Part 2. Cold, rain-soaked day continues on S. Congress Ave. Sadly, I passed up several good mannequin opportunities.... But...Holiday stuff galore.

I climbed out of the pool, dried off and got dressed and then headed out to the car. I took one last photograph at Barton Springs Pool just to show its proximity to downtown and I felt lucky to get a flying bird into the shot. I think it's a duck. I'm not sure...

I'm a bit bored by the street scenes in downtown and nobody's made much of an effort to dress it up for the holidays so I thought I try my street shooter luck over on currently trendy S. Congress Ave. On the other side of the river from the Capitol and the big downtown convention hotels. Seems it was too cold and wet for either the tourists, the shoppers or the street people today. But that's okay by me since there's always something new to look at and the square perspective and limited depth of field combo I was playing with today kept it fresh enough for me. 

Again, everything was photographed with the Leica SL (which has a stated IP52 weather resistant rating: don't try this with your Sony or Nikon. You have no idea what water and dust intrusion resistance their camera "might" have....).  I was using the TTArtisan 50mm lens I wrote about in the previous blog post. It's not rated as weather resistant so I wrapped a small slice of electrical tape around the mating of the lens and camera mounts. Seemed to work fine at resisting moisture. And by 11 or so the rain was less ..... spitty. 

Also, a shout out to Timberline waterproof boots. Nice on the foot and dry as a desert inside. Today? Black to go with the gray pants.... and dark gray hat. 

On this shot I'm working right down at the close focusing minimum with the 50mm.
Even at f1.1 the center area and, indeed, all the areas that are in the plane of focus
are adequately sharp.

Yeah. I don't get it either. But I find it somehow "charming". 

this is the front of Home Slice Pizza on S. Congress Ave. I included it because 
I found some really cool painted murals in the their parking lot and wanted to give
them a shout out. Unfortunately, lately Blogger has decided to randomize the order
 in which it displays my photos so the fun stuff follows this positioning/establishing 
shot. C'est la Vie. 

Love, love, love this mural (the one on the left!) since I actually saw Janis Joplin perform once 
at the Vulcan Gas Company (early Austin club) when I was too young to buy beer. The mural 
is well done in that Roy Lichtenstein comic books style. And the joke, of course is that
it's in the parking lot of one of Austin's most beloved pizza joints. 

this is the logo on the door of a newish seafood restaurant called Del Mar. 
The building used to house S. Congress CafĂ©.  I shot a bunch of food for the former
restaurant. It was one of the early digital shoots with the Kodak DCS 760 camera. 
Slow going.... And more than a few reboots. 

I love the logo because it combines a cute girl, who is a mermaid, and also sports 
a cowboy hat. The upside down fish on a spear tops it off.

And it seems now that every other store on S. Congress Ave. is now a high end hat shop.
The alternate shops are expensive cowboy boot shops. But not the boots you'd wear to work 
in the field everyday. Nope. More like the cowboy boots you only wear when you go out 
dancing at clubs. Or you're trying to look "native." 

On the ground. Actually, the sidewalk. I bought a bottle of this when I was in Reykjavik. 
It tasted like almost every other Vodka I've tried...

All the trees and tree decor are from The Austin Motel. 
They did an amazing job of decorating this year. Makes me smile.

My fingers started getting cold and I'd forgotten to bring along gloves ( or mittens? ) so I headed home and marveled at the difference in traffic from last, late December to this one. So much more crowded on the roads this year. I hope the people in all those cars are shopping locally and spending some cash to keep our economy from falling into recession. I'm always happier when things are going well..

More to come. Please keep reading and consider using my affiliate links...  Oh, that's right. We don't have any. Maybe you could leave a lovely comment instead. 
Happy Holidays! 

Defaulting to the square. A cold day in Austin with non-stop rain. What to do? How about photography at Barton Springs Pool?


I woke up at six a.m. with a sore neck. I crawled quietly out of bed, got dressed and headed to the kitchen to make coffee and toast, and to look at the news. Outside the window the rain was tumbling down, the wind gusting and the skies still dark. I got bored with the news. I made a second cup of coffee, walked into the library and pulled a random photo book off the shelves. It was "Twenty-Five Years. Photography" a retrospective of Keith Carter's work. I like Carter's photos pretty well but I love the writing in the book. An introduction by A.D. Coleman which situates fine art photography with insightful precision. But my absolute favorite part of the book is the collection of quotes and snippets from Carter as told to Bill Witliff back in 1996. The quotes are really great. Worth the price of the book. 

Keith Carter is a believer in the idea that you don't need to travel to far off places to find art and magic. Actually belonging to a place can be just as important as travel. I read Carter's interview responses and then grabbed an old SL body and that zany TTartisan 50mm f0.95, set the camera up to make square files and to write them to the cards as black and white Jpegs. Then I put on an old rain jacket over my worn, green sweatshirt and headed out to make some photos for fun. Just for fun.

It was still raining, but not too hard, when I pulled into the parking lot in front of Barton Springs Pool. The pool is spring fed, 1/8th of a mile long and open unless it's going to be below freezing for an extended period of time. I flashed my senior citizen swim card at the gate and spent some time watching water drip off the brim of my hat. And I made photographs for fun. Mostly of the pool and some of the old railings that have been at the pool for a long, long time. 

Even though rain drops peppered the pool and the wind made the day feel ten degrees cooler than the actual 42° shown on my phone there were three hardy swimmers doing long laps in the pool and two lifeguards all bundled up and sitting under big umbrellas in their lifeguard chairs a third of the way to either end.

coming down from the guard house for a shift change. 

These simple railings have been at the pool as long as I can remember.
My first swim at Barton Springs Pool was in the Summer of 1975.
That's a lot of water over the spillway. 

That lump on the wall is someone's bundle of warm, dry clothes wrapped up in 
plastic to keep dry. It's a good idea to get dry quick and bundle back up.
The water is warm enough to be swimmable. It's about 70°. It doesn't vary 
 much, season to season. But it always seems colder on the gray 
winter days....

The alternate shot of the "bundle" with the swimmer out of focus in the background...

A good warning to obey since the pool depth is two feet or so there. 
And the bottom is rocky... 

No takers on the diving board today. But it's there if you need it...

There is a spillway at the east end of the pool. The pool water continuously empties out 
into a waterway that leads to Lady Bird Lake. The part of the Colorado River that flows through 
the center of Austin. The divide between downtown and the once very hip South Austin.
Now painfully gentrified by techies from out of state...

Another swimmer's minimalist "bundle" is nothing but a pair of sandals to keep
their feet from freezing as they make their way up the long stairs to the open-to-the-sky changing
rooms. Nice on days when it's too chilly to walk around barefoot. 

I counted two pairs of white egrets. I wasn't fast enough to focus on them in flight. But then I remembered that I don't really do....BIF.

near the East end of the pool it gets shallow in places. At the middle and at the West end
it gets too deep to stand up in. Some people swim here every single day of the year. 
They get there as early as 5:00 a.m. when there are no guards and only a sign
which reads, "Swim at your own risk." No sissies before first light...

This guard was layered in clothes. And professional. And attentive of the swimmers. 
It's that dedication to make things work even if there is only one swimmer in the 
pool that makes Austin a different city than most. There isn't a quota or a 
limitation based on how much use the pool gets. It's just there for anyone 
who wants to or needs to swim. My swim bag was in the car. I wouldn't have 
felt right about photographing and then leaving. I had to get a quick, chilly mile in 
first. Made my sore neck for better...for a little while. 

When I came home from a swim a couple of days ago I tossed my "Marvel Comics/Super-hero" towel over the gate to the side yard to let it dry in the sun. Too bad I forgot to bring it in last night, before the storm hit. It's going to take a while to dry out with the first edge of the cold weather having arrived. 

All photos done with a Leica SL. Jpegs. Black and White. 
TTArtisan 50mm f0.95 lens. Mostly shot at f1.1.

Look at them bigger. The detail and also the focus fall off is more fun that way.


All cameras should enable you to set your favorite aspect ratios so you can compose without mental gymnastics. Sadly, the Q2 doesn't do this.

Silly me. I thought I had purchased the perfect camera. The body design is great. The menu...superb. The lens is spectacular. The EVF is beautiful. The Q2 oozes quality. But sadly....it will not allow you, the photographer, to set even a small selection of various aspect ratios. You can shoot in a 3:2 format or you can resign yourself to dicking around with cropping in post. Which is a sad way to get to the crop you wanted in the first place. I know why I presumed the Q2 was capable of aspect ratio-ing; the SL and the SL2 both offer this needed feature. Looking forward to having this capability in the Q3...

I guess the interface designers thought that the digital zoom with frame lines AND the ability to crop to your proportional desire in-camera would be too confusing. Or maybe it just required too much of the interface. But now I am sad. (Not too sad...) because I love working in the square (1:1) and especially so when using shorter focal length lenses. The square crop on a 28mm lens brings sanity back to that focal length and with 47 megapixels of information to pick and choose from the Q2 would be one of the perfect choices for...giving me a choice. 

As a consolation prize I would have gladly settled for a grid overlay (always on) that gave me guidance for a square crop even if it did nothing more to help me along. But no. Not even close...

I guess my only solution is to buy one of the 28mm Summicron ASPH f2.0 lenses for the L mount, put it on the SL2 body and set that camera for the square aspect ratio. Jeez. Life is so complicated. 

But seriously....I'm not being very serious here. I would like the square crop indicators but it's certainly not a huge issue. Composing with the tools at hand is part of the learning process. And I'm learning. Slow but steady progress toward the total embrace of this particular camera. As the Mandalorian often says, "That is the way." 

We're counting down the days until Christmas here and also counting down the days until the arrival of incredibly cold weather (at least for central Texas). Starting on Thursday the Arctic storm that seems to be affecting everyone across the country is set to arrive bringing with it five days in a row in which the night time lows will plunge into the low 20s or teens.

I'm wasting no time here. I spent the morning applying thick layers of hardwood mulch to the land around the Japanese Maple trees, the sage bushes, and the sweet olive bushes. I just received my order of "plankets" from Amazon (these are plant bed covers and I ordered the big, 10 by 20 foot versions - with anchoring stakes). I'm also busy covering all the outside facets and draining water out of all the garden hoses. I've got stuff to sprinkle on the sidewalk so I don't slip and become a geriatric statistic and I've broken out the cold weather, insulated swim cap for those frigid morning swims. Still working on the best way to cover the 250 feet from the warm locker room to the warm (hopefully) swimming pool and how to get back to the locker room afterwards while abundantly wet.

After the record breaking storm last year we don't want to be caught with our pants down. We've stocked in water, canned stuff we think we might like, strike anywhere matches and I'm charging battery banks in anticipation of another ill-forecasted general disaster. Hope those all wheel drive Subarus really are good in rough weather....

As I learned in the Boy Scouts, "Be Prepared." And...Happy Holidays. 
Giant mythical character at my favorite gardening store.

Messing around with a 50mm crop and a wide aperture on the Q2. Seems to work well.