Auditioning camera and lens choices with travel in mind. I came across this particular atmospheric environmental expression this afternoon...

I'm doing some vacation traveling early next month and I'm auditioning single camera and lens combinations with an eye to only taking the most pared down kit with me. The way I'm distilling the choices is by taking the camera and lens under consideration with me for an afternoon long romp through the city. 

The important parameters I'm testing for are:

1. Image quality

2. Ease of use

3. Best focal length for my eccentric vision

4. Overall portability

5. Weight and size (I'll be carrying the package across one shoulder and will NOT bring a camera bag).

6. Battery life and, subsequently, battery size and weight

7. Degree of sadness entailed should the camera get lost, stolen, destroyed or otherwise rendered null

8. The handling happiness quotient

9. Replaceability should either camera or lens or both die unexpectedly. Could I acquire a replacement SL2 or similar on the same day if something tragic befalls the initial camera?

10. Will most people ignore the camera?

Today's package candidate was the Leica SL2 combined with the 45mm Sigma f2.8 i-Series. I give it passing grades for most of my point above but it's only C+ for portability. It's a solid A+ for image quality. It's a C- for battery life and a C+ for battery size and weight. Strangely it only earned a solid B for HHQ (handling happiness quotient).  It's still in the running. 

In the course of walking around I noticed that the sky was in transition from "generic sunny sky" type to "windy, wispy cloud sky". I thought the image above nicely reflected the moodiness of the atmosphere. 

Another candidate that I'll be auditioning this week will be a Leica CL paired up with either the 30mm f1.4 Sigma or the 18-50mm f2.8 Sigma zoom. We'll see how well it fares.

That's all for now.

We are so "blessed" to have an additional 400,000 people in town this weekend for Formula One.

 A whole different set of folks from the 140,000 or so that were here on the last two weekends for the Austin City Limits music festival. 

What fresh hell awaits us next?

I have attended the F1 in Austin on two different years in the service of clients. Loud cars go around and around on a track. Some are faster than others. No matter where you sit you only see, at any one time, about 4% of each lap. About 12 seconds of car viewing per circuit.

Insanity is said to be doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This is obviously a text book case. 

Did I mention the noise? I cannot imagine what possesses people to come from all over the globe for something like this. But just because I think car races are stupid doesn't mean it has no value for other people. To each their own.

At least, unlike ACL Fest, it's far enough away from my home not to inflict on us burdensome traffic, loud noise and crowds. If anything it has lightened traffic in my neighborhood. And local restaurants are less crowded.

Some silver linings; I guess. 


Leica introduces two cameras this week. One I am indifferent to and the other I wish I could justify ordering right away. Such is life.

 This week Leica announced that they are re-introducing the film-driven M6 camera. It's not a special edition but will be available only in limited quantities. Apparently crafting a camera by hand with expert craftspeople is not quickly scalable. Go figure. 

For a while in the 1990s I shot many, many corporate shows and events with a collection of three Leica M cameras and assorted M lenses. There was the .85 version (eyepiece magnification) which was great for 50mm and 90mm lenses. There were two of the .72 versions I used as "all arounders." The Leica M lenses were great performers and the rangefinder focusing was something I adapted to right away. But the bodies weren't without their issues. 

The rose colored glasses of memory haven't completely blocked from my memory that one brand new M6 was delivered to me with a totally uncalibrated rangefinder. Just absolutely unusable. Right out of the box. Back it went and was replaced by another unit. Over time the rangefinders in the other two cameras slowly drifted out of compliance to the point that two of my three M6 cameras became zone focusing only models. Back in the 1990s service could be okay or it could be horrible depending on what repair was needed. If it was a rangefinder calibration you might have wanted to send the lens you used most with that body to be calibrated in tandem. If it was a shutter repair you might want to pretend you'd never get the camera back and just buy another one to take up the slack.

There were other issues. I guess the most limiting for a corporate event shooter was the 1/50th of a second flash sync. If you needed any sort of fill flash outdoors you were mostly out of luck. But back then even the Nikon F3 only got to 1/90th of a second for flash sync so it didn't seem as egregious. 

Loading my M6s was a chore. I got really good at it because I shot a lot of film but that didn't make it any less time consuming. Or fraught.

I'm less inclined to glorify the M6 than some of the newer users who never got to shoot with something as glorious as the Leica M3 SS (single stroke) with a nice 50mm Summicron. That product absolutely defined the golden age of photography and I would conjecture that most of those cameras from the mid-1950s are still in use. They were actually built to last. And many a Leica shooter would tell you that their M3 was still banging out Kodachrome or Tri-X long after their newer M6 bit the dust and headed back to the repair haus.

I guess I feel the same way about the M6 film camera as I would if you showed up and replaced my fuel injection system on my Subaru with a carburetor or two. Or if I still had one of my air cooled Volkswagens that required me to crawl under the car and reset the valve clearances on a regular basis. I remember my Karmen Ghia and my Fastback with fondness but I'd never want to go back to cars that need maintenance every 1,500 miles and were bereft of air conditioning... Just not going back. 

I predict that many will buy the new M6. Users will spend a year getting to know all the ins and outs of photographing with a rangefinder film camera. Then, a year later, all those new user M6s will hit the resale market in one prolonged rush. The owners finally figuring out that we've moved on and that the advantages of digital cameras far outweigh the nostalgia of M glory. Or the nostalgia for film for that matter.

But I'm a heavy frame user so that's just my opinion from my spot on the photography spectrum. If you are a careful worker and don't shoot too many frames your affinity for the old tech might be quite different. Your balance between quantity and love of film might be much different. 

So, will I rush out and buy a new version Leica M6? No freakin way. You may have noticed that while I might change (digital) cameras systems frequently except for a Hasselblad tens years ago or so I have not acquired ANY new or used film cameras and have no intention of doing so. Too much work. Too little cheese. 

The other camera I mentioned is a different story. I've had my eye on the Leica SLS-2 mirrorless sibling to the SL2 since, well, since it was introduced. It's got features I like such as breathtaking high ISO, noise free performance. It's a great video camera and has codecs that I like. The video files don't need to be line-skipped or downsampled as much or in the same way as the video files from the SL2 so that means sharper, more detailed video imaging. And.....it's digital. Once I buy it everything I do with it comes at no additional charge. Well, except for those pesky Leica batteries...

I've been keeping an eye on the used market for one but the announcement this week of the Reporter model sure stuck a hot pin in my acquisition gland. It's just like the Q2 reporter in that it the SL2-S Reporter sports the tough, matte green paint over the (all) metal chassis. It also has the Kevlar/Aramid covering where the stock units have leather or faux leather grippy material. The Reporter SL2-S just looks so cool and is only a couple hundred dollars more than a stock unit. I love the look. But every time my finger hovers near the "Pre-Order" button at the Leica Store Miami webpage for the SL2-S Reporter I reach for one of my original Leica SL cameras, cradle it in my hands, and it seems to assuage and defuse the rampant desire for the new camera. 

But it's a dicey time. My birthday is near the end of this month and my track record of buying myself great birthday presents presages danger on the horizon. I guess I'm procrastinating to I can eventually venture back to their site and see the word's, "Sold Out" on that product thus saving me yet another bout of needless expenditure. 

But at least at its core the SL2-S is a practical and useful tool for this age. Even if you get the one in Army Fatigue Green..... 

Yes, I know. Your mileage will vary. But that doesn't make the Reporter version a bad choice for everyone.


And Just Like That We're Back Knee Deep in Video. But it was Fun.

The Red Dot has new meaning for me. It's the video record button on my GH6
and my S5. And both provide the same, fall V-Log profile in camera...

 Today's project was shooting a video for a company that uses swimming pools as part of a geothermal strategy for air conditioning. Adding in a cooling tower means you can control the temperature of the pool water as well. In the Texas Summers air conditioning systems that use water for heat transfer run more efficiently, run with less system stress, and actually get better and better at their primary function as the weather gets hotter and hotter. 

The assignment was to go to an architect's "green" home and interview him out by the pool he uses for his own home system. He's been doing green designing and building for over thirty years and he had the system installed in his own home over two decades ago. He was thrilled to talk to my clients on camera about how good the system has been for him and his clients. And about the cost savings.

We (Kirk and primary client) wanted to use two cameras for the interview so we could cut from a tight waist up shot to a wider, different angle. It's nice to shift angles during a program to prevent as much viewer boredom as possible. Since both cameras were set up and shooting 4K video we also knew we could make good use of the ability to crop or use a "Ken Burns" effect (pan and scan) if we felt the need. 

Primitive Sketching. 

I arrived at 9 am and got to work. We'd scouted the location a week earlier at around the same time so I knew pretty much what to expect. I found a GFI power box across the walk from the pool and plugged in my only light source. It was a 300 watt LED light shining at full power into a Westcott medium octa-box on a heavily sand-bagged light stand. Up about eight feet in the air and pointed down toward the interviewee. There was lots of ambient light bouncing around but the constant source kept the light on the person in the frame more consistent and helped to reduce scene contrast a bit. Behind the interviewee were trees and nice landscaping. 

I positioned my interviewer's seat directly across from the pool gate and put my subject on the other side of the gate. The gate was the perfect height for the subject to stand behind with his arms crossed in a natural way across the top of the gate. This certainly helped put him at ease through the 45 minute process of being interviewed. 

Many years ago an old video hand showed me what he thought was always the best way to position the light, the interviewer and the camera if one wants to have the subject looking off camera instead of directly into the camera. Put the interviewer in between the camera and the main light source. Have the subject look directly at the interviewer. You can move the interviewer close to the camera if you want less of an off camera look or move the interviewer further away if you are looking for a more obvious off camera look. Either way you want to put the subject off the center of the frame. The rule of thumb is to put him closer to a side than the center and you want him to space the more open side in the frame, on the side to which he is turned. In the example above I would comp the scene with the subject over to the left hand side of my frame, as I was looking at the camera image, and then have more open space to the right of the frame.

If you are using one camera you are pretty much done with the set up. If you are also using a second camera you'll want to keep it on the same side of the 180 as the primary camera. By that I mean that if you drew an imaginary line between the interviewer and the subject you would want to keep the second camera on the same side of that imaginary line as the A camera. If you put a camera on the opposite side of that imaginary line you will have crossed the 180° mark and it will confuse your audience. 

The second camera should have a different set of image parameters from the first camera. Different enough in either the subject's size in the frame or the angle of view so that cutting back and forth between the two frames makes sense and doesn't just look like a bad jump cut. My second camera was a wider shot and the angle of difference between the two cameras was about 45°. So both the angle of difference and the size of the subject in each frame are very different. It really does make a difference in the editing process...

The position of the camera was a bit precarious. My heels were right on the edge of the pool deck if I was operating directly behind the A camera. I'd advise that you have nothing plugged into the camera that uses A/C electricity. Just in case. The light over to the right side of the drawing above was anchored by two 25 pound sand bags and it was plugged into a GFI plug but I still wouldn't use it that way if anyone was supposed to be in the actual pool. A mishap of gigantic electric proportions just isn't worth it. 

The final addition to the lighting and camera mix was a 4 x 4 foot, one stop, silk diffusion panel which served to block direct light from hitting our subject. With dappled light it's too easy to make an image look like crap when blasted with both hard specular light and deep shade from over hanging branches, etc. I use sun blocking scrims of various strengths just about any time I'm shooting in daylight. It just adds more consistency to the overall light. But...over the course of our interview, I had to stop a couple of times to readjust the scrim since the sun refused to stop moving across the sky for me....

We were making this video in a busy residential neighborhood. There was construction going on a couple houses over and intermittent leaf blowing that plagued us through the whole process. Omni-directional lavaliere microphone to the rescue. I planted the microphone right in the middle of my subject's chest exactly where it was supposed to be in relation to his mouth and then I said a little prayer to the photo gods asking them to enhance the inverse square law. Just this once. Just for the sake of my client....

I used a Sennheiser wireless system and it was .... perfect. It's old school so everything is manually set but once set it's just as solid as a rock. The subject's body did a good job blocking unwanted sound from behind and the falloff over distance was so quick that it almost sounds like we shot in a studio. I used a Rode NTG4 on the B camera and got it as close as I could to the subject without getting it into the frame. 

The difference in sound quality was night and day. The shotgun microphone picked up sound and noise not just from the front of the microphone but also from the back. That's the nature of cardioid construction microphones. They don't magically zoom in on the subject and the same rules of the inverse square law apply. A shotgun mic can be a good choice but not if you are trying to subdue relentless noise. In those cases a "stick" mic (reporters handheld omni mic) or omni-directional lav are the only way to go.

That's fine though since the mic on the B camera was only there to pick up a scratch track that I can marry up the files from the two cameras with and get them synchronized for easier two camera editing. They'll work fine for that. 

I wore headphones all morning because I wanted to make sure we'd walk away with usable audio from everything we shot. I was pretty easy going about it but I did stop filming every time a Southwest Airlines flight thundered directly overhead...

We shot both cameras with V-Log profiles and when I apply the Panasonic V-Log to Rec709 LUT the frames look very good. The need a bit of added contrast and  some slight mid-tone darkening but the amount of dynamic range out of both cameras was better than expected. Perfect for this kind of strong contrast, daylight shoot.  I used the luminance spot meter and a gray card to set the exposure on both cameras and I used the gray card and the custom white balance tools for color. Seems like I hit it pretty well when I look at the vector scopes in Final Cut Pro X. 

The A camera was the Panasonic GH6 and the B camera was the Panasonic S5. Why? The color science matches up well and they both use the same V-LOG profile. Makes it easier to match stuff up in post.

Now comes the worst part of any video job....going through and matching stuff up. Figuring out what stays in and what gets trashed. I like working to a script better but this was a classic interview and the client and I will have to decide what works best for their messaging.

Under Ben's guidance, delivered Sunday over dinner, I shot more B-roll than I ever have before. And even though I feel today that I've covered everything pretty well I know Ben would have advised doubling that. 

That's how I spent most of the day today. It was fun. I like it when all the stuff works and the clients are relaxed and their interview subject is smart, relaxed and verbally agile. It's a nice mix.

Now to give "voice isolation" a spin in Final Cut Pro X. 

Nothing like overkill for audio.

But it says the Voice Isolation is powered by....Machine Learning.

We'll see about that.


Channeling my inner Garry Winogrand on the very same streets from which he harvested images while in Austin, Texas.


What did Garry Winogrand and Kirk Tuck have in common? They were both prowling around the UT Austin campus area with cameras between 1973 and 1978. They both were into high fidelity sound equipment and could both be found at a store called, Audio Concepts, located on the SW corner of campus. Winogrand was a frequent visitor to the store because he liked to come in and audition stereo gear he might be interested in buying and Tuck was there because, well, he worked at said store part time while going to school. He was working the job. Another similarity is that both of them (during different periods of time) taught in the Fine Arts College at UT. Oh....and also they shared a classroom one semester when Tuck was a student and Garry was his instructor. 

After work or between classes most of us photo "enthusiasts" gravitated toward "the Drag", the main street that ran north and south along the west edge of campus. That was Guadalupe St. and right in the middle of the row of retail shops and buildings on the west side of the street was the UT Co-op which had a big camera department on the second floor. That's where I bought my Canon TX camera and my first 50mm lens. A few blocks away was the Dobie Mall. That's where Audio Concepts sat but more importantly that's where Capitol Camera was located while I was a student.  And Capitol Camera was, in the eyes of Austinites at the time, the ultimate camera store. You could buy everything from Leicas and Hasselblads to Rolleis and Nikons. And a lot more. That's where I bought my very first, brand new camera, a Canonet QL17 iii. 

When we headed over to the Drag with our own cameras we would often see Garry wading through the crowds of students coursing down the sidewalks with a Leica M rangefinder camera over one shoulder and another one in his right hand, glasses pushed back on his head,  ready to pounce on any photographic opportunity --- which more often than not was some really cute co-ed in cut-off shorts walking along to class, etc. 

It was fun to watch Garry work because he was oblivious to the annoyed stares and signs of disapproval from his targets. If they paid attention to him at all. He would have been in his 50s at the time. And I think it was easier for him to do his style of street photography back then than it would be for us to do the same now because back then about 25% of the students were also carrying their cameras around over one shoulder and, in general, it was a time of less cynicism or maybe just more innocence.

When I went to see the Laura Wilson show at the HRC on the UT campus last week  I walked a few blocks down from the HRC and crossed the street at the intersection of 22nd St. and Guadalupe St. It's been a while since I've been on campus during a busy day. But at this particular crosswalk the memory of watching Garry Winogrand in the same area, plying his art,  came back to me in a flash. It was the same kind of afternoon he would have loved to be out photographing on. A battered M camera with a 28mm and a bright line finder mounted in the shoe. I could re-see it all.  It was like magic for a moment. The memory.  And then the traffic light turned and it was all gone.


I have achieved nearly complete downtown anonymity. A milestone day. But vaguely embarrassing...


This afternoon I was continuing my exploration of Sigma's exciting color profiles. I'm stuck on "cinema" right now but might be moving on soon. My current favorite place to shoot is in a ten or fifteen block chunk of downtown Austin. I headed there with the idea of getting a latté, checking out the arriving Formula One tourists, and snapping away with the Sigma fp and the old (but really nice) Canon FD 50mm f1.4 lens. 

I shot some frames of my favorite mannequins and some shiny buildings. I shot a shadow selfie with resilient plants in the frame. And I photographed a guy chilling out on the Astro-Turf at the Seaholm Shopping center about to be ambushed by a bird. 

Then I stopped into a little coffee shop on Congress Ave. got a latté.  I took the coffee to go and headed north toward the Capitol. There is a nice marble bench in front of yet another coffee shop that's outside and comfortable. I thought I'd sit for a spell (that coffee shop closes early and was shuttered when I got there) and enjoy the brisk 69° air. 

Many years ago our downtown merchants and office buildings created the "Downtown Austin Alliance" and part of their play to make downtown safer and cleaner is their team of (unarmed) street ambassadors who pick up trash, calm down people who are off their meds, liaison with the police, and also check in with the homeless population when the weather gets bad. It's bad PR to have people die of hypothermia on the doorsteps of a downtown bank building.... They have a basic uniform and when it gets colder the Downtown Austin Alliance "ambassadors" all have red windbreaker jackets with the DAA logo on them. I guess it was "cold" today because they all had their jackets and matching hats on this afternoon. 

Anyway, I was sitting on the marble bench out on the sidewalk sipping my coffee and just soaking in the ambiance, camera in my lap,  when an "ambassador" walked by. He stopped and very nicely asked me, "Are you doing okay?" In that tone that's both helpful and welcoming but also reserved. I smiled and said that I was. Then he asked, "Are you staying warm enough?" And I realized that he was operating under the assumption that I was one of the homeless population. I was touched by his concern and at the same time embarrassed that I could pass for....a down on my luck, homeless person. But then I reframed the whole episode and thought that I had finally achieved that which every street photographer works toward: Almost perfect anonymity. Of a sort. 

I guess I just had that weathered, tired and displaced look today. I headed back to my car, drove back to my neighborhood and re-entered my normal life. It was an eye-opener for me today though. But I guess in some strange way it speaks to my ability to shape shift in order to get the photos I want. It will make a good story down the road.

Also met and talked with a younger photographer who was working the streets today as well. He was sporting a vintage Leica M6 with a 35mm on it. He asked me what I was shooting with and I told him. He was a nice enough guy and he saw that I was floundering (not "foundering") at street photography. He suggested that I try reading a blog he'd recently come across that actually inspired him to come downtown to shoot... yeah. I read it. 

Watch out for that old 'homeless' photographer...


We got our first cold weather of the season today. It got down to 60° and stayed there most of the day. Might get even cooler in the middle of the week.

Sigma fp. 45mm.

I'm starting to think that all of the "practice" photos we take when we are just out with our cameras, tasked with no projects and no agenda in mind, are very much disposable. Maybe it's even a good exercise to learn how to toss away images permanently after you've looked at them. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in having hard disks more or less filled with lots of "almost" "nearly" "pretty good except for...." "so close" "so boring" etc. photographs. Someone mentioned on a different blog site that various masters of 20th century photography often felt the need to shoot two or three rolls of film every day, just to stay "tuned". Just to stay warmed up for the main events. 

Josef Koudelka was reported to have walked around a friend's house aimlessly shooting his camera each morning until he'd blasted through a couple of rolls of film. He felt it was something he needed to do to keep from getting rusty. Playing the scales as it were.

I seem to do the same thing but with the fecundity of digital cameras I come back home with hundreds and hundreds of frames. Not a handful. Not just a couple dozen. Some indifferent, most boring, but a few with promise. A very few.  

Schooled in the days of film photography we got into the mindset of never throwing images away. Even "seconds" or almost frames could be recycled as stock images or something. Now the costs of keeping a half million images on hand is trivial but the burden of having them in the mental subroutines we use to remember where we store it all is brutal. Excessive. Debilitating. 

Lately, like a sport fisherman, I've been tossing lots of catches back into the ocean of photos once I feel I've bagged my limit. I think I've come to a somewhat rational conclusion that since I'm not inclined to stop shooting all these files, wanted and unwanted, they are going to continue to increase in quantity and will eventually gum up the works. Both literally and figuratively. 

I've become less attached to the images that I used to be. Maybe it's the realization of my own fleeing years and the mortal goal posts getting progressively closer but I've realized that I don't want to spend whatever years (hopefully decades and decades) I have left hunched over the hot fires of a jam-packed computer sorting wheat from chaff and making some sort of catalog that will eventually dissolve like sugar in hot water. Better to start tossing now and with gusto then to become trapped by images that linger; vaguely wanted but mostly only as signposts along the way and not as real art, with real value. To me or anyone else. 

I like the image above. But it's not very compelling. I don't have a story that goes with it. It's decor in some downtown building at the corner of two famous streets. But whatever art is contains is lodged with the actual object and not my haphazard documentation of it. I can now bring myself to share it once here and then discard it permanently. A tiny part of a gorged hard drive will probably breathe a very small sigh of relief but then gird itself for the onslaught of more. 

It's an addiction to keep shooting when you've filled every nook and cranny of storage you own. Like a gambling addict the addicting rationale is to just keep buying more of those cute little hard drives and keep hoping that one of the stored images is a blockbuster prize/the winning lottery number, the must have NFT that's just temporarily dormant. But with the full knowledge that you'll never be shouting "Bingo!" Or "read em and weep" where all these images are concerned. 

You know the ones you need to keep. They are of treasured memories. Of close loved ones and their visual history. Your collection of celebrity photographs that may increase in value as the news cycles become ever more rabid and desparate. You keep the images that cause you to pause and look and smile every time you see them on your screen. But damn man, it's time to get rid of all the rest. 


A small gallery of Sigma fp files with the Cinema minus two profile. All images taken with the Sigma 45mm f2.8 Contemporary lens.


Cult camera and lens takes its place as the best "point and shoot" / eccentric, weird camera of this decade. And I'm not the only one who thinks so.....kinda.


I got an email today from a friend who is also a reader of the blog. He's heading to Paris on a solo photography trip. Something he has apparently done a lot. He and I have traded emails lately concerning the Sigma fp. A camera that was thrust back into the limelight by master blogger, Michael Johnston. I have to say that over the last couple of months it seems to be the camera I carry around with me everywhere. And I'm not sure if it's the camera by itself or the camera+the 45mm lens combo that endears it to me so readily. 

I'm one of the original crazy people who bought my fp as soon as it first shipped in 2020. I was attracted by the design and the specs but I was finally captured by the amazing images that I saw quickly floating around the web. When the YouTubers and big review sites poo-poo'ed the fp I knew it was probably a camera that I would love.

Since the Spring of 2020 I've shot a few video programs with it but most of my use of the camera is in the taking of photographs when I'm out and around, running errands or quality control testing coffee at various vendors within a constrained area. (I'll branch out when we've gotten all the coffee production in 78701 perfected. It might be a while). 

But circling back to my friend... he's planning to take only the Sigma fp and, I believe, the Panasonic 24-105mm zoom lens. He's got a finder for the camera and, after giving it a lot of thought, I'm pretty sure he's selected the best package for making all kinds of photographs with the fp. The lens has the range I would want and, being a product of the L mount alliance it adds image stabilization to the system. The final kicker is that he has, in the past, been a Panasonic FZ1000 users so he's already got plenty of batteries that will work in the fp camera. He's set, as far as camera gear goes. 

I got his email after I came back to the house from running errands and photographing around downtown as I made my rounds. Among other things I concentrated on unusual Halloween decor I kept coming across. I was also playing around with a customized version of the cinema color profile. And, as you probably know by now I have no fear of working with Jpegs files... When I'd made a good, long loop through the urban jungle I quit and headed to Precision Camera to buy "just one more" sandbag. 

I bought a bright orange one. I figured the more garish the color the more it could serve as a warning beacon as well as a stand immobilizer. When my graphic designer/advertising professional spouse looked at the color with a bit of disgust I knew I had selected the correct color. it would work well as a cautionary sign...

The effect of the cinema color setting is somewhat subtle. I like it a lot but in its stock configuration it's way too green and way too flat. I use the settings in the menu to add a bit of contrast and to take out a bit more of the saturation. The contrast is plus 4 steps while the saturation is minus 4 steps. Then you can adjust for the overall effect. I select minus 2 for that global setting. It gives me files that I think mimic the softer color negative films that Kodak designed back in the 1990s for portraits. And perhaps even more of a close match to Agfa Pro Portrait 160 color negative film. It's all good, clean fun.

I still experiment with the 24mm f3.5 lens from Sigma and also the little 90mm but I keep coming back to the 45mm f2.8 as my perennial favorite. It's small, sharp and at the same time....mellow. It's just the right optic to pair with the cinema color mode. Yum. One of my favorite "point and shoot" cameras ever! But with the added happiness of interchangeable lenses, a full frame sensor and amazing image quality.

Sand bag. $40. I was thinking that's pretty pricy for a yard of canvas and 25 pounds of sand but I forgot to factor in the shipping charges. Can't imagine how much you'd have to pay Fedex to overnight a couple of sandbags to you. And, yes! I know they make empty sandbags you can fill yourself but where is the fun in that? 

I have another friend who is a pro photographer in Atlanta. He also tests cameras and lenses and stuff for some online photo magazines. He's currently testing the Sigma fp L. The 60+ megapixel version. He wrote me yesterday to say that the rolling shutter ("Jello" effect) was off the charts bad. I wrote back to tell him that it's a feature, not a fault and to try not moving the camera around while making photographs. 

I cannot print his reply here because we try to keep this a "family friendly" channel. He did not agree. 

This negative appraisal of course triggered an opposing response from my brain and I've spent a small part of today re-researching the fp-L with a vague urge to add one to the fp. But in truth the fp is so close to perfect that the smart play might just to buy a second one of those just in case. 

Prepping for video this week. V-Log in both Panasonic cameras. A wild mix but all within the same family. 

More infö on that when it's all in the can.

What an exciting birthday month. Can't believe I'll be 67 years old by the end of next week and I'm still dragging around C-Stands and sandbags. My friends think I'm crazy and I'm starting to agree. I'll ponder it tomorrow morning at the early swim practice. Gotta get warmed up for the shoot....


First Perfect Use Case I've Ever Seen with a Drone. Wow!


I had to post this one. Even though I found it on the world's biggest photo site.

Caution: Wonderful mountaineering shots. 

Jeez. What a weird time I had from 4:00 a.m. till about 11:00 a.m. this morning. And this is totally off topic if you are looking for something about photography...

this is currently my favorite shooting combo. It's so illogical and counter-intuitive. An "ancient" camera body from the 2015 era coupled with a lens from the early 1970s. And not a "collectible" cult lens or amazing powerhouse lens. Nope. It's all just comfortable stuff that feels like the cameras I learned on but still has enough technical prowess to make decent photographs. No doubt that your mileage will vary otherwise we'd all be shooting with this combo, we'd all be married to B., We'd all swim more and we'd all complain more....

My day started around 4:20 a.m. today. The early wake-up certainly wasn't by design. I had the alarm clock set for 7 a.m. with every intention of sleeping right up to the edge of the clock's precision and then, fully rested, leaping out of bed and heading over to the pool for the early Sunday masters swim practice. Yep. That was the plan. And that's how it usually goes in my little section of paradise. But not this weekend...

One of my least favorite parts of living and working in Austin is our seeming, collective addiction to mass attendance outdoor music festivals. I love live music in concert halls, small clubs, The Continental Club on Congress Ave. Even solo works at places like The Elephant Lounge. I've seen great concerts at the Bass Recital Hall at UT and on the stages of three or four live theaters sprinkled around town. But the joy of sitting in large dusty or  (weather intruding) muddy field surrounded and hemmed in by chain link fences, being sold $12 dollar Cokes, using nasty Portable Potties strung out on the periphery of a hot field has always eluded me.

The music never has the polish of a indoor venue for many practical, acoustic reasons. And out of any crowd you'll have about 10% of people who are bad actors, or just plain obnoxious. So, at a concert with 100 people at a club you just need to deal with ten people. At a concert outdoors with 100,000 you'll need to be on guard for about 10,000 rude, surly, loud and inconsiderate people. Same 10%. Just feels a lot different when events scale up...

Our next door neighbors made the gamble to rent out their beautiful $3.25 million dollar house (currently on the market, if you are interested) for the weekend via AirBnB. Their house has multi-level pools on a well landscaped deck. Lots of bedrooms and bathrooms, and this weekend the house also had an infestation of 4 hard rocking, sociopathic couples. I had the suspicion there would be trouble when they first showed up and one woman in the group stood on the back deck, facing my house, and screamed over and over again, "This is just fucking incredible." I will give her points for the power of her voice and its range. While 150 feet away she sounded like she was right there in my backyard, standing right next to me. 

Not a big deal in the moment. Just a precursor of things to come. 

The whole group went off to sit in the dirt and damage their hearing at the concert. When they got back at 10:30 p.m. they started to party....hard. On the pool deck. Right across from my house. The yelling was prodigious. The hoots and yelps were sustained and feral and all of it prohibited by the rules laid out by AirBnB and the home owners (who had escaped to a hotel on the town's periphery). At 2 pm I'd had enough. Even with all the triple-paned windows in the world every scream and every bass note came though into my bedroom loud and clear. I texted the home owners who texted the "guests" who wound down the party at 2:30 and crawled off to sleep. (Rules from neighborhood, home owners and AirBnB: No parties, no noise after 10 pm). 

They were gone again all of Saturday. The homeowners apologized to B. and me profusely. Claimed to have made the rules "very, very clear" to the renters. "It would not happen again..." Etc. And, amazingly, the evening progressed well. The group was out on the town. All quiet even at our late bedtime. Ah, the miracle of sleep...

Until the group got back to their temporary base next door and ramped up a thumping good party back on the pool deck complete with ugly people skinny dipping, loud conversations, excited screams and whoops, and lots and lots of music from the sound system. I woke up immediately from a deep and wonderful sleep and looked at my watch. It was f-ing 4:10 a.m. in the morning. They were in a quiet, family-centric, residential neighborhood blithely tossing away any semblance of empathy or restraint and hitting it hard. 

I pulled on a pair of pants, walked over and asked/told them to turn off the music and take the noise inside. They mostly ignored me so I walked back over and texted the home owners. Again. At 4:20 in the morning. Calls were made. I assume the renters were threatened with being delisted from AirBnB. They finally shut their party down. 

But if you are like me and you get shocked awake in the middle of the night, and then have a confrontation with a bunch of drunk and disorderly "young adults" there's no way you'll ever get back to sleep. I lay in bed thinking of all the most violent chapters in "The Gray Man" series of novels by Mark Greaney. I fantasized about shooting a Javelin missile through the patio doors of the house next door. I sent another volley of texts to the homeowners instead.

Then, since sleep was elusive,  I got up, made a cup of Chamomile tea, tried to meditate about peacefulness and letting go of bad energy, and then (metaphorically) dragged myself to the first swim practice of the day at our club pool.

I usually brag here about my incredible swim performances but not today. All I can say is that rocks could swim better than me today. Two nights in a row of deeply disrupted sleep tend to take a toll. Being royally pissed off takes a toll. I moved down three lanes at practice. From pretty fast to just creeping along. It was my lamest swim workout of the year. But I consoled myself with the fact that I showed up and I finished the workout. That counts for something in my book. 

When I got home there were more profuse apologies on my text string and the owners were next door in the process of evicting their renters. I didn't have even a milli-second of second thoughts. And anyone who calls out, "NIMBY" or "Get Off my Lawn" in response can go dig a hole and sit in it and meditate on all the ways that they are way out of touch. 

Last I heard from the home owners the entire house smells of pot and cigarettes smoke. (Also forbidden by the rules). They've tallied up a couple thousand dollars of physical damage to their house. They've collected six bags of strewn about garbage. They're pretty furious as well. And they are not ancient men and women. They are right in the middle of the Gen X generation. 

This was the second weekend of the big, loud, inconvenient music festival. I hope my neighbors have learned something valuable. I hope they sell the house very quickly to a nice retired couple with very young grandchildren and no desire to leverage their own homestead for some quick cash. 

Working photographers really do need their sleep. We get absolutely feisty without it. 

Now, who do I sue? The neighbors? The renters? AirBnB? All of them? Letting this one go, I guess. The neighbors are actually pretty sweet. But....that's strike one and two....

Photo news: big purchase on the agenda tomorrow. I need to buy one or two more sandbags. It's for the outdoor video shoot on Tuesday. Might be contending with some breezes.... Big, exciting purchase. More sandbags are never enough.