "bangers and mash", and --- the hellish game of snooker).
I parked at the far south end of the mile long retail/dining strip, crossed over to the popular side of the wide street and started walking with the idea that, since it is so damn hot, I'd make it to Jo's Coffee and then throw in the sweat soaked towel and head back to the car with a handful of images to play with for later. You know, for when it really gets hot. Some time around 5-ish.
I think, for many of the people I saw while I was out walking, the brain damage from the heat already happened. I saw couples and foursomes huddled into whatever shade they could find, sitting at outdoor dining venues in 105° temperatures, ordering hot food and alcohol. Pitchers of alcohol. They'll most likely be dead by morning. Perhaps it's a Darwinian thing. They seemed to be trying so hard to have --- fun.
I saw families in which every member was obese trundling along the sidewalks in full sun with sweat flowing off their bodies like Champagne fountains at a wedding. Faces beet red and emanating heat I could feel five feet away. Sorority girls dressed in black tights and black t-shirts sweating with equal intensity. And the whole time I was thinking "what's wrong with these people?" They were not homeless or even poor. Not if they were shopping and dining on South Congress. Why didn't they postpone their stroll and huddle in the nurturing bossom of air conditioning like the rest of us. Oh wait. I was out there too. Also sweating and turning red...
The 18-50mm lens is wonderful on the CL camera. It's small and light and provides a nice range of focal lengths for street shooting and general fooling around with gear pursuits. Today's adventure was all about playing with colors and the polarizing filter. I wanted to make the skies darker and more saturated and I wanted to take the haze or reflection off painted signs and windows. I set the lens to f4.0, and sometimes f5.6 because I know them to be the best settings to get the wall-to-wall sharpness that makes wider shots pop better. Had I been making portraits I would have gone for f2.8 and then let the corner sharpness fall where it was going to.
Everything was shot as Jpeg/large. The white balance was set at the little "sun" symbol because --- today --- it's all about the sun. I depended on the AF of the camera and lens and let everything else skitter about where it wanted to go. Auto ISO, for sure.
It was hotter than stolen Leonardo da Vinci originals out there. You first feel it as an all around pressure on your skin, your face and your neck. After a few minutes of exposure you start to feel a slight overall sweat forming. And the sun and heat work in sync to sap your energy and reduce your peripheral awareness just enough to start missing stuff you would have noticed as potential photo subjects in cooler times.
As the heat and humidity start to wear down your resistance to it you start to ration your energy. You look twice and maybe three times before walking down a long side street to see if a particular mural or brightly painted fence is... photo worthy. Will it reward you enough to balance out the additional heat stress? As you get hotter and hotter you start looking for the lowest hanging fruit of imaging. And even then you decide that you can only expend the energy needed for one or two frames before your brain once again drives you to the task of finding shade in which to walk, or into an interesting retail shop that seems promising for cold air conditioning. I must have looked at Stetson hats I had no intention of buying for the better part of 20 minutes. A welcome break after an hour of walking in the bubbling stew of red hot Summer.
Jospeh's hat. Adapted and adorned by Joseph. Who, by the way, was
shooting black and white files in his camera today!
The mannequins are "saucier" on S. Congress.
Jo's Coffee is the magnet for the area. It's adjacent to the well gentrified
San Jose Motel which is the destination of writers, musicians and movie makers
who are "in the know" but not yet requiring the higher security of the Four Seasons Hotel.
On the side of Jo's is the famous graffiti that was painting years and years ago.
It's a popular Austin icon and has probably been repainted a couple dozen times over the years.
When people, families, dates, etc. come to South Congress it's almost socially mandated
that they will make selfies or pose for photographs with the wall in the close background.
Even when it is 108°
When I came by today a line was forming. Patiently waiting their turns to be
immortalized in front of the wall. Charming.
Camera operated in full sun as if it was a phone....sad.
There is no "indoors" at Jo's. By its very nature you will be drinking your coffee, eating your pastries and tacos, etc. outside in the heat. There is shade but it didn't hide anyone from the heat today.
After an hour and a half I was starting to get that early warning signal one learns over the years of running, hiking and working outside in Texas Summers. It's a little voice that says something to the effect of...."You have about 30 minutes, maybe less, in the reserve tank of your heat resistance. After that you will become dramatically more "mortal" than you think you are. You will require water and air conditioning between now and that deadline. Go!"
I ducked into the hat shop for one more look around and one more bout of shedding heat and then headed back to the car, keeping to as much shade as the environment could deliver. I turned on the car, fired up the A/C and knocked back 14 ounces of now warm water I had sitting in the center console. (I know, I know, had my car been in San Francisco that water bottle would be long gone by now. Stolen in an ever escalating crime wave....).
By the time I got back to HQ the car's thermometer was reading 110° and the "feels like" index was a vicious 115°. One silver lining. My laundry load of swim towels never sees the clothes dryer. I spreed the towels out on the driveway and they are bone dry in minutes. Right nice to the prime rib I'm cooking on the driveway for dinner.
Dress to be cool. Always wear a wide brim hat. Don't carry too much. Don't wait until you feel bad to find shelter. Drink twice as much water as you feel like you need to. And, just for fun, take a cold shower when you get home. Although the cold water now coming from the city utility is somewhere above 85°. Not as refreshing as it might be in the dead of Winter. Which may never recur. I think the Beach Boys did an album about the future of Texas weather and seasons. If I remember correctly it's called, "Endless Summer."
Hope you found the photos wonderful. I don't think the files got too sweaty...