Nostalgia, pure and simple. Like a salmon swimming back upstream.

Today was my mother's birthday and what kind of son would I be if I didn't head down to San Antonio to visit? While my parents are ancient by any standard they are still fully independent and wanted to meet me, my brother and sister-in-law, at their favorite restaurant in the Alamo Heights neighborhood; Cappy's. It's a very nice restaurant and we've been going there for decades. The owners know my parents and always greet them warmly and see to their every need. 

But I would be remiss if I didn't mention that my parents are almost pathologically obsessed with the punctuality of their children. It's something I've inherited, to my chagrin. Which ever group is late to lunch, a dinner or a family event becomes the target of anger and scorn. For this reason I am always early for any engagement with them. Always. This means that I leave my home in Austin with a wide safety margin of time built into the trip. I want a buffer in case someone has flipped a truck on the highway or if Martians have attacked and caused the major exits on the highway to be closed. 

The trip, when nothing interferes (Austin rush hour(s), stalled cars, police radar traps, general populace stupidity, etc.), from my front door to the front door of the restaurant, on Broadway, can be handled in about and hour and fifteen minutes. So, of course I left two Austin two hours before our allotted meeting time. Today the traffic gods were benevolent. The line of cars in the left hand lane cruised along most of the time at 85 mph. I got into the neighborhood a little more than 45 minutes before our reservation.

Usually this constitutes wasted time. A toll for familial harmony. On different occasions I might drop into a Starbucks for an unneeded but reflexive coffee. An event closer to dinner might send me to the bar across the street for a fortifying glass of red wine or a (James Bond induced) Vodka martini --- shaken, not stirred. Today my trajectory was different. We were meeting for brunch and I wanted to have my first cup of coffee in the restaurant. As my thoughts were drifting through the perils of time (mis)management I came up to the traffic light at my old high school. Alamo Heights High School. Home of the Mules! (Yes, that is really the mascot). 

All of a sudden I remembered the one thing at school that I always looked forward to. The recurring event that I indulged in for hours nearly everyday. Swimming. I swam for the mighty Mules all through high school. And it dawned on me that I hadn't really been back to the indoor pool in nearly forty one years. Funny, since I visit the city so often... I decided to drop in and see if it was as I remembered it. 

I took my Panasonic fz 1000 in with me. 

playing around with the automatic straightening control in Lightroom.

The pool seemed so much smaller than I remembered. But it has been maintained beautifully; almost as if preserved as a museum piece. The water was crystal clear and the smell of airborne chlorine was intoxicating. Six lanes across and 25 yards long. A lifeguard greeted me and I remembered that one of my first jobs was as a weekend lifeguard at this pool, a long time ago. I remembered the swim meets and the 5:30 am practices. I remember the old way of training we did back then: Long, long yardage (up to 12,000 yards in a day) and then a week of tapering before the big meets. I remember the beautiful girls on the team in their skin-tight speedos, hair under tight latex caps; and the guys with early 1970's hair and skinny, chiseled bodies. But mostly I remember how right it felt to flow through the water and how elegant the feeling of pushing off the wall was --- the closest thing humans experience to flying without falling. 

I'm glad I brought a camera with me. I wanted to bring the photos home to explore them. I did ask about lap swimming on weekends. 20 swims for $60 on a punch card. You can get the punch cards on weekdays at the athletic office. The perfect thing for those family weekends when one REALLY NEEDS to get away and knock out a mile or two. 

Oh, yeah. The camera worked fine. 

Our table was ready right on time.
The Eggs Benedict were nicely prepared and tasty. 
The brunch conversation was my family's usual combination 
of catching up, trying to one up each other in the contest 
of adult success, and, failing that, shameless bragging about our kids. 
My parents were happy. My mom had a nice birthday. 

I also got to catch up with an old friend. The pool I remember so fondly.


The break-in experiences with the Panasonic fz1000 are ongoing. Today I was working on making building photos for a project pitch. The lens range was very useful.

I needed to shoot some samples for a specific style of shooting buildings. I had a request from a client who wanted to incorporate these kinds of images to their website. I also wanted to give the Panasonic bridge camera a "Jpeg" workout. I find that the Panasonic fz1000 shoots files that are a little flat and need to be sharpened a bit in Lightroom. But that's fine. It beats over sharpened files which can't be pulled back and the lower saturation also gives me a lot more options in post processing.

Many of the buildings here I've photographed many times. Some are brand new because the buildings are brand new. I used a circular polarizer for every shot. Mostly to make the sky look interesting; it was a flat sky day here in Austin today. 

I walked through the Austin downtown for about an hour and a half. It was enough to get the shots I needed. I have lots of others I've already shot but it's always nice to add more. And it's nice to see what this camera, with its long reach, can do on subjects I've already shot with other cameras. 

I'm very happy with the results from this $749 camera. Big fun. 

One other observation: The battery lasts longer than the review I've read indicate it would. 


I continue my exploration of the Panasonic Fz1000 and I must admit that I'm having fun with this camera. 4K video to follow in the near future.

A different way of shooting and a different buffet of focal lengths makes all-in-one cameras fun, full sun shooters. I took off some time yesterday to get over to the Graffiti Wall and take a few photos. It was the lull before the continuing storm of ACL Fest and the crunchy work calendar we've got in front of us this month. Most images here done in Jpeg with the lens at f4.5 and the focal length stretched out into the longer focal lengths. No big post processing beyond a bit of judicious sharpening. Still like the camera. Still like the Wall. 


You mean there's a novel written just for photographers? The Lisbon Portfolio....

An image made with my original bridge camera, the Sony R1. Worked just fine.

The Sony R1 was an amazing camera. It had a super sharp Zeiss lens that started at 24mm and ended up at 120mm. The chip used the same science as the (almost) legendary Nikon D2X. And it was the first camera I owned with both a very usable EVF and a flipping, tilting, rotating LCD screen.

I used it wherever I could. We did a brochure for the investment company, Raymond James, with the camera as well as the annual report for the Kipp Schools in 2008 (see above).

My foray into the Panasonic fz 1000 is just an extension of my earlier fascination with cameras that really can do everything.

I don't think a camera needs to be pricey to be good. Especially if it's well designed and the lens is good. An amazing amount of photographic content is immune to gear worship. You just have to read the freaking manual and figure out how to use it to your advantage.

Two New Devices Creep Into The Studio. One To Shoot With and Maybe One To Print With.

Not a crazy big purchase for either product. One = maintenance and the second = impulsiveness, again. Last week I wrote about ACL Fest bricking me old (ancient) Canon Pixma 9000 printer with a power surge. Turns out one of my readers was right on the money when he suggested unplugging overnight and trying again. The printer emerged from its non-destructive latency with renewed gusto but it was too late --- I had already envisioned a bright, new future for printing and pushed the order button for a new printer. I'm okay with that as printers have a finite useful life and I was ready to move on anyway. We've conjectured a lot about whether I'll try to jump back in and print a bunch but the reality is that we'll go through a lot of (beautiful looking) invoice printing and, in a couple of weeks, I'll be using the printer to do some overnight printing for a job connected with the Formula One car racing, here in Austin. The late evening of printing will pay for the cost of acquiring the printer several times over so the money spent is more or less a wash. 

I fired up the printer yesterday and printed five invoices and one 8.5x11 inch lustre print for a client. As expected, there were no surprises. Since it's an awfully sexy looking printer I tried to get a neck strap for it so I could wear it around town but couldn't find the attachment lugs anywhere on the printer. .. (thinly veiled sarcasm).

The new printer is slightly bigger and heavier than the old printer but it fits fine in its spot on top of my filing cabinet so I'm no longer aware of the change. 

The color print I made matched the screen colors and densities on my desktop system almost perfectly and I am happy with my purchase. You can get them inexpensively on Amazon.com

The next purchase was more considered and much less logical or grounded in good business practice. But that's never been my strong suit when it comes to fun gear acquisition. Right?

I have been interested in the Panasonic "version" of the original Sony RX10 ever since it was announced. For part of that time the purchase would have made no sense whatsoever since I already had the RX10 and the differences weren't that compelling. After selling the RX10 I've spent a long time without an all around, all-in-one compact, take anywhere camera. I had pretty well convinced myself that the role of "fun camera" would be eternally filled with the Olympus OMD cameras and assorted lenses but something clicked during the big Finance Conference last week and I started thinking again about how much fun it would be to have a camera with a long zoom range and a good mix of other fun features; not the least being the 4K video. 

I read all the reviews again and watched the two guys on CameraStoreTV do their video review of the camera as a still camera and as a video camera and I decide to consider it, seriously. I went up to Precision Camera and asked Ian to hand me their demo and then I sank back into their big, comfy leather couch and played with every single menu item and control. The EVF is great, the menus are like a familiar language and the image stabilization is in the ballpark with the Olympus cameras. I walked around the store with it for half an hour and shot lots of long, long shots with its 400mm equivalent focal length. I was pretty happy with the whole package so I bought the camera that afternoon from my loyal, local, bricks and mortar camera store. Precision Camera. I asked for a discount but didn't get one. Why should they discount when their price was absolutely identical to the prices at Amazon.com and B&H PhotoVideo? I could walk out the door with it right then and, if there were any problems with the unit, or if I capriciously changed my mind a few days later, I could box it all up and bring it back for a full refund. No logic at all for me, in my lucky state of being reasonably close to a good camera store, to order it online. 

I unboxed it but I forgot to do an "unboxing" video. Well, that's not really fair. I didn't forget anything. I just think it's stupid to do unboxing videos. 

I had a lot on my plate over the weekend and over the last two days. The roof replacement wax more taxing than I expected because I have a horrible compulsion to stick around, listen to the noise, micro-manage and make sure everything is done correctly. Today was really the first day I had to put the freshly charged battery into the camera and take it our for a spin. And I needed a long walk.

My initial grousing about the camera concerns the placement of battery and SD card slot. More precisely how close they are to the off center tripod mount. The placement makes it impossible with any of my tripods to change either the battery or the memory card without removing the camera from a tripod. That kinda sucks. 

My second complaint is that Lightroom doesn't recognize the color profiles from the camera in the raw files and overlays it's muted, "Adobe Standard" profile to the incoming files. In order to bring them back to the look of the Jpeg files (which have the profiles embedded) I have to add contrast and adjust the colors, the vibrancy and sometimes the saturation. But, the files do take correction without getting all bitchy and the end results have been uniformly good. 

So, what is this camera all about? What's the allure? The concept is perfect. Make a camera with a reasonably big sensor (the 1 inch Sony 20 megapixel sensor), couple the sensor with a really, really good, wide-ranging zoom lens, designed by Leica, that has a relatively fast maximum aperture (25-400mm equiv. f2.8-4.0) and put it all together in a package with a state of the art EVF and almost top-of-the-class image stabilization.  Oh, and use the same, fastest in mirrorless auto-focus that was pioneered on the GH4. Cram this all in one easy to carry package and the, for good measure (and to kick sand into the face of the RX10 of that time) add in very, very good 4K video. 

When the camera first hit the market is was right at $1,000 which put it about $300 under the original RX-10. Now that the new RX10.2 is here and boasts not only 4K video but a BSI version of the one inch chip its feature set made the math more difficult. Panasonic did the logical thing and dropped the price on their camera to $750 which put the whole calculus of comparison back into its logical order. 

At $749.99 I thought to myself that I'd bought crappier lenses than that for more money and I decided to give it a whirl. I'm into the first real day of shooting with it and I like a number of things so far. I like the lens range. I like the EVF. I like the overall look and feel of the camera but will readily concede that the Sony version has a better feel to it; more solid. And, I like the first images I've gotten out of the camera. I've spent about two hours walking around with it. I'll shoot more tomorrow and on Friday. 

Tomorrow I'm shooting a "for fun" video project with James Webb. He'll be using his Sony A7Rii and I'll be shooting 4K b-roll with the z1000. That is, if the postman delivers the two additional batteries I had to order.... I'll have more to report after that. The one failing of the camera for video though, that I knew going into the purchase, is the lack of a headphone jack. Dammit. Well, I guess there has to be some method to move people to buy the flagship stuff....

Yellow Triangle shot through a plate glass window. 

Omni-Present Austin Construction.

400mm of Compression. (equivalent). 

Wide. With graceful highlight blasting.

25mm. Equivalent.

Back  from when Compact meant Canon QL17.

This is the wide end. 

And this is the long end shot from the same position.

The color is neutral and pleasant. Waiting to see how it handles flesh tones.