The Good Stuff.


I'm trying to be more social. I read that "older" people tend to get isolated. I went out for a long walk through an old Austin neighborhood with a friend today. I learned about looking at things from an architect's perspective...

this elementary school in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Austin 
was re-named after the famous FSA era photographer, Russell Lee. 
He was an Austinite for many years!

It's odd to try and straddle the gap between working as a photographer and trying to be more focused on photographing for myself instead of clients. When I got an invitation to go out to walk and make images with a friend I knew best from the advertising days I jumped at the chance. I've always known Herman as an architect who was also an ad agency principle but lately he's jumped into photography with both feet. In fact, he just returned from Verona, Italy where he was press checking his first book of his photographic art. ( And, impressive to me, published by Goss Books in London --- not self-published!). File this under: interesting things to do when you retire.

He wanted to walk around and look at student housing in the old neighborhood that's just north of the UT Law School and he thought it would be fun if I tagged along. We met at my house around 11:00 and Herman drove us over to his intended photo area. I decided to take the Leica Q2 with me as I didn't know how far my fellow photographer wanted to walk. I wanted a light package that packed a punch and the Q2 fit the bill perfectly. Added to the nice low size and weight of the camera was the wide angle lens. Kind of important when photographing various pieces of architecture.

My friend was using a Leica M10R and a 35mm Summicron. He used to shoot with a Q but fell in love with the rangefinder. But "perfectionist" that he might be he is also getting up to speed with a 4x5 inch view camera and real film. But not today.

It was fun to walk with someone whose perspective on photographing buildings is all about....perspective. And buildings. He liked to shoot "flat" with the buildings head on while I would approach the same subject matter looking for diagonals and leading lines and not really paying attention to keystoning and other perspective "errors." I'm betting, if we compared images from mostly the same scenes the results would be radically different. Not better or worse but different. 

We seemed a good match. We stopped for lunch at a new, little Mexican food restaurant on Guadalupe, north of campus, walked some more and wrapped up our adventure around 3:15. We covered a lot of ground and covered a lot of topics while walking and catching up. 

Every day and every walk I take with another photograph is so different. The experience can be eye opening. Or familiar. All depends.

Here's my take from today, in no particular order:

I got lucky. A cat was transiting the door the moment I pushed the shutter.

I find the Q2 perfect for this kind of photography. It's quick, easy and potent. And I love the colors. More walking to come.  


  1. It is very common for older people to become more and more isolated. It's good to be aware of this potential problem and talk about it. Once we retire from our careers and some friends and family around us begin to die, I think it can happen pretty quickly and without us being immediately aware of it. Our western culture tends to shun aging and the elderly. We put the old folks away, out of sight, out of mind. I'm very much an introvert and a quiet person. My natural disposition is to keep to myself. My teaching career is good for me because it forces me to interact with not only colleagues but young people. I do worry that when I retire from teaching I will withdraw from regular interaction with people and focus on my hobbies and interests and keep to myself.

  2. crsantin, as a retired teacher and introvert, it happens. About the only conversations I have with folks are my doctors, seen far too often these days. But, back to Austin, Kirk was close to the area where my favorite gal lived in around 1981. Interesting.

  3. I like both approaches to buildings, dead on and at an angle, I like getting things like streetlights also totally flat in the frame almost, so it becomes like a collage almost, these different sort-of abstract elements on top of each other

  4. You can't do anything about your genetics. My family lives long lives and don't suffer from dementia--lucky me.. However my personality is my choice. And I've changed it to fit the situation several times.

  5. I'd love to see some of Herman's, to see the differences both in your observing/style, and the differences (if any) between the M10R and the Q. Does he have any online venue for his work?

  6. Hi Tom, He's not a working commercial photographer. He's an artist and doesn't post frequently. I thought you might be interested in his website:

    If I find his kirk-walk-images online I'll let you know!

    Read his bio. It's impressive.

  7. Tom: Here is Herman's instagram:

  8. Thank you for adding the link to Herman's website. Well worth visiting.

  9. Thanks Gordon !!! Herman is very accomplished and even though he just recently has been concentrating more on photography his vast architecture and advertising experiences give him the advantage of both a great eye for composition and a passion for a specific subject. I was so impressed to hear about his book project. I saw some large prints from the project yesterday and they were incredible.

  10. Kirk
    Nice group of images from a photo walk! The vintage fire house is a beautiful old building. It appears partially boarded up, which is kind of surprising. I didn't find a history posted online of it, but wondered if you knew any history? Thanks for sharing!

  11. Hi Hunter, Sorry but yesterday was the first and only time I really noticed the building! Even thought I've been up and down that street for nearly 50 years. I'm sure until recently it was a functioning firehouse but no clue about its provenance. Apologizes for not being curious enough at the time.

  12. The most amazing thing about that firehouse is that nobody has refurbished it and filled it with ferns and skinny-legged Italian suits.

    (I was about to push the button on this post when I noticed it said, "farms and skinny-legged etc." Ferns had been changed to farms by the spell-checker, but I usually know immediately when I've mistyped something and fix it. I didn't have that sense this time. I wonder if spell-checkers are now using AI to change words that they don't expect? Nah. Never happen.)

  13. The Leica Q2 weighs the same as my A7RIII with a pancake wide angle lens. I agree it’s a great feeling to take out on an urban walk. The inbuilt handgrip of my A7RIII makes it easy to carry on a wrist strap, too. I love this kind of photography.


  14. Thanks, Kirk. I did find this short piece from the Austin Fire Department history. Built in 1896 for use by volunteer fire fighters, the first floor was a maintenance garage and the second floor was a dance hall and meeting place. Pretty cool it's still around....

    1896 North Austin Fire Company #6 was established. Originally located at 30th and Rio Grande streets, a permanent hall was built at 3002 Guadalupe St. The fire hall filled both the occupational and social functions of the community. The ground level was the maintenance shop and the second story consisted of one large main room with a stage. The volunteer firefighters' band would play as community members danced and socialized. The volunteers ran the house until 1916 when they turned it over to the city government, which hired professional firefighters. The structure was used for many years as a maintenance shop for the Austin Fire Department. It has since been restored and preserved for future generations.

    Ray Hunter

  15. Ray, That's some cool research. Thanks. I'm heading back over to give that building some more attention!

  16. Thanks for the links, Kirk. I see what you mean about the differences in how you and Herman approach the subject. I noticed that the straight on, rectilinear urban architecture shots are only one of his 'styles'. The ones with vivid splashes of color, completely blurred fields of view, odd juxtapositions of similar photos, etc. almost seem like he's changing out of his business suit into his comfortable knock around clothes.


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